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November/December 2011
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Executive Hire News › Archives › November/December 2011 › Executive Report: Executive news

Executive Report : Executive news

Lyte years ahead

Robert Aplin reports on Lyte’s new factory in west Wales.
Drive 100 miles due west from our offices and you arrive at the new production facility in Swansea of Lyte Industries (Wales) Ltd, better known as Lyte Ladders & Towers. On reflection - and there’s been much of this in our 40th Anniversary issue - this is probably the furthest west UK factory visit I’ve made.
Lyte was celebrating the official opening of its massive 106,000ft2 factory on the Swansea Enterprise Park, in the shadow of the Liberty Stadium. According to MD John Greene, “this new facility has improved transport links, as we are now directly on the M4, rather than 15 miles from it. More significantly, this new factory allows us to greatly improve our operational efficiency, as we can carry out all our operations under one roof. If demand allows, we can also develop an additional 100,000ft2 factory on part of the car park on the new site. The new location also offers a PASMA tower and ladder training facility.
“Our previous facility in Ystradgynlais, further up the valley, was an old 1940s building, which was inefficient and we couldn’t modernise
it economically. Having sold the site for development, we have injected these funds back into the business, strengthening our balance sheet in the process.”
In an area of Wales where unemployment is, clearly, a major issue, Director Paul Lewis is justifiably proud of the fact that Lyte not lost a single job in the move. “We have retained all 110 staff, and, with Tesco having bought our former premises, it is creating 170 jobs in Ystradgynlais, which is a great boost for the village. As a result, there is a net gain for Lyte and Tesco.” Every little helps, as they say. “Our plan now is to grow the business. Our ladders and towers are quality, heavy duty products which are well respected within the hire industry.”
Finally, new Lyte products to be launched at next February’s Executive Hire Show include re-designed podium and glass fibre combination ladders.

ArcGen’s strong and silent types

The recent Showman’s Show gave ArcGen Hilta the opportunity to display a pre-launch ‘concept’ version of its SMC TL-90 mobile lighting tower fitted with energy saving LED lamp heads.
Requiring less power than metal halide lamps, the LEDs can enable impressive running times of up to 288 hours to be achieved before refuelling is required, says the manufacturer, giving reductions in emissions and running costs. The heads are also said to be more robust and longer lasting, and the machine, which will be available in the New Year, will also be displayed on ArcGen Hilta’s stand at the Executive Hire Show in February.
At the Showman’s Show, which was held in Newbury and attracted more than 4,400 visitors, the company’s stand adopted a ‘Zen’ theme, complete with a sumo wrestler and a Buddhist monk, to reflect the strength and silent qualities of its Denyo Eventer generators, which are manufactured in Japan. The machines, which are designed for particularly low noise levels, range from 20 to 37kVA, and several exhibitors used them to provide power on their stands. A new 100kVA model is due to be launched by the end of this year.
ArcGen Hilta’s Chief Executive, Mark Hodgkins, said, “This was our second time at the Showman’s Show. We launched our Eventer range to the events industry at this exhibition last year, and their popularity has grown since then. The fact they have been extensively used at the Show this year, and that people have been visiting our stand to see and hear them in action, is testament to how well established they have become during the past 12 months in this market.”


Selwood reaches new heights

Motivated by the memory of its former Chairman, Kevin Bright, who lost a five year battle with bowel cancer last year at the age of 51, a party of ten from the national plant and pump hire company, Selwood, set out to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on Thursday, 22 September on a fund raising campaign. The team included Kevin’s wife Carole and their son, Richard.
After five days of trekking in very mixed weather, ranging from extreme heat to severe cold, as well as a day spent in the pouring rain, the party reached the peak of Kilimanjaro, 5,895m above sea level, on Tuesday, 27 September. Although the party had been mindful that the altitude could be a serious concern during the ascent, MD Chris Garrett commented that they had perhaps underestimated the difficulty of the trek itself,
the impact that lack of sleep would have on the participants, and just how difficult it would be to keep clean. He added that it was with some relief when they finally arrived back at base camp and were able to enjoy a shower and a long cool drink.
While we are celebrating 40 years of Executive Hire News, 2011 sees Selwood achieve its 65th year in business. To mark this occasion, the company has set itself the challenge of raising £65,000 to benefit UK cancer charities. The Mount Kilimanjaro climb was only one of many initiatives that have been organised over the year to raise money, and more fund raising activities are planned, with Selwood reporting that its target is clearly in sight.

Stihl to unveil fuel injection

As EHN celebrates its 40th Anniversary, 2011 has seen power tool manufacturer, Stihl, commemorating 85 years since its formation. The company reports that it continues to research into ways of developing more efficient equipment offering increased performance, and on its stand at the Executive Hire Show in February it plans to unveil a two-stroke cut-off saw with electronic fuel injection, designated the TS 500i.
Stihl claims this will be the first hand-held tool to incorporate the technology, which is designed to continuously adjust the fuel mixture, injection and ignition timing, for optimum performance and economical operation. The system is also said to give easier starting and a higher rate of cut, enabling greater productivity to be achieved.
The manufacturer, recognised as having invented the mobile, motorised chainsaw, introduced its first cut-off saw, the TS 0), back in 1963. It launched the hugely popular TS 400 model in 1995, which was superseded by the TS 410 in 2007.
Other technological milestones in Stihl’s history include what it claims to have been the world’s first catalytic converter for a two-stroke engine in 1988, and the 4-Mix engine in 2002, a four-stroke power unit running on a petrol/oil mix, doing away with the need for a separate oil tank. Designed for low emissions and improved fuel economy, the 4-Mix engine has since been used on a wide range of Stihl brushcutters and garden power tools, and is designed to enable consistent operation at any angle.
In 2004, Stihl opened a dedicated R&D Engineering Centre in Waiblingen, Germany, which currently employs 5% of the company’s workforce. Amongst technological developments achieved by the Centre were cordless hedge trimmers powered by Lithium-ion batteries, introduced in 2009, the Pico Duro carbide tipped saw chain launched last year, which is claimed to stay sharper for up to four times longer than standard versions, and now the forthcoming TS 500i cut-off saw.

Smiths shortlisted for Award

Smiths Equipment Hire’s depot in Cleveleys has been announced as the first shortlisted candidate for the 2012 Hire Network Award. Two other nominees for the Award, which recognises excellent service at an individual depot, will be chosen in November and December, with the winner being announced during the Executive Hire Show in February.
The Hire Network’s Hire Controller, Jon Norris told EHN, “Smiths’ Cleveleys depot give us consistently good service, which may not sound dramatic, but is essential in a fast moving business environment. Andy Davidson and his team normally provide same day delivery, and if they say it will be there, it is. We have given them some fairly ‘messy’ hires, on sea walls and in the middle of fields, but somehow they always manage to pull it off.”
• This year’s Hire Network Award Winner, Rapid Hire Services of Hayes, is featured in ‘Essential reading'.

Seddons introduces Honda engine training

Seddons, which this year is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee, and its sister company, BrownPower, have introduced a three year engine training programme in association with Honda, aimed at helping UK hire companies to train their workshop personnel in repairing and maintaining Honda powered machinery in their fleets.
The one day course is held at the Honda Engine Academy in Swindon and covers a range of topics such as carburettor cleaning and tuning, as well as engine dismantling and reassembly. A certificate is issued at the end of the session.
Pete McMutrie, Seddons’ National Accounts Manager said, "We were aware of the effort hire companies were making to train their apprentices, and we wanted to work closely with them to help achieve this. The course gives the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge from experts. GAP, Hire Station, Jewsons, Select Plant Hire, Speedy and Supply UK have already joined the scheme, and many more companies are showing interest for 2012.”


Even in this special 40th Anniversary issue, we have to reflect the ever-changing nature of our industry and it is our sad duty to report that
our industry has lost one of its good guys.
As we were preparing our round-up of hirer comments for this issue, we contacted Rapid Tool Hire in Watford to speak to Director Gary Richards, to be informed that he passed away in April after a short illness.
Gary and fellow Director Alan Thorpe were photographed outside their branch in January when we called in to see them in the lead-up to this year’s Executive Hire Show.
Alan and Gary worked together from August 1981 at Dwyer Hire in Borehamwood. In April 1995, they formed Rapid Tool Hire and bought Dwyer’s Northwood shop. In 2000, they merged with Economy Hire’s Chorleywood branch and completed their current three outlet line-up in 2004 with the purchase of Dwyer’s St Albans Road, Watford premises. Incidentally, these premises have housed a tool hire shop since 1970, when Patrick Dwyer established Dwyer Hire on the site.
Alan Thorpe commented, “Together Gary and I completed the London to Brighton cycle race on four occasions to raise money for the Heart Foundation. He is, and will always be, sadly missed by all of us at Rapid. Many of our customers attended his funeral, which was further testimony to Gary’s popularity.”
On behalf of our hire industry, we offer belated condolences to Gary’s wife, son and daughter. We also send our best wishes to his son-in-law, Anthony Wilson, who has since been appointed Manager at Rapid’s Watford branch.

Altrad-Belle’s TV success

Altrad-Belle’s BMD 300 all-terrain mini dumper recently started on the small screen when it appeared on The Alan Titchmarch Show on ITV. The programme was highlighting products that could simplify gardening and landscaping tasks, and the presenter, who rose to prominence following his appearances in the Gardeners’ World series, described the machine as being “the wheelbarrow to beat all wheelbarrows”.
The unit has a 300kg payload capacity and can go through a standard doorway. It can be fitted with a flatbed to carry awkward or oversized loads, and turf tyres can be specified for work on soft ground. In addition, a snow plough attachment is being developed.
Also appearing on the programme was the Belle Warrior contractors’ wheelbarrow, which has a tough, high density polyethylene 100-litre capacity tray and incorporates an adjustable wheel plate for better balance, helping to preventing back strain.

Beaver makes heads turn

Beaver Tool Hire’s principal depot in Chichester is stopping the traffic with a full size replica of a Yanmar SVO8-1 micro excavator on the roof of its premises. John Baggott, General Manager, first had the idea of placing topical items in a prominent position to arouse interest 20 years ago, and previous displays have included a cage stunt inspired by magician David Blaine, a series of wheelbarrows, painted red and welded together in formation to symbolise the Red Arrows’ display team, and a General Election Swing-O-Meter.
John chose the replica Yanmar machine as its current showpiece to highlight Beaver’s recent purchase of its eighth mini from Ammann Equipment, and he is gauging the reaction of people as they go past the building, which is beside the busy A27 Chichester bypass. “We have had comments along the lines of ‘did you strengthen the roof?’ and ‘what if you have to hire it out?’” he told EHN.
The real SV08-1 weighs 1035kg and, with a track width ranging from 680 to 840mm, is suitable work in areas with narrow access. The folding ROPS frame facilitates entry into buildings and a double acting auxiliary circuit provides the power to drive an auger or hammer.

Thwaites shows its heritage

It would be impossible to compile EHN’s 40th Anniversary issue without including a reference to Thwaites, whose name has become synonymous with dumpers the world over. Founded by the legendary Basil Thwaites in the late 1930s, the manufacturer was immortalised in 2005 when it was featured on the welcome sign in its home village of Cubbington, near Leamington Spa.
More currently, Thwaites has recently promoted Andy Sabin to Sales Manager, with responsibility for its northern region, which includes Scotland and Ireland. For the past 12 years Andy has worked in the company’s service and warranty department.

Jo Bamford appointed JCB Compact Products MD

Jo Bamford has been appointed as MD of JCB Compact Products. He takes over from Chris Spring, who will retire from the company in late 2012, having held senior management roles with JCB Attachments, JCB Earthmovers and JCB Sales.
Jo Bamford, son of JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, joined JCB in 2002 as a Product Specialist for the company’s skid steer product range, based at the manufacturer’s North American headquarters. For the past eight years he has been MD of JCB Utility Products, during which JCB launched its Workmax range of utility vehicles, and he has been responsible for the company’s diversification into power generators. He will retain responsibility for JCB Utility Products.

More Bisons seen in Cirencester

Bison Plant Hire of Cirencester continues to expand its mini excavator fleet, having just bought a total of 12 new Kubota machines from BTE Plant Sales. These comprise two 1.6 tonne U17-3 machines, five 3.3 tonne U30s, three U48-4 minis in the 4.7 tonne class, and two 5.7 tonne KX57-4s.
“We bought nine Kubota minis from BTE Plant Sales at this year’s Executive Hire Show,” Bison’s Hire Manager Guy Tomblin told EHN.
“They have proved very reliable and popular with customers, and business levels are such that we needed to add more. We have to work hard to gain business in the current economic climate, but we stress the quality of our service and support, and we hold out for a sensible hire rate. Once customers use us, they seldom go elsewhere.”

Nixon Hire opens in Inverness

Nixon Hire, which is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, has opened a new depot in Inverness, bringing its depot total throughout northern England and Scotland to 17, employing more than 250 staff. As well as offering tools and plant, the facility hires toilets and temporary accommodation.
The company, which uses a computer system from MCS, also has plans to launch its customer relationship management (CRM) software on a mobile platform, to give its sales people access to data, without having to use their laptops. Nixon already used MCS’ web portal that allows customers to view hire contract details on line.

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