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April/May 2018
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Executive Hire News › Archives › April/May 2018 › Forum : Opportunities and challenges

Forum : Opportunities and challenges

What struck us most as we compiled your latest issue of EHN is the strong sense of confidence and optimism that it reflects in our industry. Despite the on-going debate surrounding Brexit, issues such as the aftermath of the Carillion collapse and, even, the impact of the extreme conditions caused by the so-called Beast from the East weather system, there is much evidence to show that hirers and suppliers continue to identify new opportunities.

Not only are hirers busy, but they are also expanding. Our article on St. Helens-based independent, Linacre Hire, starting on page 12, describes how the company’s new management is rejuvenating the long-established business and broadening its activities. And on page 31 we report on Impact Tool Hire based in Leeds, a business recently formed by a number of hire professionals who are relishing the experience of running their own operation. Furthermore, both these businesses have plans to expand their depot networks in the years ahead, having already identified additional locations where they believe a niche exists for a new entrant to flourish.

And by no means are they alone. Overleaf, we lead our Executive News coverage with Boels Rental’s purchase of Already Hire, almost exactly a year after the Netherlands-based group’s acquisition of Supply UK Hire Shops. This gives Boels Rental UK a presence in the important London region, on which it will doubtless grow. Indeed, the business is currently in the process of re-locating depots in several flagship areas, the first being in Liverpool which opens in May.

GROWTH OF SUCCESSFUL HIRERS

In many instances, and certainly in in the case of Boels, these new depots will be sizeable. And where hirers are building new facilities or renovating existing ones, it will create work for local construction professionals and tradesmen. The building industry has always been the main driver for our industry; however, with all this activity, it could almost be argued that the opposite is also true, with the growth of successful hirers leading to more opportunities for the construction industry!

Busy hirers are obviously investing in new equipment for their growing fleets. This issue includes several references to significant deals that have been finalised following the Executive Hire Show in February, as companies react to customer demand. Similarly, we report on new products that manufacturers are introducing to meet these needs and to delivery greater efficiency and productivity.

FINDING HIGH-QUALITY PEOPLE

So our industry continues to move forward. However, these opportunities bring challenges. As hirers and suppliers expand their operations, they also need high-quality people, but finding them can be difficult. This is a concern that has been heard regularly from virtually all business sectors in recent times and it shows no signs of diminishing. Attracting new entrants into the industry is a perennial problem, particularly with regard to raising awareness amongst young people and school leavers about hire as a career opportunity. A survey carried out by the CPA amongst its plant hire members found that 40% of respondents described recruitment as ‘very difficult’ or ‘fairly difficult’, and that 28% had hard-to-fill vacancies in the last year.

National and larger regional hire organisations have committed significant resources in the recruitment and training of new personnel and several run successful apprenticeship programmes. For many smaller companies, however, it remains a challenge. One opinion that is frequently expressed by hirers - including one in this issue - believes it is easier to train new entrants from outside the industry as they will have no operational shortcomings picked up from their previous workplaces, which have to be unlearned.

However, this assumes that a business already has systems and procedures in place that enable the necessary knowledge to be passed on to new entrants. It takes time and commitment, as exemplified in our article on another busy hirer Didcot Plant, beginning on page 21. The business has looked ahead to identify the additional personnel needed to maintain the strength of its management team, and has carefully codified important areas of operations such as Health & Safety procedures so that they can be implemented to a consistent standard in the future.

Given demographic facts such as the UK’s generally ageing workforce and the state retirement age being pushed back, the recruitment of additional good people will remain an important issue for the foreseeable future, for business of all sizes. With every new opportunity to explore there are also additional challenges to meet.
     
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