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Executive Hire News › Archives › April/May 2016 › Executive Report : After the flood

Executive Report : After the flood

Penrith Tool Hire demonstrated its commitment to helping local people during last winter's extreme weather events. Alan Guthrie reports.

Storm Desmond brought flooding chaos to significant areas of Britain last December. One of the most severely affected regions was Cumbria, which saw unprecedented levels of rainfall that breached flood defence schemes, swept away bridges over rivers and, in some parts, raised water levels to well above the first floor windows of houses. Indeed, at one site near Keswick, 34cm of rain fell in 24 hours, the most ever recorded.

A significant recovery and restoration operation was necessary, and one company that rose to the challenge was Penrith Tool Hire. “Local homeowners and businesses were phoning us and contacting us via social media asking for help, and we responded in any way we could,” said Depot Manager, Andrew Metherell. “After we exhausted our fleet of pumps and building dryers, we bought as many additional units as we could, principally from Obart and Andrews Sykes, and re-hired others that we could source quickly. We also kept in regular contact with people on our waiting list to reassure them and let them know when we would be able to get machines to them.”

Particular mention should be made of Director Dave Taylor, who responded instantly to calls he received at home during the weekend when the worst of the flooding occurred. He opened up the depot and personally delivered pumps to local home owners, in some cases wading through flood water above waist height. He worked into the small hours, installing equipment and generally helping local people. The scale of the flooding is shown by the fact that some of the machines are still out on hire as drying work continues.

Penrith Tool Hire has grown steadily since Dave Taylor acquired it in 2007. Four years ago, the company expanded into the adjacent industrial site unit, giving much needed additional space to accommodate a growing equipment fleet. Two new staff members were recently appointed, bringing the total to nine. Dave’s wife, Lynsey, who is also a Director, manages the accounts and day-to-day administration.

The fleet has recently diversified to include four Skyjack scissor lifts and a Teupen tracked access platform. “These have proved very popular and appeal to users across several markets, especially as more sites are restricting the use of ladders, and there is steady demand from people organising seasonal activities such as summer events and putting up Christmas decorations,” said Andrew Metherell.

“We have also added a new Kubota 1.8-tonne mini excavator, complementing an existing JCB Micro machine, and we have five Cormidi tracked dumpers. However, we avoid offering much larger equipment as there is a hirer of bigger plant opposite, from which we can re-hire if we need to. It directs customers seeking smaller equipment to us, and it also has a contracting business which regularly hires items like tools and generators, so the ad hoc arrangement works well.”

The company serves a large area, stretching as far as Cockermouth, Whitehaven, Keswick, Kendal, Carlisle and Kirkby Stephen, and the customer base is diverse, ranging from homeowners and tradesmen, to hotels and holiday parks, who appreciate the prompt delivery of equipment over a widespread and occasionally challenging landscape - even without floods to contend with.

Penrith Tool Hire’s commitment to service was one of the factors that led to the company being named as a Finalist in the 2016 Passionate Hirer Awards, presented at the Executive Hire Show. “We were thrilled to be nominated and it led to us getting some good publicity in the local press,” said Andrew Metherell. “The Awards and Show Party were great, and it was particularly valuable in enabling us to share ideas with other hirers. We got talking to many fellow professionals, including senior managers of other businesses that are much larger than ours, who we simply would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. We discussed similar challenges we faced and swapped ideas. We came back with a lot of suggestions about how we could further improve our operation, in areas such as marketing, so it was really helpful. We got a lot out of the exhibition itself, seeing suppliers and ordering more equipment, including more pumps from Obart, a Cut-n-Break cutter from Husqvarna, and Camon tillers and rotavators.

“The local market is currently very strong. Last year was our best ever, and 2016 started exceptionally well. Our retail sales are also growing steadily. We recently changed our showroom display to highlight gardening and grounds care machinery for the spring and summer, and on the first day we sold eight pedestrian mowers and a ride-on machine. Our workshops are very busy repairing and servicing customers’ equipment, which is another local service they value. We know that we have received business this year from people that we helped in the wake of the floods, and we hope that many of them will remain as loyal customers. Also, many contractors who have dealt with us for years are busy, with some reporting that they are booked solidly with work right through until the end of the year, so the signs remain very positive.” •

www.penrithtoolhire.com

     
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