DOWN IN EAST SUSSEX, A LOT OF WHAT GLITTERS REALLY IS GOULD, THANKS TO THE MANY EYE-CATCHING HEAVY-DUTY NORTH AMERICAN VEHICLES RUN BY ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN RECOVERY OPERATORS IN THE AREA. ON SCENE DROPS IN TO TAKE STOCK.
Mick Gould Commercials, based in Flimwell, East Sussex, is famous for its fleet of American-built heavy recovery vehicles and its ability to get some of the toughest recovery jobs done in a safe and efficient manner. The firm’s well-equipped and carefully specified vehicles are mostly based on bonneted chassis with up to five axles, with a relatively long wheelbase and left-hand drive layout. Many claim such vehicles are only suitable for long-distance work because of their large turning circles and cumbersome appearance, but Mick and his team have proved this wrong over the last four decades, regularly carrying out complex recoveries in the narrow lanes of Sussex and Kent. Mick gives sound business reasons for running his conventional American wreckers in the UK, and points out that he and his drivers all love driving the trucks, which are a rolling advertisement for the company and can get the job done regardless of circumstance. Mick himself still regularly goes out on breakdown and recovery work and, like many in the industry, he relishes the challenges the work presents.
BARNSLEY BASED BUS AND TRUCK SERVICES HAS RECENTLY BECOME THE UK AGENT FOR EASTERN EUROPEAN RECOVERY EQUIPMENT PRODUCER ESSEL. ON SCENE FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE RANGE AND WHAT THE AGENT HOPES TO ACHIEVE WITH IT.
Shortages of raw materials and components have led to long lead times for almost everything, and the recovery sector is no different. Recovery equipment manufacturers have been forced to extend their delivery schedules, and even when their equipment is ready there may be no chassis to mount it on. Anyone looking to put a new heavy wrecker on the road could face a wait of two years or more from order placement to the key first being turned. This has encouraged some to look to alternative suppliers, providing an opportunity for equipment manufacturers not previously present on the UK market to get started here. And what such manufacturers typically need, other than the right specification of product tailored to the needs of UK operators, is an agent with a thorough understanding of the market, sufficient engineering ability to tailor and mount the product to a high standard, and the right credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Enter Pete Reddish, director of Barnsley-based Bus and Truck Services, a skilled engineer and experienced recovery operator who has recently formed a partnership with Slovakian recovery equipment manufacturer Essel to supply a range of advanced products built to high standards to UK heavy recovery operators.
LIKE A MIGHTY OAK, CALDICOT GROUP IS GROWING IN EVERY POSSIBLE DIRECTION, BECOMING STRONGER AND MORE SOLID WITH EACH PASSING YEAR. SO WHAT’S ITS SECRET? ON SCENE FINDS OUT.
It makes sense for any recovery or vehicle maintenance operator looking for long-term growth and stability to expand the range of services it offers, giving its customers more reasons to deal with it. Such additional services can attract new customers, too, of course, and doing the first job properly often leads to more regular work. Gavin Edwards and Kevin Hughes, MD and operations director respectively of South Wales-based Caldicot Group, have done just this over the years with considerable success. Their operation began 25 years ago, when the chance arose to take over a fleet workshop facility from a national company pulling out of the area. This led first into the operation of recovery vehicles and then into a full national roadworks recovery service for the highway authorities and associated contractors. Further moves into mainstream recovery and roadside assistance, along with mobile servicing, inspection and repair services for fleet operators nationwide, have led to even more growth. And the latest development has been the establishment of a full range of training and driver assessment services for vehicle operators – a logical extension of the firm’s requirement to regularly train and update the skills of its own staff.
RACKING AND STORAGE SPECIALIST VANKIT (UK) PRIDES ITSELF ON FITTING QUALITY SYSTEMS FOR VAN USERS OUT OF ITS CAMBRIDGESHIRE WORKSHOP. ON SCENE MEETS THE MAN WHO LAUNCHED THE BUSINESS AND HAS RACKED UP THE HOURS DELIVERING A SWIFT AND UNBEATABLE SERVICE.
There is a saying VanKit’s founder and owner James Hardy has relied on ever since a former business partner told him the secret to success: he who has stock is king. And adherence to this maxim has served Hardy’s in-vehicle racking business well, since it was established 14 years ago. VanKit is the UK brand of a European-designed racking system for light commercial vehicles and Hardy’s firm is the exclusive distributor in this country. Hardy says he spied a niche in the market, as the handful of existing racking firms at the time seemed interested only in pursuing large organisations operating significant numbers of vehicles. What he wanted to do, he says, was look after the smaller companies but give them the same – or even a better – quality of service.
“We fit into the marketplace with smaller businesses and give them a quality service because we hold all the stock,” he states.
HODDY’S RECOVERY IN GATESHEAD HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE IT WAS FIRST ESTABLISHED BY MARK HODDINOTT IN 1995. BUT A DEVASTATING FIRE JUST A FEW YEARS AFTER ITS INCEPTION MEANT HE HAD TO VIRTUALLY REBUILD THE COMPANY FROM SCRATCH. ON SCENE FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE RECOVERY OF HODDY’S RECOVERY.
Eight-year-old Jay Hoddinott is too young to work for his Dad’s business, but he already has a very important job. He has to name all the vehicles on the fleet. So when you go into the yard in Gateshead, you meet Eddie the 8-wheeler, Donald the DAF, Larry the Landoll and even Charley the Cherry Picker. And the big ex-Army Foden has been christened appropriately The Beast from the North East. His Dad, Mark, shrugs his shoulders and grins, telling us: “It’s just a bit of fun, but it makes people notice them!” Hoddinott, known to all as “Hoddy”, was originally a plant fitter in Sunderland, working on trucks and excavators, and also drove a lowloader, but he started Hoddy’s Recovery in 1995. “I had a little two-car council garage doing repairs, and I had a Ford Transit which I fitted with a spec lift, which I built myself, and it grew from there,” he recounts. “I moved to bigger premises and got my first wrecker, an ERF 4-wheeler which I bought off Albany Motors in Gateshead. I got hold of a 4-wheel drive Bedford for off-road work, and a Volvo 6-wheeler which I bought from Stranraer Recovery. But then about three years after I started, we had a huge fire and the whole place burned down. I managed to save the Bedford and the Volvo, but I lost the ERF and everything else, and had to start from scratch.”
HOW DOES A FIRM THAT STARTED OUT AS A COUNTRY FORGE AND BLACKSMITH’S TURN INTO A BREAKDOWN AND RECOVERY SPECIALIST? WHY BY CHANGING LANES, OF COURSE. ON SCENE REPORTS.
It is essential for any business to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing marketplace. Not responding to structural changes in the market has led to the downfall of quite a few operations, after all. But bringing about change is never easy and doing so in a family business can be especially tricky, because apart from the requirement to introduce the change itself there are also the dynamics of the family relationships to be considered. Fortunately, the family members involved in long-established business Lanes Recovery have decades of experience in responding to change in the marketplace. Over the last 70 years or so, the operation has certainly moved far beyond its origins as a country forge and blacksmith’s serving the farming community in rural Monmouthshire. The move into breakdown and recovery work came early on in its history and the firm soon expanded into a full-time accident and recovery operation which now has multiple depots covering south and mid-Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Gloucestershire. Car and commercial recovery, vehicle movements, servicing and repair are its main activities, but the family is always looking for ways to increase the range of services. And despite its reinvention in this sector, it remains fiercely aware and proud of past achievements, especially those of the late Cyril and Rita Lane who founded the business.
THEY JUST DON’T SEEM TO MAKE THEM LIKE DEREK BEAHAN ANY MORE – AND MORE’S THE PITY, GIVEN HIS PERFECTIONIST NATURE AND COMMITMENT TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF SERVICE. ON SCENE REPORTS.
Derek Beahan Recovery is one of Ireland’s oldest and most reputable recovery businesses, operating from the heart of Dublin. Described by all who know him as a gentleman, the affable Dubliner behind the company prefers to refer to himself as a “creature of habit”, which is no bad thing when those habits are based on solid core values and commendable morals. Derek, who was born in Kilmainham, served his time as a diesel mechanic with the South of Ireland Public Works before going on to work for PJ Hegarty Demolition and later Hire Plant. Having met his future wife in Dublin, he then spent a number of years maintaining CAT and Terex machines used in road building projects in Nigeria on behalf of JV Duffy (Plant) of Shankill. Derek enjoyed every minute he spent working in Africa, until he reached his goal of earning enough money to buy a house for himself and “The Doll”, as he affectionately refers to his late wife Ann Marie. Upon his return to Ireland in the economic recession in 1982, Derek purchased a small shed for the repair of cars for clients such as Tractamotors, as well as lorries used for transporting bread into Dublin.