Up to the test
1 June 2020
I enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with a very busy Phil Leahy about Sunbelt Rental UK’s magnificent response during the Covid-19 crisis.
He’s MD Rental Solutions South for the business, which was formerly known as A-Plant. The re-branding had been planned to take place at the beginning of May, but it was put back to 1 June as the company focused on urgent hire activity.
Sunbelt has played a key role in creating 98% of the drive-through coronavirus testing centres across the UK. The first phase of 50 was completed by mid-May and, with more planned, the total will exceed 80. The company has also provided equipment for some of the emergency NHS Nghtingale Hospitals.
“It’s involved extensive planning, liaising with the military who were assisting, and the Government. Our people have supplied equipment from across our divisions including welfare cabins, traffic management, power generation, fencing, barriers, lighting, chillers and much more. Installations have typically taken just one or two days, with personnel working round the clock.”
Phil acknowledges the immense dedication of his team in co-ordinating operations, stretching as far afield as Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Gateshead, Glasgow, Inverness and Plymouth.
What’s also striking is the sheer diversity of the sites involved which include airports, retail complexes, theme parks, sports stadiums, corporate car parks and universities. The fact that these facilities can be put to an alternative use shows the impact that the virus has had on normal activities.
In my opinion, the logistical expertise and private/public sector co-operation required in converting them so quickly for this important temporary use surely represents a historic achievement.
Incidentally, Sunbelt says that all UK staff have received 100% of their salary throughout the crisis, although the company is not part of the Treasury’s Job Retention Scheme. It has, therefore, received no government funding towards this considerable wage bill.
Sunbelt Rentals UK CEO, Andy Wright, plans to retain those people who have been unable to work during this period, stating that "all furloughed staff will come back."
What unusual projects have YOU been involved with during this crisis? Send me details and pictures!