Q & A: Tony Criddle
20 November 2020
Answering all my questions this week is Tony Criddle, the Operations Director of Beaver Tool Hire (Chichester) Ltd. The company was founded in 1978 and operates out of six depots along the south coast of England. Tony joined the business in 1989, which seems strange as he claims he’s 35 years old!
Touch wood and cross fingers, it’s surprisingly buoyant given the current circumstances.
What is your standout Covid-19 related memory or experience?
Definitely the week running up to the first lockdown. I visited all our branches and spoke to all the staff, telling them that the company basically had to close. A very strange and emotional time.
What legal or regulatory change would help your business or industry generally?
When a piece of kit is not returned, it’s basically stolen. The police aren’t interested because they claim it’s a civil matter. It should be a criminal matter.
If I gave you £5,000 to invest in your business, how would you spend it?
Probably on kit with the best return on investment, like material lifts, compaction equipment and the like. Or we’d throw a party for our staff - if we are ever allowed one again!
What about £50,000?
Again, more material lifts and probably some more powered access equipment.
Who or what inspires you?
People! I like nice people and thankfully my staff and customers are nice. Mostly!
What annoys/frustrates you?
People! I don’t like unpleasant people.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Everyone makes mistakes, but when you do make one there are three things you should do: admit it, learn from it and don’t do it again! (That advice came from my woodwork teacher at school.)
What new skill would you like to learn?
To play the harmonica.
How do you relax after a hard day?
Pottering in my workshop with a cold beer.
What was your favourite school subject?
If things had been different, what other career might you have chosen?
Probably running a bar or pub. Or maybe even the next James Bond!
Do you follow a particular sport and/or team?
I like rugby, tennis and darts.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business or the wider industry?
As an industry we need to hold our prices. It sometimes seems to be a race to the bottom with the discounted rates from some companies. To offer great service and great kit, we need to charge a fair price - anything else is unsustainable.
And what’s the biggest opportunity?
I think keeping up with new technology and spotting the next ‘big’ thing.
What’s the secret of success?
Keeping the wife happy.
Finally, is there anything you would like to add about the business, the current trading outlook or future plans?
We will just keep Beavering away!
Look out for another fascinating Q & A with a hire industry professional here next week.