Q & A: Amy Gilbert
22 January 2021
Amy Gilbert is a Director of Site Equip, a specialist hirer of portable sanitation equipment serving the south of England. She has worked in every area of the family-owned business, which has adapted successfully to meet pandemic-related challenges and recently expanded its depot network.
Good! We have just opened our third depot in Stotfold, Hertfordshire, complementing others in Hampshire and Kent, to create a triangle around London. Although Covid-19 has made things difficult, we are set to have our most profitable year on record.
What is your standout Covid-19 related memory or experience?
At the beginning of March, it became clear that hand sanitiser stations were going to be in short supply. Since most events were looking to postpone at this time, we had the idea to utilise the hand sanitisers in our event fleet and build specific hand sanitiser stations for our customers, including the NHS, MOD and key workers. Our Site Build team [which makes bespoke toilets, showers and accommodation] have a brilliant attitude and supported this manufacturing operation, producing them in record time. The sales team then worked like crazy to get them out on hire, supported by our logistics team who arranged quick, safe and secure delivery across the south of England.
What legal or regulatory change would help your business or industry generally?
We have introduced Site San to our operational site services as an added layer of protection into our units on hire. This spray of fine mist kills 99% of bacteria and most viruses, including coronavirus. It must be a way forward in helping to combat the spread of infections on site.
How did you get into the industry?
You could say I have always been in the industry - growing up in a family business, you are immersed in it! I have been in and out of the business, for most of my life, doing every role from credit control to delivering toilet trailers, but I joined permanently around ten years ago.
Who or what inspires you?
My family: my mum Sonia, dad Geoffrey and brother Adam - my co-directors. They inspire me to challenge and push both myself and the business to be the best we can be. There is always room for improvement and growth, and I constantly try to exceed their expectations.
What annoys/frustrates you?
Chasing other people for things!
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given, or that you would pass on to others?
You don’t have to provide an answer straight away. Take some time and sleep on it. I always have a better solution or idea the next day.
What new skill would you like to learn?
Patience. As I say, not everything has to be done immediately and at 100 miles an hour!
How do you relax after a hard day?
I tend to be always working. Running a 24/7 business can be very full-on at times, especially during a flat-out events season, so I only really relax when I am on holiday!
What was your favourite school subject?
Art textiles, business studies and dance. My dyslexia meant I didn’t enjoy the ‘traditional’ academic subjects, but I thrived doing those that allowed me to be creative and to think outside the box.
If things had been different, what other career might you have chosen?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
On what topic could you give a 30-minute presentation with no preparation?
The world of toilet hire!
Do you follow a particular sport and/or team?
Only Hindhead FC, who my brother and dad play for. And every winter you will find me skiing in the Alps.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business or the wider industry?
Long lead times and limited supplies since Covid.
And what’s the biggest opportunity?
Becoming more environmentally-friendly. Site Equip have developed a new eco-friendly product range, our Vacuum Pods. These have really taken off with installations at NHS Nightingale hospitals, as well as Waterloo Station – the busiest public toilets in the UK.
What’s the secret of success?
Hard work, determination, and innovative original ideas. Focus on what you are doing and don’t get distracted by others.
Finally, is there anything you would like to add about the business, the current trading outlook or future plans?
We are very excited about our third depot and, now that the vaccines are being rolled out, there is at least some light at the end of the tunnel. We'll certainly be ready when the events season eventually gets under way - and we are looking forward to be standing in a muddy field again!
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