Sunbelt Heathrow takes off
18 February 2021
Sunbelt Rentals’ new Heathrow hub depot is something of a flagship. It reflects the company’s aim to combine the services of a specialist serving niche markets with the ability to service large multi-discipline customer contracts nationwide.
Indeed, this has been shown by Sunbelt’s magnificent and ongoing response in helping to establish over 400 coronavirus testing and vaccination facilities throughout the country.
Situated in Staines on the busy A30 and about two miles from Heathrow Airport, the depot was for many years a facility for A-Plant (Sunbelt Rentals’ previous name until its official re-branding last March), but it has been substantially redeveloped to the tune of approximately £3m.
The 60,000 sq ft premises accommodates five of the six businesses within Sunbelt’s Specialist Solutions business unit, namely Safety & Communications; Survey; Climate Control; Rail; and Test & Calibration. Sites operated by the sixth business unit, Industrial, are typically located on customer sites.
Sunbelt’s Rental Solutions business unit, which previously occupied this site, has re-located to a six-acre presence in nearby Colnbrook, giving it much more space for larger equipment like powered access, power generation and general plant.
“The scale of the Sunbelt business is simply phenomenal and it’s an exciting opportunity,” says Jonathan Newport, managing director of Specialist Solutions. He joined last March having spent 17 years with Vp’s ESS Safeforce division and, previously, six years with HSS Safe & Sure, both of which he played a key role in establishing. “There is a tremendous collaborative work ethic amongst all Sunbelt’s businesses to deliver complete equipment solutions.
“The Heathrow hub has been fitted out to a very high standard, from the offices for the hire controllers and managers, the impressive training rooms for customers and colleagues, through to the imposing illuminated Sunbelt sign at the front of the building. It’s important that we provide a great environment for all our people, so that they can operate safely and comfortably as we strive to deliver great service to our customers.
“We currently have 25 full-time employees on site which will increase to 50 over the coming weeks as our search to recruit high calibre, service minded talent ramps up. Today the depot is open from 6am to 6pm so that customers can pick up and deliver equipment on their way to or from their place of work, but this will expand to operate 24/7 later this year. This is a reflection of the scale of our operation and the demands of our customers operating across markets as diverse as Rail and Facilities Management.”
The new site has a classroom and several other training facilities. These include two railway tracks, one outside for demonstrating equipment like rail clipping machinery, and the other indoors for showing sensitive survey products. There’s also a ‘rat run’ confined space training module and a face fit testing facility.
“Another plus-point is that there is ample on-site parking, which can be virtually impossible to find when attending training courses in London,” says Jonathan. “With Covid, more people are avoiding public transport. And our parking spaces are laid out to accommodate work trucks and vehicles, not the tiny Morris Minor-size spaces of yesteryear. It’s little things like this which, we believe, set us apart.
“Each business has its own standalone presence at the Heathrow hub, with its own dedicated management team, but they can all work together to provide what the customer needs. In this way, we can be both comprehensive and specific.”
I’ll be reporting more about Sunbelt Rentals’ new Specialist Solutions division in a future blog post.
• On a personal note: I had déjà vu when I saw that the Heathrow hub’s address is 242-252 London Road, Staines. Many years ago, before I covered the hire industry, I worked for a publisher with premises at number 250, long since demolished. So it’s just possible that one of Sunbelt’s hire counters at Heathrow is located where my old desk used to be...