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Q&A: Iain Cooksley

9 April 2021

Q&A: Iain Cooksley

Iain Cooksley is Sales, Marketing & Operations Director with the Aylesbury-based Energy Group, which expanded its operation over the last year and now offers generator hire and sales, haulage, audiovisual hire and sales, plant hire, recreational vehicles, heating and cooling, communications and power distribution. Iain worked for a number of plant hirers before joining the company in 2018.

How’s business?

It’s picked up at an astonishing and enjoyable rate across all our operations. As soon as Boris Johnson announced the lockdown easing roadmap on 22 February, enquiries flooded in. We now already have 40 events we’ll be involved with this year and weddings are going through the roof.

What products are in particular demand at the moment?

Equipment in our Event Hire and Production Hire divisions obviously, and the construction market is also buoyant with demand for telehandlers, minis, temporary power and powered access. We’ve just confirmed our capex for the next 12 months and we’ll be investing in the fleet significantly.

What are you most proud of in the past 12 months?

No one will ever forget the lockdown on 23 March. Looking back it was a turning point for the business as we explored new markets [as described earlier on the blog here]. Our entire team accepted new working arrangements, furlough, flexi-furlough and other changes without question. Everyone kept in touch with each other and showed great loyalty.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business or the wider industry?

Sustaining a profitable working model for the next nine months until full normality will hopefully resume.

And what’s the biggest opportunity?

Given our expansion last year we can now offer a full turnkey event hire service and clients are appreciating that.

Who or what inspires you?

My colleagues, each and every one of them with their continued efforts day in, day out, and their ‘never give up’ attitude.

What annoys/frustrates you?

Lack of communication and attention to detail. The success of any project depends on people talking to each other; you understand the pros and cons of an issue, devise solutions and get things done.

How do you relax after a hard day?

Due to the last 12 months, I’ve almost forgotten! I do a lot of DIY. I’ve completely renovated the bedrooms in our house with en-suite facilities. And I re-designed the garden with a fire pit and barbecue ready for when we can really socialise again.

What was your favourite school subject?

PE. Any sport with a ball basically.

How did you get into the industry?

I am an electrical and mechanical engineer by trade and 25 years ago I worked for a company installing gas detectors on forklifts. I was given the wrong rivets for a pop rivet gun and injured my right hand badly. While I was off work I saw an ad for a depot manager at Hewden in Worthing, got an interview and started shortly afterwards. After working for other plant hirers I joined Energy Group in 2018.

If things had been different, what other career might you have chosen?

I’d probably still be in electrical engineering.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given, or that you would pass on to others?

A six-letter word starting in ‘E’ and ending in ’T’ – Effort.

Tell me a surprising fact about yourself or the business.

From Energy Group’s foundation in 2014 until the pandemic, we had maintained over 100% growth, year on year.

Do you follow a particular sport and/or team?

Liverpool FC. When I was three my parents gave me a small mirror with a caricature of Graeme Souness [captain in the early 1980s] playing in the European Cup and I was hooked. My wife Penny supports Newcastle, so weekends can get a bit interesting.

What new skill would you like to learn?

I would love to have the time and finances to obtain my pilot’s licence. Penny gave me a lesson as a gift once. I love flying and we can’t wait to get back on a plane and go on holiday.

What are you most looking forward to once life returns to normal?

Becoming a grandparent for the first time in September!

What’s the secret of success?

Effort, determination and resilience.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add about the business, the current trading outlook or future plans?

The future is bright for the Group. We’re looking forward to providing our full turnkey service to clients in all the sectors we service.

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