Q&A: Mark Alexander
16 July 2021
Mark Alexander is a co-director of KMA Tool Hire & Sales in Mold, Flintshire, which he founded with his wife Kerry in 2017. The company offers a wide range of equipment alongside other services like chainsaw sharpening and garden machinery supplies to meet local needs. It also stocks workwear and PPE.
How did you get into the industry?
I started with Delyn Hire in Mold in 1988 on a four-year apprenticeship on the old government Youth Training Scheme. Delyn was acquired by Speedy in 2005 and in 2010 I joined Travis Perkins Hire before starting KMA.
How’s business at the moment?
It’s very good. We have managed to keep going well throughout the Covid pandemic, and it’s been getting busier by the week.
Are any markets or sectors particularly strong?
Home improvements. Many people have been on furlough or deciding not to go away on holiday and are working on their houses, having new window boards put in, painting the outsides and adding extensions.
What are some of the most recent additions you’ve made to the hire fleet?
Hilti cut-off saws, V-Tuf cleaning equipment from Fenco, and the Muba beam lifter from the Hire Supply Company, which is an amazingly versatile product - we have five on the fleet now. Because of the home improvement boom we’ve also bought more alloy towers and folding towers from Pop Up Products, who are near to us in Deeside. We try to support local companies, which is good for the regional economy and lowers our carbon footprint.
What equipment did you supply for the three most recent hire orders you received?
Alloy towers, fence panels and portable toilets on re-hire.
What do you think are the main challenges facing the industry?
Red diesel tax changes, and the potential rise of unregulated hires via people offering equipment on social media sites.
What’s the most challenging hire request you’ve ever received?
During severe flooding in the town in November 2000, we worked all hours to arrange the hire of equipment to help people in need. We also supplied a lot of dehumidifiers, dryers and carpet cleaners to assist in the aftermath.
What annoys/frustrates you?
Negativity in the national media, poor customer service and lack of choice for consumers when so many big players and retailers drive prices down to virtually monopolise the market. Local firms are so important, and when a small sports club or charity group needs support, it is usually them they have to turn to for help.
What was your favourite school subject?
History. It’s fascinating understanding how people lived and worked in different times.
If things had been different, what other career might you have chosen?
I had the choice of an apprenticeship with either Delyn Hire or Royal Mail, as I was offered a place with both. I obviously chose tool hire. I’m still in touch with some of the other lads who chose the postal service. One of them sometimes delivers the mail to our house.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given, or that you would pass on to others?
Never give up. Keep getting up when you’re knocked down because tomorrow is another day and you will succeed.
Tell me a surprising fact about yourself or the business.
I played Subbuteo table football at a national level as a child. I joined a local club, found I was good at it and successfully competed in various regional heats. I got back into it again during the lockdown.
Do you support a particular sport and/or team?
I used to follow football - Liverpool, Wrexham and Wales. But now I like to follow local teams like Mold Alexander and Rhydymwyn FC. It’s far less commercialised.
What music/performers do you enjoy listening to?
Paul Weller, Oasis and the Gallagher brothers, Snow Patrol, dance music, rap and soul music, country music – a very broad spectrum to be honest.
What’s the secret of success?
Great customer service.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Take a holiday, probably in Florida where we had our honeymoon. It was an amazing place. I would also invest in some more hire equipment or maybe another branch - but please don’t tell Kerry!
Finally, is there anything you would like to add about the business, the current trading outlook or future plans?
The future is looking good for KMA. We are looking at taking on some more staff and a trainee apprentice – after all, a hire apprenticeship set me on a good road in life. I would like to see more British-made hire products, tailored to the UK climate and market. When issues like shortages of equipment and supplies improve, I think it’s a case of onwards and upwards if people do business in the correct way.
● Read about how KMA helped its local community during the pandemic here.