More growth for Smiths
20 January 2022
A blog post yesterday suggested that many hirers were maintaining a confident outlook and Smiths Equipment Hire is certainly looking forward to another busy period of growth in 2022 and beyond.
Last year the Blackpool-based business opened three new depots in Lancaster, Burnley and Castleford bringing its total to 16, and it successfully launched a first-call re-hire service, maintaining the momentum generated by celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2019.
The senior management team has been expanded with the appointment in September of sales director Sean Mercer (pictured above), who previously held a similar position with HSS where he worked in three spells for the best part of 30 years.
Latterly with HSS, Sean handled key accounts which included a national re-hire element and this is an area that he is helping Smiths to develop further.
“The idea of working for a privately owned family business really appealed, together with the fact that, as joint managing directors, David and Thomas Smith are still very much at the helm. It’s a very flat management structure and we can make decisions extremely quickly,” Sean told me.
“It’s very exciting and extremely busy. The number of cash customers is still incredible as people work on their gardens, build extensions, convert lofts and create home offices. It’s relentless and we can hardly get our hands on enough kit. Smiths have also established a very strong Trade Card business, developed in depot and online, which is growing at an equally relentless rate of sign-up.
“The Smiths brand is so well established and trusted in our region, and so people readily come to us or find us online. And we still have four depots in and around Blackpool and The Fylde coast, which shows our commitment to local service.
"Having that density of coverage across our region means we can get equipment out, collected, serviced and back out on hire very quickly.”
However, Smiths is also attracting business from across a far wider area. “We get enquiries from contractors in London, and for specialist equipment that we don’t normally offer including a complete new range of Solar Eco items to reduce on-site emissions.
“That’s driven by the internet and we obviously take decisions as to whether it’s practical for us gear up for a specific hire request. As a result, re-hire is going through the roof and it’s probably our biggest area of business growth.”
Sean says that growing awareness of the Smiths brand and the company’s services is driving much of this demand. “We had a call late at night from a power company a few weeks ago that needed equipment in the wake of Storm Arwen. In the past we might have missed that, but our one-call National Hire service captured the enquiry and within 24 hours we had 27 generators delivered to north east England for homes without power supplies.
“We see more growth like that over the next two to three years, and you are always on the lookout for new opportunities.”
Another area of focus is staff recruitment and development. Smiths is organising ‘investment in talent’ workshops to coach personnel for higher management roles. Apprentices have been taken on under the Government’s Kickstart scheme, while involvement with organisations like Recycled Lives and Buildforce are offering opportunities to ex-offenders and service veterans.
“The company is furthering its commitment to sustainability by switching all its senior team to driving electric vehicles (EVs),” says Sean. “Those covering shorter distances have full battery EVs while those such as sales managers driving high mileages have hybrids.”
The company has also expanded its head office facility in Blackpool, having added the adjacent premises in the summer. This has given more meeting space and will enable the further expansion of the sales team to accommodate the national rehire growth – which is clearly very necessary, given the anticipated level of growth at Smiths.
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