Supplier duo links up to offer a stronger service

Two specialist municipal vehicle suppliers - LinkTip and Kerbside Recycling - have joined forces to offer greater versatility and expertise. Maxine Perella reports

Bespoke manufacture has become increasingly important in the world of refuse and recycling collection vehicles. Household kerbside rounds vary greatly between local authorities depending on location, route and type of material being collected - this has amplified the need for specialist equipment in recent years, tailored to suit the task in hand.

Two vehicle suppliers which pride themselves on technical innovation - LinkTip and Kerbside Recycling - have recently joined forces to boost their expertise in this area and provide a one-stop-shop for customers' needs. Last November LinkTip acquired Kerbside Recycling for an undisclosed sum - while Kerbside Recycling is now owned by LinkTip, it continues to operate under its own name.

John Prescott, who used to head up Kerbside Recycling and now acts as sales director across the two companies, explains the reasoning behind the move.

"I set up Kerbside Recycling in 2003 as I could see an opportunity for supplying specialist bespoke body work. We were involved in design and sales, we didn't make anything - our manufacturing was contracted out to various companies on the tipping, lifting and body side. Bringing all this together involved a lot of co-ordination and I was getting concerned with this because if we had a problem with a chassis for instance, it had a knock-on effect down the line."

A one-stop shop
Prescott initially approached LinkTip with a view to contracting complete vehicle builds to the company at its manufacturing site in Willenhall, West Midlands. Although the two organisations were competitors, Prescott says he could see the benefits of bringing everything together under one roof. And it quickly became apparent that the partnership worked well.

"I was really pleased with LinkTip's service and quality," he recalls. "Vehicles were built to my exact specification and exceeded both mine and my customers' expectations."

According to Roger Fleetwood, chairman of LinkTip, purchasing Kerbside Recycling was a natural evolution. It also made sense from a business perspective.

"There were a number of reasons why we decided to go ahead and buy the company," he says. "Firstly, if you look at it from an objective point of view, you immediately remove a competitor. We also acquired a name that is very descriptive in the industry - it applies to the areas that we are particularly active in as a company.

Added expertise
"The purchase also added turnover to the joint organisation and enabled me to acquire the expertise and services of John himself who is very well known and respected within the industry."

I ask Fleetwood whether he has plans to rebrand the Kerbside Recycling name as LinkTip - a question which he ponders for a moment.

"It's early days - the aim at the moment is for us to operate as two separate organisations operating out of the same site and manufacturing facility. But I can't say for sure whether it will remain a separate company or not, it's something we are looking at."

He stresses that as a bespoke manufacturer that has been in business for 30 years, it is vital that the LinkTip brand isn't diluted and that the level of quality, expertise and customer satisfaction is maintained across both companies.

He adds: 'From my point of view, as owner of both companies, it really doesn't matter which one secures the order because it ultimately all goes into the same pot."

The combined turnover of both companies is now £3.5M - Fleetwood says the target going forward is to increase this to £5M over the next couple of years. With a strengthened sales force, strategic growth will come from penetrating the marketplace further and, according to Fleetwood, offering unrivalled expertise in bespoke solutions.

"The two combined businesses can provide a range of products now that is probably unsurpassed from any of our competitors," he claims.

Prescott expands on this: "I don't believe there is anybody going into the level of detail that we are with customers and what they are trying to achieve. Since coming together, I'm finding that there's potential to open up more opportunities in this area as LinkTip as a company is prepared to listen and look at the options. If it's technically possible and legal, we will look at it."

Versatile range
The LinkTip product range is broad, spanning refuse and recycling collection vehicles, bin lifts, tipping bodies and hooklift equipment. Fleetwood points to the success of the Linkpacka and Micropack RCVs which are both side loading semi-compaction vehicles, but can be produced in a variety of configurations with options for manual loading or side/rear loading bin lift equipment.

Another innovation is the Freightermate High Lift Tipper in which the body can tip and discharge its load into the rear of a RCV. These are mainly used for rural collections where the volumes aren't huge and it wouldn't be cost-effective to operate a large RCV, especially down roads that are tight to access. LinkTip has supplied a number of these to local authorities including Leeds, Denbyshire (North Wales) and Devon.

LinkTip's motto is 'In a word versatility' and with Kerbside Recycling now on board, this flexibility can only be strengthened across the combined operation.

As recycling vehicles adapt in the future to handle emerging materials such as plastics and food waste, vehicle suppliers will need to constantly innovate and the LinkTip-Kerbside Recycling outfit appears perfectly placed to capitalise upon this.

Maxine Perella is editor of LAWR

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