Hirers reach out into extended markets

Grounds maintenance is proving an expanding market for groundcare equipment across the range, serving the needs of both the municipal and private areas. LAWE tracks trends in this fast moving sector

Laying claim to being the fastest growing contract hire in the Scottish groundcare industry, SGM has expanded into England for the first time after signing an initial order for £1.5 million with facilities management giant Enterprise plc.

Under the terms of the deal, SGM Finance has bought Enterprise groundcare equipment in the North East, North West and Scotland, with brand new machinery and the better equipment being leased back to Enterprise plc. Currently backed by the Bank of Scotland, SGM Finance will support the contract, which services vital Enterprise plc contracts through a network of 12 service engineers based out of depots in Gateshead, Rotherham and Southport.

SGM, which has three separate operating divisions – SGM Finance, SGM Industrial and Scottish Grass Machinery – says that it allows its customers to control their costs by providing “no hidden extras” contracts that require no capital outlay and provide all service, breakdown and maintenance. Contracts provide guaranteed breakdown response times and replacement equipment while repairs are being conducted.

Enterprise’s Executive Chairman, Owen McLaughlin, said: “We feel this is the start of a long term, mutually beneficial relationship with SGM Finance.”

David McInroy, Managing Director, SGM Group, said: “SGM Finance was created two years ago in direct response to our customer’s needs. Quite simply, they wish to combine paying for their equipment over its lifetime of use with the peace of mind that comes with terrific customer service.”

Specialist products

Also expanding its role is the well established A-Plant group used the platform presented by the this year’s Saltex exhibition to give a first time showing to a wide range of equipment from its new Specialist Products operation. As well as its Groundcare business, A-Plant Specialist Products encompasses the A-Plant Powered Access, A-Plant Rail, A-Plant Accommodation, A-Plant Power Generation, A-Plant Rentarc and A-Plant Big Air and Pumps businesses.

In addition to equipment for grasscutting, lawncare, grounds maintenance and forestry management from A-Plant Groundcare, the company displayed other equipment of relevance to these markets, including accommodation units, generators, welders, compressors and pumps.

The company offers a nationwide hire service for the grounds maintenance, golf, amenity, sports, municipal, forestry, landscape, horticultural and recycling industries, with six dedicated businesses located across the UK, in Manchester, Dunston, Peterborough and Storrington in England, Abergavenny in Wales and Irvine in Scotland.

At Saltex 2002, A-Plant showed lawncare machinery, including rear collection mowers; grounds maintenance equipment such as vacuums and blowers for cleaning up leaves or litter; tillers, stone rakes and other ground preparation equipment and forestry management products such as woodchippers, shredders, chainsaws and log splitters.

With a significant annual spend on new equipment, A-Plant aims to have the youngest fleet in the industry. The company also sets out to be the first to deliver new solutions. A-Plant also operates a full 24-hour, seven day emergency call-out service for groundcare equipment.

On track for clearance

Finding the right equipment for the job in hand is another role that the hire industry fulfils. A recent example followed a successful demonstration of clearing heather and bracken on a slope with a steep gradient using a Bobcat ® T200 Compact Tracked Loader. Impressed by its performance, Coppard Plant Hire Ltd, of Crowborough in East Sussex, has purchased a new machine and a selection of new attachments, including the Brushcat Rotary Cutter attachment.

David Coppard, Managing Director of Coppard Plant Hire Ltd, sees great prospects for hiring the new T200 and the attachments, purchased from Leach Lewis at Sevenoaks in Kent.

“The T200 had no trouble with the slope in the demonstration – there is no way you could use a wheeled loader on a hill like that. We see the T200 as a breakthrough that offers great opportunities for hire companies – we have several contracts lined up for the T200/Brushcat combination which is an ideal complement to the wide range of mowers and tracked dumpers we already offer.”

The Bobcat T200 owes its ability for climbing and working on steep grades to dedicated rubber tracks and a low centre of gravity, providing superior traction, flotation and very low ground pressure, ideal for general operation anywhere on turf, soft or muddy ground and sand, as well as on uneven terrain.

Coppard has purchased a T200 equipped with 450mm wide tracks, which exerts a ground pressure of only 26kPa. By comparison, an average sized man exerts a ground pressure of 50 to 70kPa, says Bobcat Europe.

The Brushcat Rotary Cutter is a tool for clearing brush and undergrowth at construction sites, motorway verges, alongside utility and drainage ditches, or wherever it is necessary to clear brush and tall grass. The new attachment is aimed at a wide range of potential customers, including hire companies, local authorities, landscapers, water, power and telecom companies, parks and grounds organisations, leisure businesses and site clearance contractors.

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