Lifterz Ltd the Yorkshire LINK member has been awarded this prestigious quality standard.
Lifterz the No1 provider for hire, sales and training in the region, said ‘we are over the moon with this new accreditation and proud to be able to offer our customers assured quality of product and service.’
The IPAF Rental+ programme guarantees customers the highest service levels in the industry and peace of mind when it comes to meeting their own business needs.
New Website – New Marketing Strategy
You may have noticed our new site, which has been created by marketing specialists
‘The Design Bank’
In an industry where time is of the essence, the immediate benefit is the speed of communication with your local Access Link depot.
This benchmarks a complete marketing strategy to take Access Link (now the largest body of independent hire company’s) to a whole new level of customer support and service.
Light Hire Reach New Heights of Customer Service
Light Hire Ltd, an approved IPAF and PASMA training centre in Exeter and Barnstaple which trains people in the safe use of mobile elevating platforms and erection of aluminium towers are investing in training for internal staff in addition to instructing their wide range of clients.
Paul Roddis, Light Hire’s Training Manager is ensuring that both current and new staff have the skills and knowledge to remain at the cutting edge of the access platform industry. Clive Wotton, the Barnstaple Depot Manager and Graham Sandford, a Technician in Exeter both recently achieved success at a mechanical and electrical course for powered scissor lifts and hand held analysers at JLG UK in Manchester whilst Graham has also studied hydraulic and electrical schematics for boom lifts at the Genie European Headquarters in Lincolnshire.
As Paul comments ‘it is vital to ensure that our staff receive training in order to keep them fully aware of latest developments in our fast moving industry. Light Hire is determined to continue to invest in the personal development of all our staff in order to ensure that the equipment we supply is maintained and delivered to the highest possible standards.’
The top quality of equipment, training and service at Light Hire was also realised with the recent IPAF Rental + accreditation and the ongoing development of the company has been demonstrated through the rapid expansion of the fleet, the growth of the training programme – now covering powered access, aluminium scaffold erection and inspection, manual handling and the fitting of abrasive wheels plus the recent addition of new offices in the region.
Access Link Appears to Have Re-established Itself
The second biggest player in the UK powered access market is not a company but an association of independents that support each other under the banner Access Link. Now in its 10th year, Access Link is in recovery mode after a few difficult years that saw several members, including two of its driving forces, leave the association. Access Link is intended to enable small-to-medium sized powered access hire companies with at least 50 machines to offer their customers a countrywide service – nationwide is not a word that Access Link likes to use – by rerenting machines from other members.
The first blow came in 2004 when AFI left. Having opened its fifth depot it was itself growing into a national player and becoming too big for the association, with depots starting to compete with fellow association members.
Key losses AFI’s departure meant it also lost Malcolm Bowers, who had been one of the key people in setting the up the Link and driving it forward. Two years later, in 2006, came a further blow when another leading member, Panther, was acquired by Lavendon, the market leader. Not only did this mean the loss of 1,300 platforms to the link, but also two more key individuals in Richard Miller and Brian Fleckney.
The same year saw more losses as Uplift was acquired by AFI and AMP was acquired by Lavendon. In 2007, North East Access was bought by what had become AFI Uplift. As each of these departed, however, new members were steadily recruited to complete the network and maintain countrywide coverage.
One of these was Lifterz, based in Ossett, West Yorkshire, set up in 2007 by Malcolm Bowers (with his son Ben) who had left AFI a couple of years previously and been working for Lavendon on a consultancy basis. Today, Mr Bowers is once again chairman of Access Link for 2008. It is a position he held previously when AFI was a member.
“The more successful companies outgrow it or get bought and are replaced by smaller companies” MALCOLM BOWERS
Healing the hurt
Mr Bowers acknowledges the harm the departures did to the network. “The Link went into the doldrums for the past year or two with the loss of certain members,” he says. “Panther was a very big mover and pulled in a lot of the HSS/Speedy-type of rehire work on behalf of the Link.
When a company like that leaves it can be devastating. “It seems that as long as the Link exists, the more successful companies will either outgrow it or be bought, and be replaced by smaller companies.”
Today, Access Link has re-established itself with sufficient members to have an aggregate fleet of around 5,000 platforms – roughly half the size of Nationwide Platforms, but clearly bigger than either Panther or AFI Uplift – and 25 depots across the UK.
There are 18 UK member companies, plus Skylift, with its three locations in the Republic of Ireland.
“This year is all about reinvigorating it,” Mr Bowers says, and offers up the new website (www.accesslink.biz) as an example of that.
The Access Link brand will be used more strongly in certain markets, he says. M r Bowers describes Access Link as less construction oriented than Nationwide or AFI Uplift. Smaller companies like the Link members tend to target work such as local authority contracts, facilities management projects and retail work. Customers have the benefit of a local service, a single point of contact and a single source of invoicing, according to Mr Bowers. “Our strapline is ‘Local servservice, countrywide’,” he says.Some members are more aggressive at marketing and bringing in revenue for the Link, but that’s fine, Mr Bowers says, since everyone wins.
“I think the 80/20 rule applies – 80 per cent of the business comes from 20 per cent of the players,” he says. He puts his own company, Lifterz, into this category. Unlike many members, though, Lifterz is “proactively looking for national account work” as a core strategy.
It generated £210,000 of work for the Link over the eight months to August 2008 and received £70,000 of this for itself, he says.
“We had 81 machines on hire yesterday from other Link members.”
His typical customer is less likely to be a major contractor than an M&E outfit or refrigeration engineer who works in Aldi or Netto stores all over the country, he says. To ensure that all member companies can be assured that their fellow members maintain a certain level of customer service and look after their machines professionally, Access Link agreed six months ago that by mid-2009 all members would have achieved IPAF Rental+ accreditation, a kite mark scheme run by the International Powered Access Federation. The IPAF Rental+ mark is designed to demonstrate that holders have passed a rigorous third party audit of all their procedures, from hire desk management to machine maintenance and staff training.
The ability to offer IPAF operator training is also a requirement of Link membership.
“We are pretty near full coverage now,” says Mr Bowers. “There are still parts of the country where we could do with another two or three dots on the map. But we currently have three applications for membership to discuss at out next quarterly meeting in December.”Looking further ahead there are tentative plans to take the Link to mainland Europe.
“We want to grow across Europe,”Mr Bowers says. Discussions have been held with Partnerlift, a similar association of independent hire companies in Germany. “We are hoping we can find the basis of an arrangement with them,” he adds. Partnerlift has already gone beyond the scope of Access Link, employing a full-time, paid managing director and using its purchasing powers to place a bulk order with JLG for platforms on behalf of individual member companies. Access Link, it seems, is roaring back to life.
“We want to grow across Europe. We are hoping we can find the basis of an
arrangement with Partnerlift”