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“We can supply anything anyone with a large garden needs.”

Flourishing independent

Hiring gardening equipment has been at the heart of Duxford Hire & Supply’s success since it opened for business more than 40 years ago. Alan Guthrie reports.

Equipment for gardening, grounds care and landscaping tasks has always been the principal focus for Duxford Hire & Supply, which is located approximately ten miles south of Cambridge. Proprietor Malcolm Evans founded the business back in 1969, after the garden machinery sales company he was then employed by, in nearby Saffron Walden, ceased trading.

“I knew this sort of equipment, and the market for it, very well,” he recalls. “The business was originally based at my home in Duxford. We were able to use a large outbuilding at the rear of the property as a showroom and storage facility, and right from the start we offered equipment hire, as well as operating a small landscape contracting service in our local area.”

Being located in a predominantly rural area within easy commuting distance of the City of London, there were, as today, many large properties with substantial gardens within the company’s catchment area of an approximate 20-mile radius, and business grew steadily. In the late 1970s, the decision was taken to wind down the landscape contracting activity to concentrate on, the core hire business. “We added to our fleet, increased our retail stock of machinery and gardening sundries, and in 1983, we re-located to our current premises just a few miles away in Whittlesford. This gave us much more space, with a 1600ft2

aerators, chippers and lawn scarifiers. In fact, we were one of Tracmaster’s very first customers.We also offer items for small builders undertaking work such as extensions and conservatories, such as Belle mixers, Alto mobile towers and Bosch breakers, as well as popular mainstream hire products like floor sanders and wallpaper strippers.”

An area of specialist activity is arboricultural equipment. Duxford Hire & Supply is a Fletcher Stewart dealer, offering climbing ropes, harnesses and other items for tree surgeons, and the hire fleet also includes small Timberwolf chippers. “In the past, we have considered introducing compact plant such as mini excavators and compact dumpers, but we decided this would take us into a different kind of market that we would not be fully able to serve. However, it is something we might explore again in the future.”

The business was established in 1969. main

building, plus enhanced workshop facilities. An extension five years later doubled the size of the premises.

“We can supply virtually anything that anyone with a large garden or estate needs to maintain it,” says Malcolm. “Our hire fleet includes rotary mowers, ride-on tractors, chainsaws, strimmers, hedge cutters, lawn scarifiers, aerators, stump grinders and chippers, and we principally target homeowners and landscape gardeners. We concentrate on quality equipment from leading brands, such as Stihl and Husqvarna, for which we are also main dealers.We offer Hayter and Countax mowing machinery, and we have a lot of Tracmaster’s Camon equipment in the hire fleet, including rotavators,


Joining Malcolm in the day-to- day management of the business is his wife, Julie, and their son, Martin, who joined five years ago and also runs another operation, Country Toys from the premises, supplying play equipment, trampolines, and go-karts. Machine maintenance is co-ordinated by Workshop Technician, Justin Stevens, and the company has built up a successful gardening equipment

servicing operation, which brings in additional revenue during the traditionally quieter autumn/winter period.

“Trading certainly took a dip last year but, while we are not yet back at the same business levels as, say, mid-2008, the market now seems to have stabilised. There are a lot of people who, while obviously being cautious about what they spend, still want to keep their gardens well maintained. One thing we are adamant about is that we never compromise on our hire rates. If you start cutting prices, you are travelling down a very slippery slope.We stick to our quoted rates, and customers appreciate that we offer good quality, reliable machinery that gets the job done.”

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