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Advancing with Avants

The versatility of Avant Tecno’s multi-purpose loaders has enabled a Norfolk man to establish his own compact plant hire business. Nick Johnson reports.

Such is the nature of Paul Bacon’s growing plant hire business that he often works well off the beaten track. When I visited him recently near his base in rural Norfolk, he was busy using an Avant Tecno mini loader with a trencher attachment in the middle of a large field. This off-road location defeated my sat nav, but he successfully talked me in!

Paul Bacon digging a trench for a water supply pipe using his Avant 635.

Digging a trench across a field to carry a water pipe to a recently re-located pig house complex is typical of the many diverse tasks being carried

out by the machines in the growing Avant Hire Services fleet. For this job, Paul was using his most powerful Avant 635 equipped with foam-filled tyres, extra rear counterweights and a Digga BigFoot trencher attachment. This combination was making light work of creating a 150mm wide trench to a depth of 600mm.

Paul first used an Avant mini loader when working with his two brothers in their family-owned steel frame building business in Norfolk. He soon saw the potential of this type of multi-purpose machine as a self-drive hire tool, and this led to him setting up Avant Hire Services in 2008 at his home near Attleborough.

Growing fleet

Subsequently, the hire fleet has grown to eight Avants, together with a large selection of attachments. “It all started as a bit of a sideline. However, the interest that has been shown in the Avant products and their ability to tackle so many different jobs, particularly where space is at a premium, spurred me on to make it my full-time occupation.”

As well as the 635, the operation runs the Avant models 420, 528, 530 and 630. These are all diesel-engined machines made in Finland and supplied by local dealer, Avant Plant Sales of Thetford. As well as getting good support from Colin Marshall who runs this dealership, Paul also benefits from being located in the same county as the importer, Avant Tecno (UK) Ltd.


Paul is convinced that mini articulated loaders are the way forward on many landscaping, ground works, building and agricultural projects because their mechanical muscle can reduce labour requirements and increase productivity. He considers that the ability to offer many alternative attachments is the key to gaining good hire utilisation. Therefore, he can supply not only standard buckets and the trencher, but also pallet forks, a concrete mixer, augers, mowers, a flail cutter, a crane jib, a rotavator and a chipper.

Whilst Paul does carry out some operated hires himself, much of his business is self-drive hire throughout East Anglia. A good example of a current contract hire customer taking self-drive units is Robin Tacchi Plants, a large wholesale nursery specialising in shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Paul initially supplied a 630 model to this business, to supplement its own pair of older Avants equipped with forklift masts. That hired machine proved such a success that the nursery has now replaced its own machines with two more new 630s contract-hired from Avant Hire Services.

The hirer’s machines have also been seen recently working on a trunk road improvement scheme in Norfolk and at a holiday complex in Suffolk. Three models were hired by contractor May Gurney to assist with the replacement of the central safety barriers on the A140 Diss bypass, and one unit has been used to move large potted plants and shrubs at the Center Parcs holiday complex in Elveden Forest.

As well as these

prestige jobs, Paul says that, as the capabilities of his Avant

This 630 is one of three machines on contract hire to Robin Tacchi Plants.

machines become better known, he is picking up more general business. Units are being used to muck out pigs, plant trees and, even, to assist local villagers in moving items such as Aga cookers and oil tanks from their houses where access is limited.

• 01953 714896

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