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It was a pleasure to meet so many hire people during the two days of the Executive Hire Show. The majority were in good spirits and had started the New Year with solid results for the difficult month of January, despite the adverse weather. A general air of optimism was evident on the Show stands, with orders and enquiries at a high level being reported by many exhibitors.

During the conversations that I had, it was evident that a lot of you were looking to find new products and to diversify your inventories. An old friend summed it up by saying, “I will have a go at anything that is not primarily aimed at the building and construction market.”

There is no doubt that a lot of us have grown a little weary of the low rates, slow payment and shoddy treatment of our kit that this sector of the market now seems

synonymous with. I was pleased to see some very interesting new equipment on a number of stands and it was obvious that many of you were looking to try new ideas.

This ethos was confirmed by some of the finalists in the Passionate Hirer Awards that were presented at the Executive Hire Party on the Wednesday evening. I understand that a number of them had already made new investment in hire markets far removed from the construction industry. I recommend that you visit their websites to see just how many new ideas there are out there.

Of course, we do still need to service traditional customers and perhaps we need to join forces with our suppliers to see what technology might improve production and give us, and end users, better returns. I have long been perplexed that a piece of kit that is found in large numbers in North American rental yards is still sidelined as almost a novelty by the UK construction market. I refer, of course, to the skid steer loader - perhaps more properly described as a multi-tool platform.


Apart from some specialists, many of which are also sales dealers for the genre, very few of us run this versatile product, and those that do only offer it as a loading shovel. The sheer number of potential attachments and the variety of target market places (many of them non-construction) surely warrant us looking at skid steers more closely. Are building methods and site organisation that much different on the other side of the Atlantic?

At the Show there were a number of compact ‘tool carriers’ capable of similar jobs to that of a small skid steer. Obviously, the manufacturers seem convinced that the concept is a winner. Likewise the relentless march of low-level powered access products typically offering working heights of under 6m and capable of being pushed into a lift or through a standard door. These easy to use machines are starting to make a dent in the market once dominated by pre-fabricated alloy products. The attraction of not having a kit of

loose parts to lose, damage or risk being erected incorrectly is proving a real winner.

On the support side of our industry, the computer software suppliers all seem to be bringing enhanced features to their packages, with point-of-hire electronic devices aimed at creating a paper-free trail very much in evidence.

The previous two Shows in 2009 and 2010 were very much an act of faith in our future by the organisers and exhibitors alike. It was really great to see that their past optimism has paid off and that, judging from the buzz at this year’s event, our industry can look forward to a steady year of progress.

Incidentally, as I write this, historic events in the Middle East and North Africa look like spooking the oil market yet again. The time has surely come for us all to strive for realistic transport rates at a time when everyone knows our costs are increasing. If we cannot get the rates up now, will we ever?

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