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Ready to Advance

Alan Guthrie visits Advance Tool Hire & Sales in Nottingham, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary and continues to expand its activities.

One of the reasons that Advance Tool Hire & Sales gives for being able to win a loyal and growing customer base is that it aims to offer as much as possible of what contractors and tradesmen need from a single source, including fixings, fastenings and other consumables, alongside tools and equipment, thus saving customers time and increasing their efficiency.

“We keep expanding the fleet to meet demand. We now have 22 1.0-tonne and 1.5-tonne minis, comprising Bobcat and Kubota models, and we recently added two Bobcat 3.0-tonne machines which can be towed behind a new Land Rover that we also bought. In addition, we have ten Cormidi tracked barrows. We plan to add more scissor lifts and to introduce boom lifts, and we are currently negotiating the purchase of nearby farmland for storage to accommodate this growth.

“A recent, smaller fleet addition is a Dosko compact shredder from Hire Supply Co, whose Long Eaton headquarters is very close by, and we also source items like transformers and cables from them. Another locally-based supplier is inspHire, whose MD Graham Dobbs used to be a colleague at DITP until he opted for a career in hire software. We were one of inspHire’s very first customers. Other popular brands include Makita, Bosch and Metabo power tools, Stihl gardening equipment such as long-reach hedge trimmers and chainsaws, and Belle mixers and compaction plates. We also offer a name-engraving service for customers’ own equipment so that they can easily identify their tools on a busy site.”

Liam McElhone (right) and Jason Steeples established Advance Tool Hire in 1997.

As MD Liam McElhone explains, this approach has been at the heart of the Nottingham-based company’s operation since its formation in 1997. “I had previously spent ten years working as an area sales manager with DIPT Ltd, also known as Protrade, which still principally sells tools and fixings, alongside hire. However, I and my colleague Jason Steeples, who is Advance’s Sales Director, believed there was great potential in hire, especially as sales margins were being squeezed by the influx of cheaper overseas products. As a result, we left to start our own business.

“We found a 1,500ft2 unit on a trading estate in Radford, to the north

of Nottingham, which we quickly outgrew, and moved to a larger site on another estate in Basford, which is more central, three years later, giving us 5,000ft2 have 10,000ft2

. We soon added another unit here, so we currently . We offered a comprehensive range of fixings and

consumables, and steadily built up our hire fleet, starting with bread-and-butter items like floor sanders, carpet cleaners and breakers, eventually introducing mini excavators and dumpers. We are located on the corner of the estate, making us very visible from the main road, so we get a lot of passing business, and we are obviously seen by tradesmen and contractors visiting the manufacturers, fabricators and other businesses nearby.


Advance customers include a considerable number of shop fitters, many of which work for large businesses with premises throughout the country. “We obviously support them as far afield as we sensibly can, but we have established good links with other hirers nationally who we trust to re-hire equipment to the same standards of service. In our local area, there is on-going construction and maintenance work associated with the two universities in the city, and we also

A wide range of hand tools and consumables is offered.

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