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Colin Inglis acquired Eagle Plant Hire in 2004.

Eagle’s leap of faith

Constant investment in its equipment fleet, even during the downturn, has enabled Eagle Plant Hire of Glasgow to expand its operation and win more customers throughout Scotland. Alan Guthrie reports.

Originally formed in 1994, Glasgow-based Eagle Plant Hire Ltd was acquired by MD Colin Inglis in November 2004, since when it has successfully grown from a small local tool hire business to an operation that offers a broad range of plant and machinery, as well as tools and equipment, to clients across the Scottish central belt and, indeed, most parts north of the border.

Colin had actually started his career in publishing. “I helped to start up several magazines and the company I worked for grew from four employees to more than 20, but it was a jointly-owned business with two Directors. I knew I wanted to run my own operation one day, and I sought new opportunities in a different industry. I eventually had interests in a number of businesses, including one based in Glasgow hiring bouncy castles which grew quickly and needed larger premises. My accountant knew of a property for sale, and the business that was using it was also available for purchase, which was the tool hire company. The more I thought about equipment hire, the more fascinated I became with it, and eventually bought it with my brother, Alan, although he does not play an active role in the business.

“It was a typical local hire shop, and it had a good reputation, supplying tools and equipment to tradesmen and members of the public, but it offered no plant at all. We looked closely at the customer base and saw it actually included a significant number of larger contractors who appreciated our service, but were going elsewhere for what we did not offer. We believed there was real potential to

broaden the fleet profile, so that we could become a single source of supply. We now have 50 mini excavators up to 5 tonne, comprising almost entirely Kubota models. We also have a wide range of concrete and surface preparation equipment, including vibrating pokers, multi-screeds and ride-on power floats from suppliers such as MBW, and we have a broad range of roller screed tubes from 3m to 10.5m. We are now supplying some of the largest groundworks contractors in Scotland, and several national hirers regularly re-hire from us.

Opportunity to grow quickly

“We took a leap of faith at the start of the recession. We decided to invest substantially in the fleet and saw this as an opportunity to grow quickly, especially as we noticed that most of the nationals were doing the opposite. While credit availability overall was squeezed, banks continued to lend to housing developers building three and four-bedroom homes for the typical buyers with 2.2 children, who were still able to obtain mortgages, and this led to demand for our equipment. Instead of repairing old fleet items, we replaced them with new products and we have maintained a strict policy of regular renewal.

“We have bought a lot of new equipment in the last 12 months. We renewed all our Hilti breakers and rotary hammers and the majority of our Stihl cut-off saws, and we have been buying more 1.5, 3 and 5 tonne Kubota minis, Thwaites 3-tonne swivel-skip dumpers, 30 Doosan two-tool compressors and a Niftylift 170

Eagle has a wide range of concreting and surface preparation equipment. 23

Colin Inglis states, “Half our fleet is less than a year old.”

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