A wide range of smaller equipment and consumables is offered.

loading, unloading or erecting 20ft of ten by ten with board bearers, they will know), not forgetting folding beds and babies’ high chairs. COSHH was something the police carried to hit people with.”

After co-founding Acorn Hire from 1992, Martyn Birch joined Didcot Plant in 1997. “I had known Fred Tarrant for years, having re-hired from him during his time as owner of Axworthy & Co., and we were both ardent Reading FC supporters. He created a position for me in the company and that gamble quickly turned into a success as I brought my extensive knowledge of small tools and equipment and business development to the hire operation. We have always viewed how important it is to continuously invest in our fleet, ensuring it is new, reliable and well-looked after. We now have over 150 diggers and dumpers comprising Kubota minis up to 3 tonne, 6 and 9-tonne Volvo machines, Thwaites dumpers and Bomag rollers, and we recently added four Manitou MT625 compact telescopic handlers which fit well into our plant range.

Quality of service

“We are a bit like International Rescue, as in the old ‘Thunderbirds’ TV series. Someone will ring up basically asking us to help get them out of a hole. We have that reputation in our area. Once we had an emergency request to supply all the temporary fencing and crowd barriers for a large Oxford university ball because the original hirer ‘forgot’ about the contract - we got the kit there within an hour, and have kept the customer since. Our customers know that our quality of service means we do not get into price matching or discount battles.”

The local area is a hive of construction activity. “More than 10,000 additional homes are planned and there is much development in Didcot town centre. The old power station site will accommodate housing and leisure facilities, the railway station is to be redeveloped, and a large car park is being built opposite our depot. Many contractors tell us they have ten or 15 years work ahead. And we still serve homeowners and members of the public, which is reflected in the breadth of our fleet.

“One thing that has remained a constant over the years is the requirement to provide our customers with the best possible service. This is the prime factor that separates those who care and those that don’t; those for whom it is a career or livelihood, and those for whom it is just a job.

“I have to say that I have come across both national and independent hirers providing both extremes of top quality and embarrassing rubbish where standards of service are concerned. This latter observation is 99 times out of 100 caused by promising something that you knowingly cannot fulfil.

“The entrepreneurial skills of the traditional hireman were usurped by the ‘cloneism’ style of management, which began to pervade the industry throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, which resulted in many top class middle and senior managers being levered out from positions of importance and influence to the detriment of those businesses. Fortunately for the industry, most of them reappeared fronting either new ventures or bringing their skills into the emerging independent hirers,” continued Martyn Birch.

“Our industry is a one-off and must always be seen as one with its own culture. A culture of placing our customers, staff development and teamwork equally at the top of the pyramid and not one hidden behind or lower than the other. We now have the best possible products available that modern technology provides. We must ensure respect for and observance of Health & Safety regulation and compliance. There are no excuses nowadays. Never forget how simple and honest the goal is, and how to manage and achieve it. Carillion did.”

Thwaites is one of Didcot Plant’s key plant suppliers. 22

Manitou MT625 telescopic handlers are amongst recent fleet additions.

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