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Ashley Chilton at the company’s Bacup depot.

Handling demand

Alan Guthrie visits a hirer in Lancashire whose core activity is in providing specialist materials handling equipment.

Although is specialises in lifting and materials handling products, Ash Site Equipment has steadily broadened its hire fleet to meet demand from contractors who want to obtain more of the items they need from a single source.

The Bacup-based business was established three years ago by MD Ashley Chilton, who has extensive hire experience, having entered the industry in 1993 as a hire desk controller with HSS, before moving to several independent tool and plant hirers in the north of England. “I became aware that the Health & Safety Executive was increasingly focusing on lifting and handling operations in the workplace and I could see a clear hire opportunity as people sought appropriate solutions for tasks such as moving kerb stones and paving. In 2002, I started a hire and sales business based in Bury with a business partner, specialising in this kind of equipment, and we were also appointed as one of Probst’s first UK dealers.

February 2014, which was appointed as a Probst dealer for Lancashire and Yorkshire. Initially I worked from home, storing equipment in my garage and buying tools and other items for the hire fleet to meet customer demand. I eventually just ran out of space and moved into an industrial estate unit in September 2015, adding the adjacent building last October, and the customer base has kept growing. We became a dealer for Fairport Construction Equipment in 2016.”

Meeting diverse requirements

The hire fleet includes a variety of Probst equipment, such as block lifters, paving equipment, vacuum lifts up to 2500kg, grabs and clamps. One of the company’s strengths is that, as well as the machinery, it offers a wide range of attachments, and in different sizes, to suit diverse requirements. “Often, a customer will not know exactly what item they need. We ask them about the task they are undertaking and we can then provide them with the appropriate solution. We re-hire to other companies who need a specialist supplier of this equipment, and we can also supply items of plant through selected partners.”

Recent Probst additions that are proving popular include the FTZ concrete block grab and a range of RVD pipe lifters. Other equipment in the hire fleet includes Stihl cut-off saws, Taskman pressure washers from Seddons, and plate compactors from MBW and Fairport. The company also supplies consumables such as OX safety accessories and PPE, Mexco diamond blades, and FuelBox red diesel, in cartons and in bulk, from New Era Fuels.

Recent Probst product additions include an RVD pipe lifter… … and an FTZ concrete block grab.

“When my business partner unexpectedly ‘moved the goalposts’, I decided it was time to go, but I knew there was still potential for a similar operation. I had contacts with a hire subsidiary of a Bredbury- based company and we formed Ash Hire & Sales in 2006, which moved to a site near Warrington the following year. However, for various reasons, including the 40-mile commute each way from my home in Bacup, I eventually left and formed Ash Site Equipment in


The company supplies equipment over a surprisingly large area, owing to the specialist nature of many of the lifting products. “We get a lot of new enquiries from people who find us on the internet,” said Ashley Chilton. “We deliver throughout the country and we currently have machines in Scotland, London and Norfolk, and on the south coast. Many existing local customers also use us when they are working outside their normal region.”

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