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Visions of expansion

Nixon Hire, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year, plans further growth throughout 2018, as Alan Guthrie discovers.

Despite unforeseeable business challenges such as the blizzards and gales caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ weather system that afflicted the north east of the country, and industry investment delays caused by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Newcastle-upon-Tyne based Nixon Hire has made steady progress and is carefully planning for expansion.

MD Graham Nixon says the extreme weather made the first three months of the year “difficult, but since Easter business has rocketed. We have been buying ahead of our planned capex to keep up with customer demand and catch up on lost hire revenue. We have concentrated on our core areas like excavators, dumpers, telescopic handlers, compaction equipment, toilets and site accommodation, whilst selling off old and under-utilised assets.”

The company has a dedicated used equipment sales team selling older stock to ensure it maintains a youthful machinery fleet. “Due to the wide range of equipment available, we appeal to a wide range of sectors, meaning we can balance out unusual peaks and troughs in the marketplace,” says Graham Nixon. “As such, turnover forecasts remain on track to exceed £64m for the current financial year. And as for next year, we aim to grow this figure as a result of the planned expansion of the depot network.

Product innovations

“One product area that is ‘on fire’ at the moment is site accommodation. We have invested over £6m in our cabin fleet this year, bringing expenditure in this division to over £20m since 2015. We have also continued to invest a significant amount of time in the development of the units we purchase. It is a process that I, as MD, am actively involved in. My remit is to offer an innovative, modern product without the price tag. As an example, our range of site

The Snoozepod sleeper unit is a recent addition.

offices are all of flat-sided steel and fitted out with UPVC windows, PIR (passive infra-red) detectors for lighting, and thermostat controlled heating. We class this as our standard unit, compared to some competitors who charge more for this premium.

“Over the past 18 months, there has been greater competition in this market following the entrance of some national and large regional players with substantial fleets, so we have introduced some new niche additions to complement our core fleet,” said Graham Nixon. This was demonstrated by two products shown at the recent Scotplant exhibition in Edinburgh. A new-look (inside and out) welfare cabin and new Snoozepod are the result of collaboration between Nixon Hire, the container fabricator Eldapoint, and AJC Trailers. The welfare cabin has strong ‘eco’ credentials, with low-voltage lights, PIR detectors, UPVC windows, thermostatically controlled heating, a fully fitted kitchen and flat-sided steel panels with curved corners.

The Snoozepod is Nixon Hire’s sleeper cabin, comprising two bedrooms, a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower, plus a kitchen including a sink, microwave, kettle, fridge, and hob. An Ecosmart system regulates the power usage of the generator to reduce fuel consumption, and energy-saving LED lamps are fitted. On the plant side, new additions shown at Scotplant included Hydrema 912F 10-tonne dumpers, and an appraisal of JCB’s Hi-Viz 7T site dumper is currently under way.

The breadth of Nixon Hire’s fleet was shown by its Scotplant stand. 24

While focusing on larger site equipment, Nixon Hire also offers a substantial range of tool and utility items such as floor and hand saws, breakers, compaction machinery and road plates. This shows the size and breadth of the product offering and, consequently, the business operates out of sizeable depots with significant yard space. The company has 13 locations stretching from Nairn down to

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