Glasgow-based Eagle Plant Hire has had a very good year. The company is in expansion, having bought a new 40,000 square foot yard beside its original premises in the east end of Glasgow, to accommodate an ever-expanding fleet.
Eagle was originally founded in 1994, but was bought in 2005 by current Managing Director Colin Inglis and his brother Alan.
Colin bought Alan out in November 2016 to become sole owner of the company, which operates throughout Scotland but primarily in the central belt.
Eagle supplies plant, tools and equipment to some of the biggest names in construction, but also smaller companies and even DIY enthusiasts.
In 2005, the company had just two employees and dealt mainly with small, local builders. The team has steadily increased to 19 and is likely to continue to grow this year.
Over the years, the firm has successfully navigated a recession and evolved into a “one-stop shop” for equipment and plant, including running one of the largest Kubota fleets in Scotland. The company is thriving, with a turnover of £2 million, which Colin hopes to grow by around 30 per cent in 2017.
“When we first bought Eagle, it was a typical local tool and equipment hire shop with a good reputation, but it didn’t offer plant,” explains Colin.
“When we looked at the customer base, it included some large contractors who were then having to go elsewhere for their plant, so we believed it was good business sense to expand our offering to include things like mini excavators, concrete and surface preparation equipment and roller screed tubes.
“This approach really paid off, and we’re now supplying some of the largest groundworks and civil engineering contractors in Scotland.”
How did they keep going in a recession which saw construction activity dwindle?
“Steering the company through the economic downturn was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced,” said Colin. “The skills and talent of the team, together with us being fairly small and agile allowed us to take advantage of new opportunities during that time.
“We did take a bit of a leap of faith by investing substantially in our fleet while most of the bigger companies were doing the opposite.
“Rather than repairing old fleet, we would replace them – and this has become a strict policy of ours that we have stuck to ever since. Around half our fleet is less than a year old.
“We recently bought our 50th mini excavator – most of these are Kubotas. We bought our first Kubota back in 2008 and although we have a few other minis in our fleet, we really like their reliability and durability.
“The customers like them because they’re very tough machines. As well as the new five-tonne models we also have micro K008-3s through to the KX015-4, KX61-3 and U27-4 models. We’re even in the process of building a wash bay for them.”
Colin added: “Although now we’re well known for heavier plant, we’re still maintaining our core equipment such as Hilti power tools, Stihl saws and all the smaller types of plant, all of which we have recently renewed.
“We’ve also invested in some new Boss Camlock aluminium towers, which we see great potential for from a Health & Safety perspective.”
Colin is optimistic about the outlook for the business. “This year I want to continue to build on the solid growth we have seen since 2005. We are seeing sustained demand for our equipment across all sectors, and have had a great response to our move into new areas, such as providing temporary traffic lights, traffic control signage and barriers.
“The main areas we see as challenges are the rising cost of equipment, and the fact that fuel prices are starting to rise again as the oil price begins to increase.”
He added: “I am extremely lucky to have a very loyal and long-serving team behind me, who take the growth and success of the business very seriously.
“Everyone pulls together in the same direction, and the whole team has input into how we can continually improve our service.
“We plan to grow the team again to keep up with increased business, and will be recruiting another few members of staff in the coming months, for positions on the hire desk, and sales and business development roles. It’s a challenge, but a very good one to have, and when people see our growth they are excited to be part of our team.
“I want the whole team to aspire to be the very best at what they do, because ultimately most plant hire companies supply broadly the same products, so it’s the service you provide that offers you the chance to rise above your competitors.”
For further information on Eagle Plant Hire click here.