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Executive Report : Bright and buoyant
Business has started briskly for a hirer specialising in lighting towers. Alan Guthrie reports.
Hiring mobile lighting towers used to be highly seasonal, with the onset of darker conditions in the autumn and winter months creating demand from construction site managers seeking to maintain productivity throughout the working day. However, growth in other markets, such as events, has led to year-round demand, and Health & Safety regulations have also emphasised the need to ensure adequate lighting is provided for workers and visitors.
This is borne out by Illumin8, based in Battlebridge near Basildon, which specialises solely in hiring these machines. The business was officially launched in May 2016 by MD Neil Fenwick, who has considerable experience of the event hire market. He previously worked for Eve Trakway, joining in 2001 as a sales executive supplying temporary ground protection products and fencing.
In 2006 it was bought by entrepreneurs Rick Barnett and Chris Lowton, and in 2011 they acquired the hirer Brightlights in order
to add a lighting tower activity. Neil was placed in charge of this operation, until both businesses were sold in 2014
“At Brightlights, I really enjoyed being involved in contracts from the start through to completion,” Neil told EHN. “I knew the strength of the market and believed there was still potential for another specialist hirer, so at the end of 2015 I drafted a business plan. I had kept in touch with Rick Barnett and Chris Lowton,
and asked them to check it, and they said they were looking for another challenge, and they decided to invest in Illumin8 with me, since their contractual non-competing clauses had expired.
“I had also heard about the new mobile lighting tower manufacturer, Trime, whose UK operation was being established by Ray Caulfield and Paul Hay, both of whom I had known for years from dealing with them at Towerlight, where they had worked previously. I was very impressed by their new X-Eco model that has been designed specifically for hire. It is important to us that our equipment addresses issues that our customer base is concerned with, such as reducing their carbon footprint and other environmental benefits. The X-Eco has six LED lamps, gives low levels of noise, emissions and fuel consumption, and is very compact, with 14 sets typically fitting on to a standard truck instead of eight or nine, reducing transportation costs when serving larger events and industrial sites. Two machines can also be linked and powered from just one of the engines, again saving fuel.”
Illumin8 decided to standardise on the X-Eco, placing an initial order for no fewer than 100 machines, adding a further 20 last October and taking delivery of 40 more in May to meet demand. “We specify the units
with several bespoke characteristics, including a telemetry system that enables them to be tracked, switched on and off remotely via a phone or laptop, and monitored remotely to check operational status and to diagnose operational errors or malfunctions, which saves the customer time and increases efficiency. We also have towing eyes fitted, enabling three machines to be daisy-chained and towed by one vehicle, giving faster setup and site clearance.”
Illumin8 reports that it has quickly established itself in the events market, as well as construction and industrial sites, supplying equipment to a variety of concerts such as the Isle of Wight Festival and the Battle Proms at Blenheim Palace, as well as to prestigious attractions like The Queen’s 90th Birthday Party at Windsor Castle. “In the autumn, we also successfully targeted contractors working on building sites and on highway maintenance projects. More recently we have supplied a significant number of lighting towers for a rail electrification contract between Reading and Cardiff, which will last for at
least 18 months. We also provide a re-hire service to other companies to meet local demand.
“Something that customers appreciate is that all our delivery vehicles are effectively self-sufficient, since they either carry their own compact forklifts or incorporate crane attachments,” said Neil. “This means we can unload quickly on-site and collect the machines efficiently. We also offer a full installation and
de-rigging service and can provide on-site support throughout an event. We cover the country from our Essex headquarters, and have delivered lighting towers for television location filming in Inverness, for events earlier this year to mark Hull’s status as the City of Culture for 2017. We also have lights on long-term hire at a large construction project in Birmingham, and will be providing units for the UEFA Champions League Final at
Cardiff in June.
“Within the next two or three years, we plan to open additional depots to serve other regions, but for the time being we are ploughing resources back into the business to expand the fleet. We are currently well ahead of our business plan and the market is buoyant. So whatever Brexit may bring, the future certainly looks bright.” •