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Executive Report : Impressive display
SPE International already offers a comprehensive surface preparation equipment line-up, and its range is growing. Alan Guthrie reports.
It took me quite by surprise. As I approached the headquarters of Bartell Group company SPE International in Dunholme, to the north of Lincoln, five Red Arrows planes flew overhead and looped the loop, complete with smoke trails. They obviously weren’t to mark my visit: the famous air display team is based a mile away at RAF Scampton, so such occurrences are, apparently, common.
The SPE facility itself comes as something of a surprise, covering five acres in sparsely populated countryside. The business was founded in 1983 by Tony Mansfield and was originally based in Lincoln, eventually moving to a former chicken hatchery site in Dunholme. He had previously worked for a large painting contractor and had developed a compact shot-blasting machine that recirculated the shot for cleaning metal and other surfaces, reducing vibration and increasing efficiency. He saw considerable potential for the product and formed SPE to develop more surface preparation equipment (hence the company’s initials). John Hill joined the company in 1987 as the Marketing Manager, progressing to the position of Group Managing Director.
The company moved to its current site in 1989 and five years later it acquired and absorbed another contracting business, Blastforce. In 2013, the business was acquired by Bartell Morrison, a Canadian group that dates back to 1946 as a manufacturer of concrete finishing equipment. Its other brands include Innovatech floor grinders and scrapers, Morrison concrete screeds, and Contec NA, another manufacturer of surface preparation equipment. It also owns Precision, a metal forming operation in Kentucky.
New product development
Following the acquisition, Tony Mansfield retired and John Hill became Bartell Group Vice President for Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SPE has retained its brand identity, and the acquisition has enabled it to accelerate new product development. In early 2018, Ricky Ellam was appointed as Business Development Director. Formerly with Speedy, GAP and a founder of the original 727 Tool Hire business (which he relaunched in Great Dunmow three years ago), he is tasked with raising awareness of SPE and its products, particularly in hire.
“I have been buying SPE equipment for 30 years and I know how robust it is,” he told EHN. “Everything is made in-house, being precision-welded by skilled engineers rather than just being bolted together, and being heavy-duty it gives excellent returns on investment. More hirers are looking at this market as a niche opportunity that can attract a good rate as it often solves users’ problems. SPE also has a contracting division, so we know what people need and we can test new products at first hand to ensure they meet requirements.”
SPE aims to cover virtually all surface preparation tasks on various materials, including concrete grinders, shot blasters, concrete scarifiers, ride-on and walk-behind floor scrapers, multi-strippers, floor saws, dust and debris vacuums and pneumatic tools.
For typical hire fleets
Three products are seen as ideal for a typical hire fleet, offering versatility for many operations. The DFG280 single-head floor grinder has a floating head design with multiple settings for height adjustment and which offers edge grinding capabilities on either side. The second product is the STR-701 multi-purpose machine which can be used for dust-free tasks such as cleaning block paving, texturing concrete to remove laitance, removal of bitumen and adhesives, and preparing surfaces prior to coating. The third machine, the BEF200 scarifier, is for aggressive removal of concrete surfaces for fast results.
Six months ago, the company introduced a range of Bartell diamond cutting and drilling consumables, an operation headed by Diamond Sales Manager, Terry Grinstead. The blade line-up encompasses six categories enabling users to accurately and cost-effectively select the correct solution, and covers budget, general and specialist requirements. Wet and dry core drills are also available. “We have added the diamond product range successfully at 727 Tool Hire,” said Ricky Ellam. “The racking displays look attractive and having this sort of consumable in the shop leads to other business and repeat visits.”
SPE offers certain Bartell Group products suitable for the UK market, including wet concrete laying and finishing equipment, and it is also introducing Morrison Power Buggies. These wheeled machines have tipping skips that can be used to quickly unload concrete wagons and distribute the material on site, removing the need for bulky concrete pumps. They can also undertake other carrying tasks.
The company, which has exhibited at all 13 Executive Hire Shows to date, reported another successful event in February, taking orders on the stand and making contact with new customers. It also continues to develop new products, including a heavy-duty ride-on floor stripper, and the company’s R&D team is exploring battery technology. Evidently, the Red Arrows are not the only eye-catching attraction in this part of Lincolnshire. •