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June 2019
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Executive Hire News › Archives › June 2019 › Executive Report : Going like a Rocket

Executive Report : Going like a Rocket

Alan Guthrie visits Rocket Rentals to discover the reasons why the business received a 2019 Passionate Hirer Award.

It is a little over two years since EHN reported on Rocket Rentals’ move to large, purpose-built premises in the green and pleasant surroundings of Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. The business has continued to grow significantly, helped by having more storage and workshop space, and by the entrepreneurial, can-do approach of its management.

“We knew the new location would help enormously because it is right on the A38 trunk road. Previously we were on a farm with no passing traffic,” said MD Simon Tomblin. “However, the impact has been even greater than we imagined, also being helped by the fact that there is a builder’s merchant a few hundred yards away.

Constantly expanding

“We are constantly expanding and everything is driven by the customer. We now have a team of 24 and, as our fleet grows, our operation has to grow with it to maintain our quality of service in all areas, from the hire desk and sales team, to the workshop and transport operations. We always have two apprentices on the books at any one time to help build for the future, and we have to ensure we get everything right first time because the needs of the customer always come first.”

The Rocket Rentals team were delighted to win our 2019 Passionate Hirer Award in the Outstanding Single Depot Hire Company category, which was presented at the Executive Hire Show. “We were incredibly proud to receive the Award and it hangs on the wall by the hire desk so everyone can see it. The feedback has been amazing, with customers commenting and suppliers calling in to congratulate us.”

The judging procedure covers many key areas, including the quality of the depot, the passion for hire shown by all staff, the hire desk and systems, fleet quality and management, workshop facilities, marketing and local community involvement. “The fellow hirer that came to judge us spent the best part of a day here. It was demanding but we found it exhilarating. He was impressed by many of the things that we do and it was great to discuss things in a like-minded manner. Winning the Award showed us we must be getting a lot of things right, and we certainly try to keep high standards, being members of the CPA, Road Haulage Association, FORS, IPAF, HAE SafeHire and, recently, the Fork Lift Truck Association.”

Material handling operation

Joining this last-mentioned organisation is significant as it marks Rocket Rental’s latest addition to its operation: Rocket Material Handling. The company was recently appointed as a Manitou dealer for Bristol and surrounding areas, supplying machines for material handling, lifting, access and warehouse tasks. “The deal came about directly from a conversation on Manitou’s stand at the Executive Hire Show,” said Simon. “We already had MT 625 telescopic handlers and MI 25 D masted fork lifts for our own use, and we often received requests to hire them out. We’ll now have a wide range to offer, including diesel, electric and LPG models. Traditionally, many businesses have simply bought fork lifts, but we can provide a competitive short-term and long-term hire packages with maintenance and backup.

“We also already had scissor lifts in the hire fleet, and customers can now source even more of what they need from us, together with tools and smaller equipment. This also enables us to target the events market more comprehensively.”

Rocket Rentals also continues to expand its existing fleet. It has invested approximately £1m in dumpers and rollers from Thwaites and Bomag. “We always look at the amount of kit we are re-hiring, which can amount to hundreds of machines - bigger than many hirers’ owned fleets! Having larger premises, with a two-acre site and 200,000ft2 of workshops, we can now store machines, and we are buying more when we can. We want to be able to say yes to any hire enquiry and that is one reason why customers keep coming back to us.

“We have also been re-hiring more lighting towers from MHM Plant to meet seasonal demand, as well as buying some of their generators like the MG 8000 SSK which has on-demand operation for efficiency. On bigger generators we have fuel filters fitted that ensure diesel is drawn from the top of the tank. The cost of one breakdown callout would cover it. We first met the MHM team at the Executive Hire Show West & Wales Regional Road Show in Bristol, which is a great event bringing key suppliers and hirers together.

“The Executive Hire Show itself is always excellent. We spend two full days there and even then it is hard to get round it as there so many new products to see and industry professionals to bump into. We did a lot of business there this year, buying floor sanders from Hiretech, pipe freezers from Freeze Master, and scabblers from Trelawny. We also touched base with Point of Rental Software to discuss what additions me might need as we develop. The purchases were for our Rocket Tool Hire operation, which will eventually have its own dedicated building on our Slimbridge site.”

Reduced carbon footprint

Like many other hirers, Rocket Rentals is introducing ways of reducing its carbon footprint. “At the Show, we bought a new Lifan electric scooter from The Hire Supply Company,” said Simon. “It’s all about embracing new technology. We can use the scooter ourselves to nip to the bank or deliver spares, and we are considering ways of offering them for hire as a package together with insurance, safety gear and other essentials for a monthly rental rate.

“We also have 150 solar panels on our roof, LED lighting throughout the offices and workshops and we are installing electric vehicle charging points for customers to use, as well as ourselves. Technology and business generally is constantly evolving, and hirers have to keep pace.” •

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