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Newsletters from 2000 to 2003

Winter 2003

History of Astley Hire Part 3 (1975 to 1978)

The next few years were busy ones for the Dorricotts, as they set about establishing their business. The hire of tools and equipment industry was very much in its early stages, so as well as establishing the business, they had to innovate and learn from the start. It is taken for granted today, but in the 1970's there were few hire companies to benchmark against.

The Astley depot was closed and the business moved to Brooklands Mill, on English St, in Leigh. This was where Michael started to learn the trade, alongside his father, Cyril. The move allowed Astley Hire to begin to create a strong presence in Leigh which has lasted ever since.

The mill premises were not ideal, though, and within 18 months the depot was moved again. The decision was also taken to close the Atherton depot and to combine it with the Leigh depot.

The new Leigh premises were at the rear show room of County Motors on Chapel St. This was the first time that the two brothers Michael and Stephen worked together, as they still do today.

The two brothers have always managed to split the business between them — Michael learnt his side of the business in the workshop, and Stephen on the hire counter. This proved to be the perfect combination, as their strengths and experiences now compliment each other wonderfully.

Stephen has gone on to study accounts and marketing, while Michael has continued to learn about the equipment, health and safety issues, and training. For a short while they were joined in the business by their sister Carole, until she left to start a family.

The business grew steadily over the next few years — the car show room advertised itself more, and customers became increasingly aware of Astley Hire. Advertising in newspapers was then seen as a major method of promotion.

In 1978, it was felt that to take the business forward a full time rep was required. At that time, the main competitor was a company called John Simms. They were based 800 yards away and they had three or four reps, concentrating on the construction market (they would much later be bought out by HSS)

So Astley Hire employed their first full time rep, George Voiels (until this time the selling was being done by Cyril). George came to the business with a lot of experience, having worked for three other hire companies, his last being as sales manager for PB Power Tools.

George proved to be an excellent addition to the team, and the business grew quickly over the next two years. So much so, that a decision was made to move again to bigger premises, this time away from the main road. New, more suitable premises were found on Moss Industrial Estate. The company moved there in October 1978, and remains there today.

Christmas opening hours

The Bolton depot is closed from Christmas Eve until Monday 5th January 2004. Any enquiries should be made to the Leigh depot during their opening hours, which are as follows:

Wednesday 24th December — 8am - 12noon
Christmas Day — Closed
Boxing Day — Closed
Saturday 27th December — Closed
Sunday 28th December — Closed
Monday 29th December — 8am - 12noon
Tuesday 30th December — 8am - 12noon
Wednesday 31st December — 8am - 12noon
New Year's Day — Closed
Friday 2nd January — Closed
Saturday 3rd January — Closed
Sunday 4th January — Closed
Monday 5th January — Open as usual

An out-of-hours contact number for the festive period is available from the depot managers by prior arrangement.

 

Winter 2001

Excellence In Training Award

It's not very often that a small business triumphs over the large ones but on occasions this happens!

Astley Hire was awarded the Excellence in Training Award at the HAE's awards for 2000.

At a glittering ceremony held in Birmingham, Stephen Dorricott (director) was awarded the trophy by Mark Houghton, director of the sponsor SpaceAir Mobiles.

In doing so they beat two of the largest national hire chains!

"We have always placed great importance on staff training", states Stephen Dorricott. "Training is a major factor in ensuring we maintain a focused approach to the business. Our customers require our staff to be well trained and knowledgeable so we place emphasis on ensuring they are.

As part of the submission to the award judges, Astley Hire showed evidence of having a structured training program. Each year a 'training needs analysis' is undertaken for the whole company based on individual staff appraisals. Training is carried out both internally, in areas such as administration, and externally with new product knowledge.

"Before any training is carried out, the objectives for the course are set both for the individual and the company", states Stephen. "The evaluation of the training outcome is also set, allowing the results to be fed back for analysis of effectiveness."

The employees benefit from training ranging from one-day seminars to block-release courses run by outside agencies. Subjects covered include hire desk procedures, customer service, health & safety, product operation and workshop practices.

"We regard training as giving added value. It builds staff loyalty and and raises productivity. They all feel involved and are empowered to run key aspects of the business such as suggesting new items for the hire fleet."

Astley Hire believes that on-going training in personnel development has brought enormous benefits. "Training impacts on all areas of a business, not just the employees. It improves the quality of the overall operation and promotes an enhanced company profile."

New Price List 2002

We have issued a new price list effective from January 2002. It is 4 years since our last list was properly updated. The new list covers all the range of equipment, we have tried to make it simple to read and quicker to reference items as most are now in table format.

We have introduced quite a few new products and dropped some others. Trends change and the new products reflect the changing requirements of our customers.

Prices also reflect changing trends, some prices have come down! This is due to equipment becoming cheaper to buy. However, overall there has been a 4% price rise.

The price increase I hope will be matched by an increase in our service, if it does not please let me know.

Customer Survey Results

In the summer newsletter we sent all our customers a questionnaire to complete, we are very pleased that overall you feel that we are doing a good job, and that each department is delivering a service that we can be proud of.

There are areas for improvement and we will be working hard this year to do so. We appreciate that transport is a concern to customers who require equipment to be delivered on time, so in the new year we will be employing outside transport to cover for busy periods.

 

Summer 2001

Visa, Master Card - We Take the Lot!

All major credit cards are now accepted!

Payment can now be made at both depots with the use of credit or debit cards.

Accounts can also be settled over the phone with our head office by the use of credit cards.

More and more companies are now supplying employees with credit cards as a way of reducing or simplifying paperwork and order systems.

American Rental Trip and a Half!

Well, what can I say? My role in the business has not always been the glamorous one. The opportunity to visit the odd tradeshow to find new equipment for our customers. This time it was different - the Hire Association Europe organised a trip to American Rental Association (ARA) trade show in Orland, Florida, USA.

We were to fly with USAirline, on arrival at Manchester we were informed of a 6 hour delay, who cares was my attitude, the only problem was that we now missed our connection at Philidelphia through to Florida so on arrival we were despatched to a hotel until the following morning.

We arrived at the airport at 8am to check in for what we presumed was to be a 9.15am flight, only to be informed that we were not booked on this flight. The next flight we could booked on was the 15.15 unless we went stand by. So we asked them to book us on the later flight, now the first bit of luck we managed to get on the 14.15 flight, so with minutes to go we got on the flight to the sunshine state.

On arrival at the Orlando airport only 1 out of 3 pieces of luggage were to be found.

As we were over 24 hours late we had missed the official welcome party and had to make our own way to the hotel. So car hire was next on the agenda.

The cost of the car was OK but by the time we had finished with the additions it cost nearly 3 times the original price.

This was my first visit to the USA and definitely one to remember.

Round Table Lending a Helping Hand!

Atherton & Tyldesley Round Table decided this year to donate a 20ft tree to Atherton Parish Church as their way of improving the Christmas spirit and brightening up the town centre.

Only problem is how do you decorate a 20ft Christmas tree, as we all know from our own experiences its not easy to get the fairy on the top.

Solution: use a "fairy picker" in this case a 12ms telescopic boom hoist. The telescopic arm makes even the trickiest fairy, light work!

Quinton Smith, a former chairman of Round Table and pictured in the photo, stated that "With this access machine it makes it very easy to decorate the tree."

Stop Press

At the HAE awards this year we won the Training category, and were shortlisted for the web site category. We are up against all the big players but we have won before and now we have won again!

 

Spring 2001

Investors In People - Now It's Official!

Astley Hire have been awarded the coveted IIP Certification for the way in which the company involve the staff in all areas of the business.

IIP is a certification which recognises the way staff are trained and are allowed to become involved in things which affect them and their ability to perform better at work.

Astley Hire has been working towards the certification for some years and it has meant changing the culture of the business to one where staff are totally involved in decision making.

This starts from the day they are first inducted and continues through a process of continuous assessment of what skills they need. Training is then tailored in oder to allow them to improve.

Staff are made aware of their importance to the company by ensuring that there is a clear trace of how an individual's targets fit within the overall company targets.

This could be where a new driver requires training on the safe delivery of machines to customers. This would tie in with the company's targets on Health & Safety.

Each member of staff receives an initial induction to the company and a training programme is established for the next 12 months setting out the individual's requirements.

This is then added to the overall company training plan. A lot of training takes place on the job with coaching from more experienced members of staff.

Some training is supplied by outside companies, this is the case for the Modern Apprenticeship scheme which we have introduced for trainees in the service department.

The directors of the company have been very pleased with the results of the initiative, as it has results in may benefits for the company.

Stephen Dorricott said that, "Staff now take ownership for their own development which is in line with the company's."

"Team performance has improved due to staff being able to affect the outcome of tasks through their own decision making."

"IIP allows us to maintain a family atmosphere while still ensuring everyone knows where they fit in to the overall plan."

£50 Of M&S Vouchers To Be Won!

Click on to http://www.astleyhire.co.uk and tell us what you think about us!

It's as simple as that! Any comments (bad or good!) about any area of our business could win you £50 to spend at Marks and Spencers.

Let us know what you think about the web site, is it useful, well laid out, easy to use?

Have you had a good or bad experience when you have hired from us?

Are there any new products you would like us to be offering?

What do you think of the newsletter? Informative or a waste of your time?

The web site is attracting more and more visitors and is being constantly developed and updated. If you've never visited our site, now is the time.

History Of Astley Hire Part 2 (1968 To 1972)

In 1968 the business was split betweeen a hardware and grocery shop and the now emerging pump hire business. Mildred Dorricott would receive phone calls from contractors requiring a water pump and she would have to stop whatever she was do and organise the hire, which included making sure the pump was serviced, loading the Morris Minor pickup, and then delivering it to a motorway construction site somewhere in the North West.

Apart from all the other problems was the fact that she had to learn to drive!

Cyril Dorricott would service the pumps in the evening and at weekends to ensure they were available for hire. The rate for hiring a pump was £1 a day.

The workshop was the kitchen table and the storage was the back yard of a terraced house.

The business was built this way from 66 to 68 when in September 68 after a lot of sleepless nights wondering whether or not he should give up full time employment, Cyril left Hireplant to concentrate on building up the business.

Cyril was aged 55 (Mildred was 5 years younger), when most people are thinking of retirement, and without any previos business experience Cyril decided it was now or never!

It was very hard work having little capital to spend and no previous experience to rely on. Every penny was invested back into new pumps. He acquired the nickname 'The Pump Man' and was a recognised figure around the construction sites of Manchester.

Slowly the business grew and more different lines were added, such as grass cutters, rotovators, ladders etc. Hire as a concept was brand new at this stage and tere were only a handful of hire companies in the country.

Business was also new to Cyril and Mildred as they had not run a small business before, except for the shop, which was gone and had been replaced by pumps, gardening and DIY equipment, and one of the first hire shops in the North West was born.

All the work was carried out by Cyril and Mildred, with Cyril doing the services and deliveries with Mildred running the shop (and bringing up the kids), these were exciting times but still very hard, hire turnover was still small and some weekends would be spent cutting other peoples' grass in order to reinvest in equipment.

In 1971/2 Astley Hire's income was £5,314. Capital expenditure was £1,234.15 on new equipment. Expenses included advertising (£170), telephone (£28), bank charges (£14), and Mr Dorricott's wages (£495).

The plant and the machinery purchased in that year included such items as a cement mixer for £64, ths was a Baromix Minor (we can still buy these machines today from the same supplier), extension ladder for £50, 2" water pump for £50, these were always bought from Goodenough Pumps, who ironically were on the Moss Industrial Estate, just a few hundred yards from where we are today (they now no longer exist).

Cyril and Mildred were quick to adapt their business to accomodate new ideas and it was good they did because they soon found out what happens when a new business idea starts to work. Others are quick to follow, others will more capital and experience!

To be continued...

 

Winter 2000

Leigh Depot is now a Registered IPAF Training Centre

Michael Dorricott, a director of Astley Hire with many years experience of access platforms, has qualified as an IPAF instructor.

We are now able to offer in-house training programs for the range of access platforms which we supply.

We have invested in facilities for running training courses which include a training room and outside practical training areas.

The courses are for 1 day and consist of a theory exam covering the health and safety aspects of platforms, followed by a pratical exam where the trainee has to be able to demonstrate the safe use of the platform.

The course can cover 2 types of machines in 1 day i.e. booms and scissors if the operators are experienced, but most courses are for 1 type of machine.

The basic course qualifies the trainee as an Operator and for the IPAF certification fee of £20 you receive a certificate, a plastic ID card and a log book for recording experience on the machines.

The certification lasts for 5 years and is recognised as the main qualification for access platforms.

Michael said, "We have always offered training courses for Mobile Access Work Platforms and have previously used an outside trainer. But we felt that the time was right to invest in our own training centre to compliment the service we offer and now we can be more flexible with the courses.

We can run a course for one person if required and tailor the course more to suit the customer. We can also train on site where required".

For further information please ring 0808 5608822 and ask for Mike or visit our on-line leaflet for the course.

ISO Audit Gives Clean Bill of Health Again!

Our annual audit by our external NQA Quality assessor was very nearly a perfect score with only 5 corrective actions required: 3 at our Leigh office and 2 at Bolton.

We were awarded ISO 9002 (BS 5750) way back in 1992 and have maintained our high quality standard ever since.

We are always striving to improve quality and we measure the areas which cause the most problems, such as breakdowns, credit notes and customer complaints.

In the first 6 months of the year we raised a total of 21 credit notes which represented less than 0.007% of the total invoices raised for the same period.

The causes of the problems were such things as incorrect prices and discounts shown, incorrect off-hire dates and incorrect account numbers used.

The number of breakdowns was equally impressive with less than 0.008% of items hired out for the 12 month period covered actually resulting in a service call where the customer had been inconvenienced by faulty equipment.

Areas creating problems were such as poor servicing, poor quality of equipment and inadequate instruction.

We aim to continue to improve and welcome any suggestions.

Director is Asked to be a Judge at the Hire Awards

In 1996 Astley Hire was voted the Hire Company of the Year and Stephen Dorricott (joint Managing Director) was proud to accept the award at the Hire Association Europe (HAE) annual dinner at the Wembley conference centre.

This year Stephen was asked to be a judge for the awards and attended the head office of the HAE where the judging was held.

The awards were for such areas as Hire Person of the Year, Hire Company of the Year and Best New Hire Product.

The awards were presented by Sir John Banham (Chairman of Tarmac) at a gala dinner evening held at the Birmingham Motor Cycle Museum in February.

Stephen said about the experience, "It was certainly worth doing as it showed the level of standard that hire companies have to maintain if they want to win such prestigious awards".

Sheila Leaves After 10 Years of Service

Sheila Moore has left us after 10 years of loyal service. She has decided to try her hand at running a pub!

Together with her new husband Dave, the 2 of them have taken over the running of the Craven Heffer in Darwin. So if you are in that area, call in for a pint.

Sheila worked as a rep for us covering both Leigh and Bolton customers. She was responsible for looking after her own customers whom she has built up a relationship with over many years.

The offer of the pub had been made to them and is something they both wanted to do and could do together. Sheila had run a pub for a few years before, so she has a good idea of what she is letting herself in for.

All the staff at Astley Hire wish her well and hope she makes a success from her venture.

We have not yet employed a replacement for her, and we will continue to look after her customers with either the depot manager calling or one of the other reps.

Community Spirit Goes to London

After 2 years of careful planning, the 'Community Spirit' , East Manchester's Community Canal Boat, completed the Millenium Challenge trip to London and back. It took 8 weeks and involved 15 separate canals.

It was an imaginative way of involving the whole community in celebrating the turn of the century. 'Community Spirit' took a little of Manchester to the towns and cities on its route and gave disabled and disadvantaged day trips as it travelled to and from London.

The whole event, which was very successful, could not have been possible without the support of dedicated volunteers and help from local companies. Astley Hire provided a generator to power a microwave and fridge which helped make life more comfortable.

The Community boat project started in 1994 when a fund raising appeal was launched to raise the £35,000 needed to build the boat. The aim of the boat is to provide an educational and fund-based activity for children and adults who are disabled/disadvantaged.

History of Astley Hire Part 1 (1966 to 1968)

Mr & Mrs Dorricott returned from working in the British Camaroons, West Africa, in 1962. Cyril Dorricott had worked there for Dunlop for several years but had decided that with 3 young children who were just about to start school they had better prospects if they returned to England.

They settled in Boothestown, near Manchester, and Cyril went to work for Hireplant who were based on the Astley trading estate, off Chaddock Lane, Astley. At the time Cyril Dorricott was 49 years old and Mildred was 44.

Cyril worked in the stores controlling the requests for plant spares. In 1963 they took another of their big steps by deciding to buy to buy a Hardware and Grocery business which was up for sale in the village of Astley. At the time it was a mining village and the double fronted shop was almost opposite the entrance to the pit. The address was 159/161 Higher Green Lane, Astley, Nr Tyldesley. This would later be the site for Astley Hire.

Cyril Dorricott used to get enquiries for 2" water pumps, but Hireplant were not interested in supplying small plant, as their business was larger operated plant. The motorway network in the North West was just starting to be developed and there was a lot of construction work being carried out. Cyril Dorricott saw an opportunity to hire out water pumps from the shop his wife was running.

He bought his first pump on the 3rd February 1966, it was a Goodenough Pump, serial no B27919-10266, it cost £53 13s 6d. He bought 3 more pumps in 1966 and started off what would later become the Astley Hire equipment fleet. At the time they still traded under the name of C & M Dorricott and one of their first letter heads is entitled "Grocery and Hardware Stores, Agents for Monk's Tours. Pumps for Hire."

Between 1966 and 1968 the pump hire fleet grew, it was very difficult in the early days for Mrs Dorricott to balance the running of a shop, the bringing up of 3 young children and the building of a new business.

To be continued...

Christmas 2000 Holidays

The depots will be closed from: Friday 22nd December 5pm to Tuesday 2nd January 8am.

The Leigh depot will open from 8.30 to 12 noon on Wednesday 27th, Thursday 28th and Friday 29th December.

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