The right side of the tracks

Gareth McLaughlin

AFTER joining his father’s drainage company as a machine operator straight from school, Gareth McLaughlin is now Sales Manager for Kilwinning-based Kattrak International Limited.

Specialising in the hire and sale of wheeled and rubber tracked dumpers, the family owned business was established in 2005 after the McLaughlin family saw the need for low ground pressure tracked dumpers in the Scottish construction industry.

Now entering their strongest period of operation, with 60% growth in the last 18 months and a coveted deal with German plant manufacturers Bergmann in place, Kattrak’s success has been driven by a strong family work ethic and passion for the industry.

“I’ve always had the hunger for doing construction and the family love plant machinery,” Gareth explained.

“It’s the enjoyment we get out of adapting machines and bringing new products in and selling and hiring them out. It’s just good to be around it. It’s always what we’re going to be about. It’s what we know and it’s what we’ll stick to. If you’re enjoying something it should always work out for you.”

Gareth’s father, Peter McLaughlin, started Kattrak’s parent company McLaughlin Drainage in 1960 after working in agricultural field drainage as a young man, hand draining fields by shovel with his own father round the Ayrshire farms of Kilwinning. After purchasing large drainage machines and securing local contracts, the firm them moved into the construction industry and now specialise in golf course and sports facility drainage. Although still heavily involved with McLaughlin Drainage, Peter is also Managing Director of Kattrak and maintains a hands-on traditional approach to work.

“My father’s old school: he just gets out there and does the dirty work. You’ll never get him out the workshops. He still loves working with all the pumps and hydraulics and engines,” said Gareth.

Alongside their primary hire and sales service, Kattrak also offer specified machine adaptions and modifications depending on customer requirements and boast an extensive spare parts and repairs service as well. With all machines and parts held onsite, the company is very much a close-knit and personal family affair with workshops, warehouses and family homes all located at their Ardoch Farm base in Kilwinning.

Having worked his way up through his father’s businesses, Gareth also helps adapt, modify and convert machines when needed, and considers his past experience as a labourer and plant operator invaluable to his current position.

“You’re always better starting at the bottom and working your way up, because then you know all aspects of the company. Get the feel for it and work your way right up. If you want to become a Director you’re best working from the base up; then when you’re up there you’ll know how everyone’s feeling and how the people around you are getting their work done.”

Kattrak’s new partnership with Bergmann, secured in March 2014, means the company are now the sole supplier of Bergmann machines in Scotland. Having already sold a range of Bergmann Dumpers to the construction industry, Kattrak has purchased their own machines for hire also. Supplying Bergmann Dumpers including the 3012 Rear Tip, 4010 Rear Tip, 3012 Three-way tip, 2060 Swivel Tip and 2040 Swivel Tip, any design modifications, amendments and updates Kattrak or their clients require will be completed by Bergmann before delivery.

The exclusive new deal, combined with a surge in contracts and choosing the right products, has, according to Gareth, seen the company go from strength to strength in recent years.

Yet foremost, Kattrak is still driven by the people behind the business.

“The success is solely down to the determination of the people within the company,” added Gareth.

“The essence of a successful workforce lies in its people. You’ve got to pick the right avenues to take the company forward as well. A lot of people are out there with good companies and they go and buy a Ferrari and buy this and buy that and the company goes down. We’re not about that.

“I’ve always been taught by my father that it’s not about being flash, just keep the company going and keep the growth and the strength of the company. That’s how we do it. That’s how we operate. The focus is always on the company. We’ve got pride in our name; if we start a company we never plan to shut that company down.”

With core family values running through the company, and a proud lineage of determined hands-on workers, Kattrak look set to continue the growth that has seen the family prosper since their early business beginnings in 1960 and the establishment of Kattrak in 2005.

So what keeps the McLaughlin family working in plant after all these years?

“Enjoyment and sheer determination. Don’t get me wrong it has been hard. But it’s like everything else, you’ve just got to have the knowledge to get to the next stage.”