Hewden chief sets his sights on the major contractors

Adrian Murphy CEO Hewden
Adrian Murphy

Adrian Murphy was named Hewden CEO earlier this year after moving from Speedy. Here he tells Project Plant’s Gary Moug about his ambitious plans for the future. 

NEW Hewden CEO, Adrian Murphy, has reiterated the firm’s commitment to the Scottish market in an interview with Project Plant.

Adrian joined the national hirer earlier this year, having worked previously as chief operating officer at Speedy Services and managing director of Hilti.

He replaced Kevin Parkes, who re-joined Finning as director of their equipment solutions division.

Adrian aims to explore new avenues and develop relationships with some of the country’s largest contractors – and that includes in the thriving Scottish market.

He said, “We have six depots in Scotland and I was up in Inverness and Aberdeen just last week. It’s a market Hewden has historically performed well in.

“There seems to be renewed confidence in the Scottish market, things have settled a bit (since the Independence Referendum).

“There are major projects coming up, investments are being made. We’re also starting to get involved in the offshore market.”

Adrian has joined Hewden at a busy time, with the firm having invested tens of milllions of pounds in new plant during the course of 2014 and 2015. One of his main aims is to re-establish the company as a major player in the crane hire industry.

“I think Hewden has really underplayed the fact we’re the only other national supplier of cranes in the UK, along with Ainscough,” he said.

That’s where much of the new investment is going and Adrian is relishing the opportunity to revitalise a firm which, in his own words, had “gone off track a bit”.

“I think the company was in need of a bit of love,” he added. “We have a good brand, a good reputation. There’s a lot of affection for Hewden, a lot of goodwill in the marketplace.

“There’s been a lot of changes over the years. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to be a number one and develop a new strategy. The potential is there. I believe there has been under-investment in some areas like cranes, and in supporting areas like attachments, so I’ll try to take that forward.”

Adrian believes the industry has suffered a “bit of a blip” post-General Election, but he is hopeful about the future. “The industry’s a little bit down at the moment,” he revealed. “If you look at some of our competitors’ results, there has been some slacking off. But I’m still optimistic about the general outlook.

“We have to tackle the skills shortage in our industry. People coming out of schools and colleges have different choices now. The industry needs to up its game – I’m not just talking about the plant industry but the whole of the construction sector. We need to make our organisations more interesting places to be part of and continue moving towards being more professional.”

To this end, Adrian highlighted Hewden’s recent award of a Gold Medal at the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards 2015. This is issued to firms across multiple industries that demonstrate ‘Gold level standards’ for at least five years in a row (Hewden has seven consecutive years). “We need to demonstrate true value to customers,” Adrian continued. “That includes doing more around health and safety. Customers don’t want run of the mill products. They’re looking for a solutions provider.

“Demonstrating our credibility on issues like health and safety, and on service, helps us stand out. As a national hirer, we have high standards.”

One thing Adrian has no intention of disbanding is Hewden’s successful Core Fleet Guarantee. Claimed as a first in the hire sector, the guarantee offers customers a next day delivery on the most hired plant and access machines or they receive a cash credit. “The Core Fleet Guarantee has been good for us,” Adrian added. “It’s a simple offering which customers understand.”

The Guarantee is only part of the Hewden strategy, however. Adrian concluded by saying he wants to establish better relationships with the major contractors in the construction sector.

“We have good relationships with the smaller contractors,” he explained. “But I want us to also be dealing with larger contractors. In five years time I want us to be far more connected with our customers, dealing with larger contractors and offering a more diverse product mix.”