RICHARD Denholm is sales and service director for Morris Site Machinery, a fifth generation family-run business which is continuing to see sales grow north of the border.
The manufacturer and distributor provides customers with a range of construction-related products from lighting towers and generators through to pressure washers, pumps and pressure testers.
The company has seen sales in Scotland rise dramatically since relocating from a depot in Perth to a purpose-built facility in Stirling.
Richard told Project Plant about the importance of the Scottish market, the rise in environmentally-friendly products, and why honesty is always the best policy when it comes to customers.
Q) WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND? HOW DID YOU FIRST BREAK INTO THE PLANT INDUSTRY?
A) I made welding my speciality, however, I have been heavily involved in generators and general plant for many years. I am a motor mechanic by trade but then started as a plant fitter with Nixon Hire looking after the power equipment. From here, I progressed from service engineer to regional manager covering the whole of Scotland selling welders and generators.
Q) WHAT’S THE HISTORY OF MORRIS SITE MACHINERY? WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU CURRENTLY MANUFACTURE/DISTRIBUTE?
A) Morris Site Machinery manufactures and supplies a full range of equipment to the hire industry including lighting towers, generators, welder generators, pressure washers and pumps. Our products are well established and recognised for their quality and longevity – for example, we see 20-year-old ArcGen welders that have run coming in that are still in excellent working condition.
Q) HOW IMPORTANT IS THE SCOTTISH MARKET TO THE BUSINESS?
A) Scotland is a very important market sector for us and we run a dedicated sales and service centre at Springkerse Industrial Estate in Stirling. Our depot was originally in Perth before we opened a purpose-built premises in Stirling in 2014, allowing for stronger business links and accessibility to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The move from Perth added 130% additional space for the business meaning we were able hold more stock which is now available for next day delivery.
Q) HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO BE CONSTANTLY INNOVATING AND INTRODUCING NEW SOLUTIONS TO THE MARKETPLACE?
A) It’s incredibly important to us that we continue to innovate and move forward with changing technologies and the increasing importance of sustainability. Customer communication is key to getting our new products and solutions right and we listen and take on board their feedback.
Q) WHAT ARE YOUR MOST RECENT PRODUCTS AND WHAT CURRENT TRENDS ARE YOU NOTICING IN TERMS OF THE TYPE OF EQUIPMENT CUSTOMERS ARE LOOKING FOR?
A) Earlier this year, for the first time we debuted a prototype at the Executive Hire Show. The SMC TL55 Solar H2 lighting tower has environmentally-friendly fuel cells with no pollutants as its only emission is water vapour.
This additional energy source intuitively kicks in to charge the batteries as required, during long winter nights and adverse weather. It operates from two, easily accessed hydrogen cylinders mounted within the chassis.
By showcasing an early model, it provided us with customer feedback that allows for further alterations to be made.
Q) HOW COMPETITIVE IS THE MARKET IN WHICH YOU OPERATE? HOW DO YOU STAND OUT IN THAT ENVIRONMENT?
A) The hire industry is fortunate to have a lot of choice when it comes to equipment with a wide range of specifications. We don’t just support our customers with their machinery requirements, we provide expert advice and ultimately aim to become long term service partners.
Q) WE’VE SEEN YOU EXHIBITING AT SCOTPLANT. HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE KIND OF TRADE SHOWS TO YOUR BUSINESS?
A) ScotPlant has always been a great opportunity to meet and engage with Scottish customers who have been loyal to the Morris Site Machinery brand. They look for quality and service in their providers, both of which are attributes that resonate with our own ethos.
Executive Hire Show and Showman’s Show also provide good opportunities to meet with both new and existing customers.
Q) THE NEWS, OF COURSE, THIS YEAR HAS BEEN DOMINATED BY CORONAVIRUS. WHAT IMPACT HAS THE PANDEMIC HAD ON THE BUSINESS AND WHAT MEASURES DID YOU PUT IN PLACE TO ADAPT?
A) Like most businesses it came as a shock and we had to learn to adapt very quickly.
We have been available for our customers throughout the pandemic, albeit with a reduced capacity.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen green shoots emerging, which is a real positive for the hire industry.
Q) WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNGSTERS CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE INDUSTRY?
A) It is not easy, but if you specialise, you will be more in demand. I have never been out of a job.
Make sure you listen and learn, especially if you have a mentor with experience.
Q) CAREER HIGHLIGHTS?
A) There have been a few but one that comes to mind was when I had worked hard on trying to sell super silent generators to Hewden Stuart for a contract in Glasgow.
The director was Bert Dargie, I knew I had the order for 10 machines when he offered me ‘biscuits’ with my tea! It was special because I was 22-years-old and no one had sold ‘super silent’ generators back then.
Q) BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
A) Do what you say you’re going to do. By being truthful, even if it’s bad news, you will gain more respect and trust from your customers and they will recognise you for your reliability.
Q) ANY FUNNY ANECDOTES FROM YOUR CAREER?
A) When working for a hire company, we had a generator that was required to go out. There were no engineers available so the hire controller asked the new apprentice to check over a 6kVA diesel generator and make it ready.
He discovered the battery was flat so was asked to jump start it. Ten minutes later, he could be seen on the cameras pushing the generator around the car park as fast as he could to ‘jump start’ it.
Needless to say, he soon learned how to jump start a generator!
Q) HOW DO YOU RELAX WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
A) I like my motorbikes. Last year I completed a 2,200 mile trip across Spain, Andorra, France and Belgium – all done in a week on my BMW R1200 GSA.
I follow all motorsports but recently took to clay pigeon shooting.
Q) FINALLY, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT MORRIS SITE MACHINERY’S PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
A) We continue with our commitment in investment in development of green sustainable products, meeting customer demand for green credentials. We will continue to adapt to a changing marketplace.