INVERNESS-based CS Machinery (CSM) Sales is looking to add more brands to its growing equipment portfolio after moving into significantly larger premises in the city centre.
The business began life in 2014 as a Volvo utility products dealer, covering the north of Scotland. Volvo machines from 1.5 to 10-tonnes remain a core facet of the company, which has built up a loyal customer base over the past nine years.
Other premium brands have since been added to the CSM line-up including compact loader specialist Avant, MB crushing buckets, Compacttilt tiltrotators, and Epiroc and Rammer breakers.
CSM director Angus Innes recently told Project Plant of the firm’s plans for steady growth, including a desire to take on more dealerships for products such as heavy line excavators, site dumpers, rollers, and compaction equipment to provide customers with a true one-stop-shop for all their equipment needs.
“From when the business was started in 2014 we’ve always worked with premium brands and we want to ensure we keep that right across the range of anything we do,” Angus explained. “Volvo Construction Equipment, Avant, MB, Rammer, Epiroc and Compacttilt are all at the top end of the markets they represent.”
2022 was a significant year for CSM. Founder Calum Shaw departed the company in November, while the relocation to a much larger HQ on Walker Road has provided the firm with a large, secured yard, and dedicated office and workshop facilities. Such spaces are not easy to come by in Inverness so when the opportunity arose to take over the site of a company that was entering retirement, CSM jumped at it.
Angus revealed the new base provides the ideal foundations to grow, but he emphasised the importance of growing in a ‘sustainable’ way.
The move to a bigger base was necessitated by the relatively recent move into attachment hire and sales, as well as taking on more dealerships and the desire to provide a quality aftercare service that comes with that.
A parts and service technician has been recruited, along with a dedicated accounts and admin role and a yardman, with Angus explaining that the business is ‘very selective’ about who is brought in. The new appointments were people already known to the company who were keen to come on board and fit in well with the ethos of the firm and its values.
With many of CSM’s customers operating in remote or rural locations, machine reliability is paramount – as are long-standing local business relationships.
One thing CSM believes sets the business apart from some competitors is the offering of a bespoke service. While the machines are already of a high spec, the firm specialises in modifications and providing tailored solutions for each customer’s individual needs.
“The customer can come to us with an idea, and we can help them build that into something that’s bespoke for them,” Angus revealed. “I think that adds a lot of value to the service that you’re providing when you can do that.”
While economic and political uncertainty has engulfed much of the UK in recent times, CSM haven’t seen any slowdown in demand for machinery. The Highland construction market remains buoyant with a wide variety of projects ongoing and in the pipeline.
“Because supply from the factories is still at a slower pace than it was pre-pandemic, we’re finding that what we can get, we’re able to sell quite quickly,” Angus said. “The customers are talking positively about all the work that’s in front of them and it can be varied, even in the housing sector. A lot of our customers have single projects that they work on for private clientele. It can be single bespoke house-builds or single private investment projects.
“At the moment, we haven’t seen a downturn in demand because what we sell is high spec and bespoke a lot of the time, those customers seem to have good, healthy order books at the moment.”
Buying and selling used equipment is also a major part of the CSM operation, accounting for around 40-50% of the business. The company encourages people looking to offload assets to approach them for a price.
“We do underwriting for other people as well,” Angus added. “We’ve got a facility where customers can come to us without the expectation of having to buy a new machine. We specialise in sourcing and supplying quality used equipment. There’s no pressure. They can just come in and get a price.”
With a shortage of new machines coming onto the market in recent years, Angus said good quality used equipment has commanded a higher value, though he admitted it will be interesting to see how that carries on this year as new machine availability starts to come back.
One area of the business which looks certain to grow in 2023 is attachment hire. The decision to add attachments to the CSM portfolio has been a game-changer, with crusher bucket and hydraulic breaker hire in particular proving popular.
“We have MB crusher buckets from 14- 20 tonnes that we hire out. We also have breakers from 5-30 tonnes for hire.”, Angus stated. “We noticed a market up here for people with tiltrotators who needed to hire attachments. They had a limited number of outlets to go to. We took the decision early on and it has worked in our favour because we now have very loyal tiltrotator customers looking to hire our crusher buckets and breakers.
“Again, because we’re on their doorstep, it works well for them. The crusher buckets work well in the forestry/road building side of things. Some are involved in wind farm or demolition projects. We’ve customers who carry out demolition projects that will do a whole site from start to finish and find it great that they can reuse the products without having to transport it away.
“When it comes to the breakers, the work is really varied. The high-end Epiroc and Rammer breakers in hard rock environment have proven very successful. We’ve even got some customers who have their own breakers of other brands who put them to one side when it comes to the hard environment (and opt for) Rammer and Epirocs!”