New Premises and a new dawn for Munihire
Over the past 18 months, Munihire has regularly featured within FACTS, highlighting the excellent service this company provides to its extensive list of customers in the south of England. Craig Durrant and Lawrance Webster have worked hard with their team to establish the company as the “go-to” non-operated sweeper hire and used sweeper sales company.
In June last year, Munihire acquired T&M Bowser Solutions’ Operated Sweeper Hire operation and since then has been developing the operated sweeper hire side of its business. The operated fleet has now grown to eight vehicles covering Highways England Area 2 – Somerset, Avon & Gloucestershire and Area 3 – Hampshire, Surrey & Oxfordshire. Munihire have also been working closely with and expanding their existing customer base. FACTS recently visited West Sussex to see the new premises, “Brush House” Star Road in Partridge Green, to gain an insight into the philosophy of the company and to see Munihire in operation first-hand.
“To take Munihire to the next stage of our journey, we felt that we had to be in our own purpose-built facility, which met all of our needs; enabling us to provide customers with the very best possible service,” commented Craig. “Our old premises at Smithers Farm in Rudgwick, West Sussex, had served us well and provided us with a sound grounding, but to drive the business forward we needed to make the change. “After 12 months of searching, we came across a site just a few miles outside Horsham and we did a deal with the owners whereby we had 12 months to secure planning on the site to suit our needs, as they were not sure this would be granted. “Munihire works very closely with Terry & Micky of T&M Bowser Solutions and between us we decided to develop the whole site together.
This helped to save on costs etc and Terry was able to pass on invaluable advice on building the premises as he had previously been involved in the construction of his own property. “Firstly, we employed the services of a planning consultant, and on her suggestion, met with the council to explain face-to-face what our intentions were from the outset and to ascertain if they would be able to help us achieve these. We were able to run through our business plan and explain how we would be creating employment and attracting business to the local area. We did come across a few stumbling blocks but these were worked through and planning consent was granted.
“Munihire was helped and supported throughout this process by a number of individuals and organisations that submitted letters of support, and for this we are very grateful to them all. “Ground was broken at Star Road in Horsham in October 2016, a few months later than had been hoped, and we moved in seven months later in May of this year. “The workshop, bodyshop and yard are all completely finished and fully operational. However, we will take our time to finish the offices as and when we have the time and funds to do so. We felt that the most important thing was to be up and running as soon as possible in the new premises. The office space is really the last piece of the jigsaw and we are on track to have this completed by the end of 2017.”
The new bodyshop is a fantastic addition to Munihire and takes this side of the business to the next level. Lawrance said: “For a number of years, we operated a bodyshop facility at Rudgwick, originally undertaking restoration work on anything from a Rolls-Royce [quite an achievement considering the spraybooth was a converted cow shed!] to campervans and insurance repairs. But as anyone in the trade will know, this type of work tends to be not very profitable; it was sufficient enough to keep the bodyshop ticking over but we took the decision to concentrate our efforts on supporting the preparation of our hire fleet and sales vehicles plus a few local customers refurbishing their plant equipment.
Lawrance continued: “We made the decision when planning the new site that the bodyshop should play a more significant role in the business and opted to install a state-of-the-art spraybooth from Spraybooth Technologies Ltd. The new booth allows us to be flexible in the types and size of vehicles that we undertake repairs on, so we can either use it as a 55ft long booth or close a centre shutter door and have two equal sized booths. Such is the efficiency of the new bodyshop, we now have additional capacity to undertake work not only for existing customers’ fleets but also other businesses in the local area.”
Krzysztof Jaworski joined Munihire in 2014 and runs both the bodyshop and workshop operations. He and his team carry out routine servicing and repairs on both chassis and sweepers from all of the leading manufacturers in the industry. The new four bay workshop, housed next to the bodyshop, has been designed ergonomically and fitted out with the best equipment available to make the technicians’ jobs as easy as possible and allow the safe and quick repair of vehicles. Such has been the attention to detail in the design of the workshop, and indeed the whole facility, that all lighting is on a sensor and comes on automatically when the building falls below a certain illumination. This saves energy when not required and makes sure everyone works within a safe and well-lit environment.
“Again, this is a side of the business we are looking to expand and open out more to businesses requiring fleet management and commercial vehicle maintenance and repair,” said Craig. “Next door at T&M Bowser, there is an MoT ATF test lane and Tacho calibration lane being installed which will allow us to MoT all our vehicles on site as well as open the door to others within the surrounding area. Currently there is a 12-month waiting list in the local vicinity for MoTs. So, between Munihire and T&M Bowser Solutions, we are able to sell, hire, mechanically maintain, repair, paint, MoT, wash, weld and fabricate vehicles all on one site; a combination not available anywhere else in the area.”
Lawrance commented: “We have increased our stock levels and house an extensive store of new parts including a used parts department for non-safety critical parts. Some might say we are thrifty but we like to be as environmentally friendly as possible when it comes to the supply and fitting of replacement parts. Having the skillsets within our workshop and bodyshop capabilities allows us to fabricate and refurbish used parts, which helps us to keep costs down for our customers and reduce our environmental impact.”
“We have increased our stock levels and house an extensive store of new parts including a used parts department for non-safety critical parts. Some might say we are thrifty but we like to be as environmentally friendly as possible when it comes to the supply and fitting of replacement parts.”
Mobile Service & Repairs
Both Craig and Lawrance have spent many years going out maintaining and repairing sweepers. No matter what vehicle they are driving, they will always have a tool kit and a pair of overalls with them so that if needs be they can be pressed into action to get a stricken vehicle back on the road at any time. Earlier this year, Munihire grew their mobile service fleet with two Mercedes-Benz Vito mobile service vans. Mark Dilloway, Operations Manager, said: “As all transport professionals know, having any vehicle off the road due to mechanical gremlins is both costly and frustrating, so being able to quickly resolve any problem on site without having to bring the vehicle back to base is highly advantageous.
“These vans will further enhance the service we offer to our customers on both the Operated and Non-Operated sweeping hire sides to the business. “We pride ourselves on providing the highest levels of customer service, equipment maintenance and operational support. We work with our customers to do exactly what they need so that they get the best possible value from a deal; tailored to suit their needs, their budget and their long term operational requirements. The key point is that it is built to suit them, bringing all of our added-value to their operation, for the short or long term. Our technicians have the skillset and equipment to deal with any isuues whether it is sweeping equipment or chassis related.”
“We take great pride on having returning customers who purchase vehicles blind having only seen the spec on our website as they know they are defi nitely getting what is advertised.”
Craig Durrant has an extensive background in sweeper sales having worked for a major manufacturer as regional sales manager for a number of years, Craig explained: “The most important element in sourcing a vehicle is that it is mechanically sound and fi t for purpose. We have built a reputation for sourcing and providing quality vehicles that match the needs and demands of our customers which are ready to go to work and always backed up in the future. “2012 was a breakthrough year for Used Sweepers, a trading arm of Munihire, as we hit the 50 sweeper per year sales mark, something that we have continued to do each year since.
Through our network of contacts, we are able to source quality sweepers when they come o contract or are decommissioned. Each vehicle is then given a thorough inspection and service with any mechanical or cosmetic defects rectifi ed inhouse to ensure each vehicle is up to the job. This is the same across our hire fl eet or sales machine. “Munihire has a number of customers in the building industry using our Non-Operated sweepers who have gone on to purchase these vehicles as they know it meets their demands and they are familiar with its operation. We will carry out the maintenance for them as well as provide driver familiarisation and ongoing support. “We take great pride on having returning customers who purchase vehicles blind having only seen the spec on our website as they know they are defi nitely getting what is advertised.”
By operating from their own new facility, Munihire are in control of their own destiny. Big is not always beautiful or profi table and both Craig and Lawrance are both very aware of this. The immediate future will see the office facilities completed followed by a period of consolidation. During this time Munihire will continue to do what they do best – provide customers with vehicles that match their needs.