Chippindale Plant

UK equipment rental specialist Chippindale Plant is investing more than £2 million in a fleet of JCB machines as it takes advantage of the UK’s new building boom – and as it marks 65 years in business.

Chippindale Plant was founded in 1949 by the late Wilfred Chippindale, who set up a business from his home in Leeds with £100 of his savings, selling concrete and scaffolding. Today the business is still family owned, run by Wilfred’s grandsons Nigel and Peter Chippindale. The company is now one of the UK’s largest privately owned construction equipment hire and sales companies, employing 86 people and has other depots in Catterick, Huddersfield, Keighley, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

Having weathered the downturn, Chippindale is seeing growth in a number of industry sectors, and is now expanding its fleet to meet increasing demand from customers across the North and the Midlands.

The deal for the JCB machines includes the purchase of 50 Loadall telescopic handlers. They are being bought through Sheffield-based JCB dealer TC Harrison JCB and delivery will be completed later this year. The deal includes 535-140 Hi-Viz models, 7 and 10 metre machines and six 540-170 telescopics, with a 17m working height. Chippindale has also taken delivery of low headroom 524-50 models.

“We shed almost 40% of the telescopic fleet in the recession,” says joint Managing Director Nigel Chippindale. “Since we’ve started expanding the telehandler fleet again we’ve focused on JCB as that’s what our customers want, specifically it’s what the man driving it wants.”

Chippindale has grown steadily over the years and today runs 140 JCB Loadall telescopic handlers in a total plant fleet of more than 2,500 machines, stretching from a hand-held cut-off saw to a 14 tonne crawler excavator.

Nigel Chippindale added: “We rode out the recession with a combination of cut-backs, pay cuts and tough decisions, but we have come out stronger.

“Everyone took a pay cut but we managed to maintain and grow the business during the recession. We’ve had steady expansion and now operate from seven depots, from Newcastle to Sheffield. We have machines working from the Scottish Borders down to Derbyshire.

“The market is extremely busy at the moment, it’s the busiest that it’s been since before the recession. Mainly it is being led by house builders, but there is a general feel good factor in commercial building and civil engineering too. “

Chippindale offers the JCB telescopics with a host of attachments, from pallet forks to roof truss jibs, buckets and grabs to aerial work platform baskets.

“We can also customise the machines, with CCTV cameras and on-board weighing systems, to meet the needs of our customers,” adds Mr Chippindale.

TC Harrison JCB also provides parts and maintenance back-up, though Chippindale has its own team of skilled engineers to provide daily service and maintenance.

“We look after the JCBs in-house but we have sent our fitters on some bespoke training courses with TCH, mainly to deal with the new technology involved with Tier 4 engines. The beauty of the JCB telescopic handler though, is that there is no AdBlue or DPF for us, or our customers, to worry about.

“The service that we get from TCH JCB is as good as we would expect to provide for our customers. We also utilise the JCB LiveLink system. It’s a real bonus for us from a security point of view and invaluable regarding breakdowns and servicing. We can geofence machinery and could even shut it down when off hire. It’s not infallible, but it is the best system of its kind at the moment,” says Mr Chippindale.

Looking forwards he can see further growth in the coming months, as demand continues to outstrip supply and new machinery has become increasingly difficult to source. With all sectors of the construction industry showing strong recovery and expansion, demand for new self-drive plant will continue to rise.

“We have looked at the new 20m JCB machines and we are considering them, though we haven’t been asked for one by customers yet,” says Mr Chippindale. “We’ve also looked at rotating machines, but have dismissed them as too complex for the self-drive market.

“We’d like to get back up above 200 telescopic machines again and at the moment JCB is our preferred supplier. The back-up from TC Harrison is good, residual values are good and customer acceptance is high. If you give someone a JCB they are happy with it, everyone who drives one, likes it.”