DEFINITION April 2022 - Newsletter


companies, as with ours, furlough was heavily relied upon – and without it, we would be in a very different position now. As a small, independent company, we had no large pockets to lean on. The landscape has completely changed and we are, of course, being more cautious with investments, while ensuring we have the right stock for the right projects. We had positioned ourselves to have a wide client base, and I cannot praise our entire team enough for digging deep through the last few years to support the business. BEARD : I wouldn’t like to offer advice, sage or otherwise. Each situation will have its own contributing factors to consider. Given the circumstances, the support available from the government through CBILS and furlough is to be applauded; less so the attitude of the banks. Many of them seemed to wince at the thought of offering any loan, but were also happy to exploit the desperate situation some found themselves in, through higher interest rates and unrealistic guarantees. Sadly, I don’t think the industry is out of the woods yet, and for some, those loans have only delayed the inevitable and will eventually take their toll.

MATT MARNER: The pandemic seriously affected our business – both financially and mentally. However, it did give us time, and we used that to completely restructure our business. For decades, most of our work has been with rental houses, but from time to time we still rented equipment to production companies and DOPs. We made the decision to go ‘B2B’ – and only rent our equipment to other rental houses around the globe. One of the greatest lessons we have learnt is to keep things simple, and we have no intention of changing that belief any time soon! Sadly, quite a lot of equipment rental manufacturers went bust during 2019-2021. Do you think it an issue with lack of support/funding? Has anything changed? LOLLIOT: While we focused on the positive and made the best of the downtime in 2020 – and indeed some of 2021 – it would be naive to think it was not an incredibly difficult period. Our industry, like many others, requires consistent work and a steady cash flow. Anyone making investments at the start of 2020 would have struggled to recoup any return on them. I am sure for many

MATT BEARD : Business was challenging, but we managed to stay open throughout the whole pandemic. We supported our loyal customers who, in many ways, relied on us more than ever to cope with ever-changing requirements. When things were especially quiet, we took the opportunity to refresh and refine our website by adding more content, detail and functionality. We also systematically worked through our entire stock portfolio, renewing and replacing older lines, while building new categories and ranges – in the knowledge we would need to be ready for pent-up demand when things got back to normal. As the restrictions have eased and productions restarted, our resilience is paying dividends, as we’ve seen a big influx of new customers, as well as maintain our existing customer base. DANA HARRISON: Initially, we had to turn all our focus to an unknown situation and how we were going to return to work safely. Although we changed how our staff were physically interacting with each other on site, long term I don’t think it has drastically changed the landscape of the rental business, now that the restrictions have been lifted. What the pandemic did do was push us towards mostly electronic processes in daily operations. With people working from home, we had to adapt quickly and become paperless. One of the biggest changes that we’ve seen – because the pandemic was dramatic in so many ways – is that we’ve tried to teach ourselves the importance of work-life balance, which is especially difficult in this business. We have not gone back to our pre-pandemic 6am to 10pm working day; we’re going to continue to close at 8pm. The pandemic pushed us into reducing our operating hours after lockdown, mainly for safety reasons, but we quickly realised that we could still offer the same level of service, while giving our staff the benefit of more sociable hours. We’ve stuck with reduced prep shifts because our staff deserve to go home. We don’t do Saturday shifts any more.

“As a small, independent company, we had no large pockets to lean on. The landscape has completely changed and we are being more cautious”

61. APRIL 2022

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