Making Rands and sense from plant hire, with FAW trucks
Profitably surviving 12 years through tough economic and operating environments, running a plant equipment hire company, is no mean feat. It takes personal dedication, tight financial controls and solid business relationships.
This is the recipe for success that Fred and Lizette Els, owners of Gauteng-based CE Plant Hire, say have kept their plant and equipment hire company in the black, despite sadly having had clients default on contracts and ‘fellow’ hire companies go under.
Fred Els says that their loyal team of 69 drivers and their reliable fleet of 30 FAW tippers, water tankers, a crane truck and a staff bus, together with a large stock of ‘yellow-metal’ like TLBs, graders, front-end loaders, etc. have been the cornerstones of their company’s end-to-end plant hire business.
“Another contributor to staying viable is to be prepared to ‘share’ and not be greedy. Where needed we form a ‘consortium’ with fellow plant-hire companies on contracts where we do not have the total plant stock required by a particular project.”
CE Plant Hire provides vehicles and equipment to large construction companies – most of them ‘blue chip’, like Group 5 and Liviero. The majority of their clientele are assigned large-scale construction projects and prefer to work through one second-tier supplier. The company’s reputation for good service, with reliable vehicles and drivers, has earned them loyalty and respect in the industry.
“We’ve worked on many sites, building major roads and bridges in Gauteng, Northwest Province, Limpopo and the Free State. Our trustworthy FAW fleet has worked on some very tough, rugged and restrained construction sites such as those for the Madupi Power Station, Soccer City and OR Tambo Airport.
CE Plant Hire’s fleet comprises 22 6m3 and 10m3tippers including 20 FAW28.280 tippers and two FAW15.180 units. They also run six 18 000 kilolitre water tankers combined with the powerful FAW 28.330FT 6×4 truck tractors; one FAW 28.330FT crane truck and a FAW staff bus.
“We expect to take delivery of our order for another five FAW 28.280 tippers in the near future,” says Els.
Els and his management team are aiming towards expanding their reach into the Cape Province and are at present researching the requirements for a plant supply contract on the highway upgrade between George and Plettenberg Bay. “On our home ground we are keeping an eye on massive construction developments around Chloorkop in Gauteng.”
While plant hire contracts can range from weeks to months, most of the CE Plant Hire contracts are for periods of two or three years.
“We firmly believe that our decision to go for the FAW brand of trucks has given us the best return on investment,” says Els who personally visits every site at least twice a month. It is small wonder that his bakkie easily clocks up 100 000km per year. “Our FAW vehicles are tough and durable, handling difficult terrain with ease. On our platinum mine work some of our vehicles and water tankers have had to run 24-hour shifts. The Weichai engines and the manual transmissions are remarkable,” says Els.
Personally Els and his two mechanics maintain a tight reign on vehicle maintenance and with their mobile unit do regular service on the fleet on the various sites.
Lizette Els keeps a watchful eye on the management of the fleet, operating costs and the business contracts. Vehicles are closely monitored through Cartrack, for vehicle performance efficiencies and the company follows a strict routine of monitoring fuel consumption, doing regular inspection and preventative maintenance. “Prevention is better than cure,” say the Els team.
“The people at FAW have been superb in their back-up support and service. We are treated like every other customer. I believe we get the same attention as their (FAW’s) customers with massive 100-plus vehicles,” says Lizette.
“Our drivers are also some of the best – they are well-trained and very loyal. We treat them as part of the family. One even calls me on ‘Mother’s Day’,” laughs Lizette. “They are our most important asset and we regard them as our ambassadors. They are incentivised with a ‘vehicle-condition bonus’ and are ever mindful of their driving habits.”
Fred Els concludes: “CE Plant Hire will not easily be swayed from the FAW brand because time has proven we get the best total cost of ownership from the FAW vehicles – affordable purchase prices, low fuel consumption, a secure source of spares, great warranties and a dedicated team of people who are virtually at our ‘beck and call’ if needed.”