30 Years On, The Customer Still Remains ‘King’
15 November 2005
30 Years On, The Customer Still Remains ‘King’ At Hirepool For Two Long Serving Staff
After 30 years in the rental equipment industry, Hirepool’s two longest serving managers claim the key to success remains the same today as it was when they started back in 1975.
National Operations Manager, Kevin Walker, and Business Relationship Manager Russell Keach say that ensuring customer satisfaction has always been and still remains the fundamental driver to Hirepool’s continued success.
At the time the pair started Hirepool comprised 6 branches—all in Auckland—compared with the 53 sites it now has throughout the country. Russell has spent time as manager at five of them—City, New Lynn, Manurewa, Penrose and North Shore, for 12 years, while Kevin has had senior positions at New Lynn, Penrose, Manurewa and Hamilton.
Managing Director Tenby Powell says that Hirepool is one of a diminishing group of New Zealand companies where long service is seen as a strength. “Both Kevin and Russell bring a wealth of experience to Hirepool which you can never replace and their contribution, along with that of our other long serving staff, is greatly valued.”
According to both men there have been a lot of changes brought about by technology and changes in equipment. “But at the end of the day it is about giving the customer the best advice, the best equipment and the best service possible,” says Russell “ And we have always found that if you do the right thing by your customers, and gain their loyalty, you will never regret it.”
Russell, (56) started as a driver in the long defunct home and leisure division. “ I came to help a friend 30 years ago and I’m still here. I forgot to go home,” he jokes.
“ I was running a welding business and my neighbour in Titirangi, who was manager of the Penrose branch, said they needed someone with a few mechanical skills.” Within three months Russell had been promoted—and he hasn’t looked back.
He rates his big achievement as getting the business to invest in a professional user-friendly image back in the early 1990s when hire equipment yards still looked like uninviting work sites.” Particularly for the DIY customers you had to make the environment as welcoming as possible. We were the first to invest in clean, warm reception areas and it is only now that other rental companies are doing the same,” he says.
Kevin, who left banking at 18-to start as a service person at the original Penrose site, went on to manage a number of branches before joining the National Support Office 10 years ago.
Like Russell he agrees that where Hirepool has maintained its competitive advantage, particularly in the last few years, has been its focus on ensuring customer satisfaction. “ And a number of Hirepool customers when I started like Fletchers and Vuksich & Borich, to name a few, are still with us today” he says.
What appealed to Kevin then about Hirepool was the “diversity of the customers you came into contact with every day—from the large contractor to the DIY weekend ‘warrior’. Being able to provide them with equipment solutions remains as key to the business now as it ever was.”
Mr Powell says that as Hirepool has grown and expanded into a national business “we have looked to actively recruit more mature staff who bring a similar customer service ethic to their work as Kevin and Russell clearly demonstrate every day as Hirepool senior managers.”
How long before the pair put their rental caps away for the last time, neither is sure. Both believe they still have a contribution to make. However on one thing they are agreed.
“ While we’ve enjoyed every minute, we won’t stay around for another 30 years,” says Russell.