With in excess of 30 years of operation under its belt, Quattro Group has amassed a wealth of experience that has not only served it well over the past three decades, but has also been particularly useful in helping tackle more recent challenges, such as the pandemic and the materials shortage. Construction Industry News caught up with John Murphy, Managing Director, to see how the plant specialist has continued to thrive in the face of the various hurdles that have been placed in its way and to discover what the company’s plans are for 2022.
In addition to the knowledge and expertise it has accumulated, another of Quattro’s key strengths has been a forward-thinking approach that has seen it constantly adapt to the evolving needs and requirements of the marketplace. As part of this strategy, the company has been open to purchasing businesses that would add something extra to its operation, particularly as acquisitions tend to provide more opportunity for growth in the current climate in comparison to organic development. This was certainly the case in May 2018 when it acquired one of Scotland’s largest plant hire companies, AB2K Ltd (formerly AB2000).
“We run AB2K as a standalone business and have worked to continue its development within the rail market north of the border,” explains Mr Murphy. “Since acquiring the company we have spent in the region of £9m on new equipment, which has given it a completely new transport fleet, as well as a new range of excavators, crushing plant and mobile cranes.
“In terms of the Quattro fleet, meanwhile, we are adding to it is as quickly as the manufacturers can build us a new machine, which is currently about every two months. This allows us to keep providing a reliable nationwide solution for the plant needs of the rail, construction and transport sectors.”
As befits a company that is so well established, Quattro has built lasting relationships with many of its manufacturers and suppliers. Its rail machines are supplied by of G.O.S. Tool and Engineering Services in South Wales, which specialise in the manufacture, conversion and supply of road rail equipment. The company also has excellent links with the likes of Liebherr, Komatsu, Hiab, Doosan and JCB, all of which provide invaluable support when sourcing cranes, excavators and other types of plant.
These close working relationships have helped to a degree with the materials shortages that have blighted so many sectors recently. “Our suppliers are very open with us and there’s a tremendous amount of trust on both sides,” outlines Mr Murphy. “Ultimately, however, we’re all in the same boat and the issues are affecting everyone, particularly with the rising costs associated with bringing containers into the country and the shortage of semi-conductor chips.
“Due to the lack of supply of parts we’ve had to work around the situation. For example, we were planning to add some new vans to our fleet but these have since been delayed to such an extent that we’ve had to hire extra vehicles instead. It’s been a real headache.”
With regards to the maintenance of its plant, Quattro looks after everything in-house, which is also the case for transport and training. “It’s just the way we have always operated,” says Mr Murphy. “It works extremely well because it gives us a high degree of control over all the the various elements, rather than having to rely on third parties.
“At the end of the day, it’s our people that have been the key factor in our success over the past three decades, as they’re the ones that are out working at two or three in the morning and at weekends. For our part, we have to ensure they have the latest equipment and the necessary training to carry out their roles to the best of their abilities.”
Another example of Quattro’s forward-thinking vision is evident in its sustainability ethos, as it strives to improve the efficiency and eco-friendliness of its operation.
“We are members of the Supply Chain Sustainability School and are actively engaged in developing the ‘sustainable future’. This is an ongoing process that is backed up by training and investment. Everyone within the business participates so we ensure that each member of staff is involved from the top down.
“The most important factor with sustainability is getting people’s attitudes to change, as opposed to just doing something for the sake of it. Obviously it’s an increasingly important topic and it is something we have been involved with for several years now. We are exploring alternative fuels and will be doing everything we can to minimise our carbon footprint.
“We are also looking at developing electric powered vehicles so we are involved in what is known as KTP a (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) initiative with the University of Exeter looking at developing the hybridisation of drive train mechanisms for rail engineering plant. The research that the university has conducted has really help provide us with the necessary knowledge to push the process forward.”
The success of the joint venture with the University of Exeter was recently underlined when Innovate UK awarded it ‘Outstanding’. Such high levels of innovation are set to continue paving the way for the continued development of both Quattro and AB2K as new opportunities come their way in the months ahead.
“Rail is going to get busy over the next few years with the implementation of the remainder of Network Rail’s CP6 delivery plan, which runs until 2024,” highlights Mr Murphy. “This will represent the bulk of our income in this period. The key will be to have the right equipment to allow us to carry out the work, so we have a major upgrade programme in place. There’s a wealth of opportunity but there’s also plenty of challenges too.
“Looking to the rest of 2022, we’re aiming for more of the same. It is going to be all about staying competitive in a tight market with price increases set across the board. We cover the UK in its entirety, literally from Inverness down to Cornwall and across to the Channel Tunnel, so we are in a good position to move to where the work is, particularly as we have over 800 staff across 14 depots dotted across the country. We can therefore follow workstreams and target the larger jobs. We have a modern fleet and we’ve got a strong emphasis on staff development. For example, we’re in the process of introducing a new training school that will probably make us one of the first plant companies able to provide rail and construction plant training in Scotland.”
There will undoubtedly continue to be some significant challenges to contend with in the future, as there always is within business. However, due to its emphasis on continual progression in all areas of its operation, from plant and the environment through to staff training and customer service, the Quattro Group remains well placed to tackle whatever comes its way.
Written by: admin