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David Barrass to re-enter crane hire?

David Barrass, former managing director of GWS and PTP is planning a return to the UK crane rental sector. Tim Whiteman asked about his plans

a> Do you plan to return to the crane and/or powered access hire industry?

I am certainly looking at it! I’m lucky in that my background enables me to look at a broad range of industries but I still have a lot of affection for the crane/powered access business and miss the camaraderie. In the short time that I’ve been looking around, most of the approaches that I’ve had have been from within the industry and if the right opportunity comes along, then I’ll be back.

b> What have you been doing since leaving the industry and what are you currently doing?

I was headhunted into the position of European CEO for Allied Worldwide Inc. who owns some of the best-known and respected brands on the Moving and Storage business (Pickfords, Pickfords Vanguard, Allied International and many more). The company has recently streamlined its senior management structure and it was the time for me to move on. I’m currently looking at a wide range of different opportunities from non-executive directorships to Management Buy-ins but I’ve not found the right one for me … yet.

c> Do you believe that the crane and/or powered access hire business is currently a good investment opportunity?

Returns on capital are still generally lower than other industries and I know some companies are struggling (some of them badly) but there are still opportunities to be had. I think that things are generally improving slowly but it will be some time before the industry could be described as a good investment opportunity.

d> If you could change one aspect of the crane/access hire business, what would it be?

If I could only have one, it would have to be “oversupply” – oversupply of machines into the industry from the manufacturers and oversupply from Hire Companies into the market. We continue to see consolidation in both the Manufacturers and the Hire Companies but it would be nice to see it happening faster. Unless capacity is taken out of the market, there will not be the movement in pricing which is needed to generate better returns.

e> Are you looking at specific business opportunities in the crane and/or powered access hire sector?

I have looked at some specific opportunities but none that were right for me. As I mentioned before, I will not be rushing into any sort of deal unless I’m sure of it. That doesn’t mean I’m averse to taking some risks – but I need to know what the risks are first and be sure that I can work around them. I’ve really only just started to look and haven’t even had time to contact everyone on my network yet. I’m looking forward to the Annual Crane Dinner where I hope to catch up with a lot of people