Mark Carrington previous owner of UK based King Vehicle Engineering group, which includes Palfinger Platforms distributor SkyKing has formally retired. The official date was last week, some two and a half years after he sold the business to H W Martin. See King acquired
Over the past few months he has working one day a week in a limited role as a non executive director, as he moved towards full blown retirement. Now 67 Carrington, is not quite ready to get out his pipe and slippers and has already embarked on a new project within the truck bodybuilding industry, as a consultant with Kurt Hobbs Coachworks. But is also looking for other opportunities.
He began his management career with York Trailers in 1973, starting off in a sales role and then in 1986 became managing director of the group's services and parts operations. It was here that he picked up a taste for MBOs and holding a stake in the companies he worked for.
In 1990 he was recruited by Motec Industries/Hendrickson Suspension to deal with a major loss of its primary supplier contract, which represented 60 percent of the company’s sales! He gradually managed to replace the lost revenues, and within three years the business was larger than it had been when he began and a good deal more profitable.
In 1993 he joined King Trailer as sales director at a time when the company had started working on a Management Buy Out. He became part of the MBO team, along with three other directors who, with 3i backing, bought the business in 1994. In 2005 he acquired the equity that he did not already own, in a secondary buyout when 3i exited the business and the other shareholders moved on. See King announces ownership changes
King was established in 1962 by Canadian engineer Vern King to manufacture heavy haulage trailers, and became the largest manufacturer of low loaders in the UK, with a significant export sales business. By the earlier 90’s and the Vern King had died and the UK truck manufacturing business - which had helped King’s export drive - had all but vanished, and revenues at the business slipped to £4 million and losses mounted.
Carrington and his colleagues saw an opportunity to leverage King’s strong brand and engineering skills to develop a multi product specialist truck engineering business focused on the UK market. Within two years King had formed a partnership with Italian aerial lift manufacturer GSR to launch Skyking, initially mounting GSR platforms on vans and chassis built or purchased in the UK. It later added other distributorships, including Palfinger Platforms, Easy lift and more recently Ascendant.
By 2000 the business had revenues of more than £12 million, when it won its largest ever order - a £20 million contract to build the UK Army’s new tank transporter fleet, pushing sales through the £35 million barrier.
During the build up of this contract Carrington focused on developing a new business in the traffic management sector, to replace the army revenues when the contract was completed. In 2002 the company acquired - or rescued - Traiload from insolvency and King Highway Products was formed to handle the new business, eventually becoming the largest supplier of crash cushion vehicles in the UK through a partnership with US based Trinity industries. See King of the Road
A new rental business was also formed -Safety Vehicle Hire and Lease - building a fleet of around 80 specialist trucks.
In 2016 when Carrington sold the company he was in the process of developing a business in the rail sector, and revenues were in the region of £25 million.
Carrington attributes the success of King to its focus on niche and blue chip markets with sales to Airbus, the UK Ministry of Defence and the Nuclear power industry. But he also acknowledges a few failures. “An old boss once told me that seven out of 10 is better than three out of three! It you don’t take risks then you won’t succeed. My venture into the stone crushing Industry is best forgotten having cost around £500,000” he said.
Mark Carrington is a quiet but determined character within the access industry, and it is true to say that his approach has not always played out quite as he might have hoped. He has also not always been the easiest to deal with, according to some, but he has done exceptionally well over the long term, built a strong and respected business, and helped save King more than once from financial or market crisis.
Overall he is a very affable individual with a good sense of humour and a keen very observant eye. His presence at trade shows and other events will be greatly missed.. But then again I am not entirely sure that we have seen the end of his story yet?
In the meantime all of us here at the Vertikal Press wish him the very best for a long, healthy and productive retirement.