We received the sad news yesterday that UK powered access veteran Alan Russon has died. He passed away at home on Wednesday morning at the age of 67.
He leaves behind his wife Caroline and two children by previous marriages - daughter Vickie and son Christopher, along with four grandchildren.
Alan Russon began his access career in the late 1970’s with a company called Walter Sommers, in Halesowen, which was a Genie dealer at the time. Sometime in the mid-1980s he came across Skyjack which was making a big impact on the slab electric scissor lift market and was looking to enter the UK market. He set up the original Russon Access and started selling them. The tough financial and market downturn of 1990 caused aerial lift sales to plummet, and in particularly RT scissors which were no longer wanted. This put paid to the business, but he moved on and after a brief spell with JLG joined Jim Daintith of Access Platform Sales who took over the Skyjack distribution in the UK.
When the market began to bounce back in the mid 1990s he set up a new company in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands, in partnership with the late Ian Gamble of Gamble Jarvis Plant, and was appointed as the exclusive distributor of Skyjack products in the UK. He caught the market perfectly at the start of a period of strong growth and did particularly well with the big Skyjack Rough Terrain scissor lifts with dual deck extensions, as a new wave of industrial building construction got underway. As the company went into the new millennium Skyjack decided to set up its own UK operation in Oswestry, Shropshire.
Never one to be down for long, Alan Russon soon bounced back, taking on the Liftlux heavy duty big scissor lift range, and achieved what many had thought was impossible, selling the high priced heavy scissor lifts to companies in the highly competitive UK rental market, which had always looked at these machines as being grossly overpriced for their height. Russon was however, very successful in finding applications and interested contractors and then persuading rental companies to add them to their fleets. Then out of the blue in 2004 Liftlux, by now part of Manitowoc’s Grove / Manlift division was closed down as the crane company sold its access assets to JLG. Suddenly Russon had no product line and a good number of customer orders which were clearly not going to be fulfilled by Liftlux.
He quickly signed up Holland Lift, becoming its UK distributor, and did well with the new line.
Having been hurt by the Liftlux decision, he looked to diversify his offerings away from a single product line, agreeing distribution deals with Matilsa and then Manitou becoming its UK rental company dealer. He did very well with its boom lifts. In 2008 he was appointed as the UK dealer for Iteco scissor lifts, which did not go as well. As the sales of Holland Lift platforms increased and more working capital was required, he persuaded the manufacturer to take a 40 percent stake in the business.
In 2008 the financial crisis arrived, and Manitou ended its contract. Russon began to dabble in the low level access market with a drill operated Power Scissor, and in 2012 Holland Lift, pulled out and appointed AJ Access as its new distributor, effectively closing Russon Access Platform Sales.
Never one to be held down for long Alan Russon was soon back in business, working with German heavy duty scissor lift manufacturer PB in a deal where he sold its machines for a commission and handled the installation, service and product support as a dealer. He also stepped up his low level platform sales and introduced his own range of spring assisted manually extended steps and platforms - the Skywinder and the Quickstep. He also began working with American scissor lift sales company GMG. The new business had some success, but as time passed and the market became more competitive, he decided call it a day and focus on his love of football with his lifelong team of Wolverhampton Wanderers, his family and renting out a number of villas he owned in the Canary Islands.
Alan Russon was a larger than life character who never failed to generate an opinion from whomever he met or had dealings with. Whether they loved him or hated him, they almost certainly noticed him, he always made an impression. He was a real character and a proud man of the Black Country, retaining his roots and strong regional accent and turns of phrase which he sometimes used to great effect.
He was an out and out salesman, who traded on his strong personality and the wealth of relationships he developed over his career. He was driven to ruthlessly maximise an opportunity and set up Russon Access Platforms on nothing more than a handshake with Wolf Haessler the president and founder of Skyjack, without the necessity of a formal partnership agreement.
In 2007 he married Caroline, at a wedding in the Caribbean with several people from the industry attending, followed by a reception back in the UK for those that could not make it.
He will be missed and fondly remembered by a great many people in the industry, both in the UK and overseas.
As one who knew him well said: "Alan had a keen eye for a deal and enjoyed a beer and a laugh and his sudden and untimely passing will be mourned by many in the industry."
The industry truly has lost one of its characters this week.
Alan Russon’s funeral details are as follows: October 23rd at 12:20
Stourbridge DY8 3RQ
Followed by a reception at the Foley Arms
309 Hagley Rd,
Stourbridge DY9 0RQ
Note: Alan Russon was extremely active in the industry for almost 40 years, riding the economic cycles to great effect, if we have missed anything or made errors, please do let us know at [email protected]