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Hewden announces new regional structure

Hewden, one of the UK’s largest rental companies, and the only one to offer cranes, access, telehandlers and earthmoving equipment. has announced a new regional structure for its plant and equipment rental business, aimed at being more responsive to its customer base.

The new structure will include merging the crane and access operations more closely into the general equipment business.

New regional operations teams have been charged with providing the safest, most customer focussed service in the rental industry through highly trained and driven teams placing Hewden depots at the heart of the business.

The new structure, will see Hewden’s depot network organised into three regions each headed by a regional general manager. It is hoped that this structure which will include single customer contact points will channel all of Hewden’s product offerings, including cranes and powered access through single points of contact in local depot.

The new regional structure will be led by Kevin Parkes, previously Finning general manager for used equipment, now general manager, operations for Hewden.

The three regions will be headed by:
Andrew Swallow – Scotland and the North
Mark Hogg – Central region
Simon Clothier – South region

In their new roles, each regional manager will focus on the development and growth of the regional business and consistently delivering the highest standards of service in the rental industry.

To support the new three region structure, new regional operations managers will report to the regional general manager’s and will have responsibility for managing the day to day operational performance of the region.

Parkes said: “It’s important for our customers to deal with a responsive and committed business partner who has a simple operational structure, coupled with the ability to provide a complete rental solution when and wherever our customers need it. The re-organisation, which moves us from five regions and five stand alone product specific divisions to three regions responsible for all product, is aimed at providing faster decisions, for our customers. Our customers demand greater visibility and accessibility of our leadership team and these changes will make us ever easier to do business with.”

The sales structure within the region will see area sales managers reporting to depot managers to meet local business requirements. Each region will have one regional sales manager responsible for the regional sales strategy, coaching and development for area sales managers while ensuring regional compliance with sales processes and systems.

Hewden has also announced that Susan Shardlow, Hewden head of commercial will take on responsibility for product management. She will be building a team with specialist knowledge for each major product range and will be responsible for all aspects of the complete product life cycle of all Hewden assets.

Hewden is also appointing a new head of service, responsible for technical service, the development of Hewden engineers and the practice of engineering, the workshops, compliance with contamination controls and for driving key improvements in service standards within Hewden, will be made by the end of the month.

The regional re-structure has also been combined with a review of depots in each of the three regions, which will involve some consolidation and ultimately closure of some locations by the end of the first quarter 2009.

“Reviewing the performance of our depots is part of business as usual for us and is what you would expect from any well organised business. Our focus rests upon ensuring that we are situated where our customers are and that we provide the breadth of products that they require, in the timescales that they need” added Parkes.
Vertikal Comment

Hewden is almost unique as a rental company in trying to combine cranes with general equipment, ranging from excavators to rollers as well as powered access. This is a tall order that few rental companies even attempt.

The challenge has always been to try and ensure that contractors renting excavators and telehandlers from the company, also give them their cranes and aerial lift business. In theory this is possible, there is no reason why a sales rep or hire desk team cannot equally promote every product.

In reality the task is too hard, and bitter experience of many shows that it is easier to succeed with specialist divisions that focus on the specialist businesses with the aim to be profitable on a stand alone basis, while making it easy for large customers to single source in terms of invoicing and where it works a single contact point.

Hewden has recently been working along these lines by merging the back room operations and installing a new single IT system. The benefits of this effort have not yet begun to flow through and here we are restructuring again. This will make it impossible to see if the previous restructuring would have worked.

While the new structure may well be the way to go, it will inevitably disrupt customer contacts, and unsettle employees at one of the worst possible times in terms of the market.

Organising a successful national rental business which includes specialist equipment is hard and Hewden is not the first to have struggled with the challenge of trying to strip out duplication of locations and roles. The problem is that in order to compete with good local companies the depot manager needs to have some entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom to manage the location as a profit centre.

A tiered regional structure tends to become overly bureaucratic no matter how hard you try and stop it happening, stifling that spirit and leaving responsibilities spread over a number of different managers. This means that there is no one local person with overall responsibility. Kevin Parkes will need to pull out every stop to generate some passion for this new set up and quickly win over the Hewden depot managers and staff, if he is to succeed before Finning decides that it is time to try a different strategy.