A well-established plant hire company, Banner Plant Ltd provides a diverse range of products and services for hire and sale. Headquartered in Dronfield, near Sheffield, the company operates a network of hire centres strategically located in Dronfield, Chesterfield, Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Rotherham, and Ossett. This expansive coverage ensures convenient accessibility to a diverse inventory of plant equipment and machinery, including excavators, telehandlers, dumpers, and rollers, catering to the needs of construction, infrastructure, and landscaping projects. Moreover, Banner Plant continually invests in the modernisation of its hire fleet, transportation capabilities, and service facilities. This comprehensive approach encompasses an extensive range of hire items, including powered access equipment, big air solutions, power tools, temporary accommodation, and serviced toilets. Jonathan Fisher, Managing Director, sheds some light on the company’s rich history.
“Banner Plant is a member of the Henry Boot Group, which has a rich heritage spanning over 135 years. The Henry Boot Group is well-known and established within the Northeast of England, particularly in the regions of Sheffield, Yorkshire, and Humberside, where it has solidified its presence and reputation. Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Banner Plant’s roots extend even further, with its original trading activities beginning approximately 68 years ago. In its early days, Banner Plant emerged as a concept during an era when plant hire businesses mainly served construction companies. The company was established to cater predominantly to the needs of Henry Boot Group’s sister companies, which were mostly dedicated to railways, construction, and housing. Over time, as demands evolved and the requirement for plant equipment grew, Banner Plant expanded its customer base beyond the group. We still operate within the housing and construction sectors, which contribute approximately eight-to-ten per cent of our business, but the majority of our operations now revolve around serving external customers,” he begins.
As part of its commitment to customer satisfaction, Banner Plant strives to incorporate sustainability into its operations to reduce its customers’ footprint. “Plant hire has always been a somewhat traditional business, much like the construction industry. As such, the evolution towards sustainability, such as achieving net zero carbon and embracing eco-friendly products, has taken the construction and plant hire sectors a bit longer compared to industries like automotive. However, we have worked diligently over the past five-to-ten years to align our business with these changing trends, driven primarily by our customers. We appreciate that we are a regional plant business serving the Tier 2 and SME markets, so we don’t pretend to be a national player or compete with larger organisations like Speed Ease (Speedy) or Sun Belts (Sunbelt). These businesses have been at the forefront of the electric revolution for a while and have played a pivotal role in advancing sustainability and meeting ESG criteria. The reality is that SMEs and Tier 2 companies often follow the lead of Tier 1 organisations in embracing sustainable practices. So, while we may have joined the movement relatively later than those big companies, we are now following suit and bringing our customers on this journey alongside us. As a result, we have made significant strides in the past two years in terms of fuel usage.
“Our focus currently lies in exploring hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuels, and our procurement processes prioritise eco products. We have made substantial changes to our offerings, with approximately 60 per cent of our product lines falling within the eco range, making them the most efficient and energy-conscious options available in the market. Our aim is to reach the 80 per cent mark of fully eco-friendly equipment within the next five years. While our approach may take slightly longer than we would like, we must remain mindful of our customers. Many of them are also embarking on their sustainability journey, so it is crucial for us not to be solely focused on acquiring the latest, most efficient, and net-zero carbon equipment. The reality is that this equipment needs to be accessible and available in the market. Therefore, we strive to lead the market in our sector while maintaining a balance that considers the needs and readiness of our customers,” adds Jonathan.
With digitalisation making its mark on the construction industry, Jonathan reveals Banner Plant’s approach to adopting and leveraging new technologies. “While our strategy has always been important to us, it has become even more prominent in the last two-to-three years. Our strategy encompasses clear pillars, all focused on modernisation. These pillars include digital transformation, workforce development, expansion into non-construction markets, ESG integration, and business processes improvement. Regarding technology, our approach encompasses all pillars of our strategy. We are actively looking at the customer journey beyond the realm of construction. This involves implementing a client relationship management system to gather and analyse customer data, allowing us to streamline interactions, save time, energy, and improve overall efficiency. We’ve also introduced a net promoter score (NPS) as a benchmark to understand how our customers feel about us. Our current NPS score, averaging around 75, signifies world-class service, of which we are immensely proud. Technology has played a significant role in achieving this score.
“From an operational standpoint, we utilise technology such as machine trackers to monitor usage and gather real-time data. This information enables us to ensure machines are being used correctly on-site, identify idle equipment, and provide valuable feedback to our customers. The sharing of that live information instils transparency and trust, which are paramount in our relationships with customers. Rather than focusing solely on maximising equipment rentals, we strive to work collaboratively with our customers and supply chain, which has proven beneficial so far. Furthermore, we have leveraged internal technologies to enhance communication and engagement among our team members. While we are not a large organisation, with only 150 staff members, we recognise the importance of effective internal communication. We have implemented technologies to facilitate messaging, improve health and safety communications, and create a better overall employee experience. These efforts have resulted in increased efficiency and productivity throughout our operations,” he states.
Jonathan has a vision for expanding these technological advancements into the rest of the year. “We’re focusing on refining our internal operations and ethos, by actively modernising our operations, contributing more to the community, and taking significant steps to protect the environment. We are looking at pursuing digitalisation in terms of functional systems like finance, which also enhance the overall customer journey. Additionally, we are also trying to improve our ESG by re-evaluating our carbon footprint and fuel usage, especially considering the recent impacts on the market caused by the war in Ukraine. Our overarching goal as we move forward is to significantly reduce our fuel usage and do more work in the community. We have already exceeded our target of 65 days of community engagement in celebration of our 65th anniversary this year. Likewise, we are committed to enhancing the customer journey and improving the overall experience for our employees,” he ends.
By embracing sustainability, community engagement and digitalisation, Banner Plant is sure to make significant strides across several industries as it moves forward.