plant hire, construction equipment hire, family business, north east business

How did Nixon Hire get started?

In the mid 1960s I was working as a rep for Electrical Tools Ltd who had a dealership for anything that was driven by a flexible drive. Flexible drives were very popular in the building industry as they powered poker vibrators.  When the drives broke down, Electrical Tools Ltd used to send them all the way to London for repair - this took the best part of a week to be repaired and returned. Meanwhile, as the repair was being undertaken, I’d have to arrange a hire replacement for the unit and I didn’t get a lot of support from my employer with this.

Spotting an opportunity to improve service to customers in the area, I discussed it with my wife and decided to set up my own company, I started Nixon Hire with £2,000. I would be the sales rep and employ a fitter to repair units in a small workshop in Back New Bridge Street, Newcastle.

I owe a tremendous amount to my first employee Dick Redmond. We had worked together at Electrical Tools Ltd and he joined me on day 1 in December 1967. I was a rep who knew a lot of people on site. Dick had great product knowledge and was such a tremendous asset in the early days when it was just the two of us.

There were no super salesmen - we just provided a good service. By giving a good service to our customers, we just grew and grew. Other product opportunities also quickly became available to us. Electric tools, drills, grinders etc and in 1970 Stihl saws came to market. Soon virtually every site either hired or purchased Stihl disc cutters and this was a very profitable market for us. Our involvement with rollers, generators, dumpers and mini excavators also followed.

To cope with the increase in demand and the larger product range, my brothers Alan and David joined me in the business. David joined us repairing the pokers (under Dick’s supervision) and Alan, who joined a year later, took over the office management. Alan had previously worked in insurance and was a great asset with claims.

I had 5 children who eventually joined the firm straight from school and as they grew older, took more and more part in running the business, especially when Alan and David retired in 1994.

Over the years we opened more and more Depots in the North of England and Scotland and now we have 14 sites employing over 460 people.

Today, after 50 years, although I work every day I take a slight backseat and leave the running of business to my son Graham as MD, with support from Alison and Beverley as HR Directors.

What do you like most about your job?

I still get a buzz out of a sale and watching the business prosper! I am just so very proud of the success of the Company and how it has grown.

What do you like least about your job? 

5pm Friday - 8am Monday. Yes that’s right, the weekends! It’s a waste of time as I think about work 7 days a week - it’s simply not work to me. Some people may think what a dull life, but I can assure them it was and still is exciting! I married the right girl who supported me all the way. We had 5 children who all worked in the business, 11 grandchildren and plenty of holidays. I would not have changed a thing, not many people can say that. I am in reasonable health for my age and looking forward to a few more years yet.

What has been the biggest industry change you have seen?

Prices. Discount was never mentioned in 1967. Now it’s the number one question.

What has been the biggest change at Nixon Hire?

Computers. They drive the business now but we mustn’t hide behind them. It’s still so important that we are still giving the best customer service we can.

What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry?

Be prepared to work hard and work many hours, especially in the early days. And have a good partner who supports you all the way.

What has been your highlight of the past 50 years?

Our success story. There’s too many individual highlights to mention here, but being awarded ‘Company of the Year’ in 2014, was very special to me. This award celebrated our collective hard work and dedication to making Nixon Hire a great company. I have been (and continue to be) very fortunate to work with some very loyal and knowledgeable staff and I am grateful for every individual’s effort made toward the Company operations. Together we are success.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

It has all been a tremendous adventure, fully supported by my family.

The history of Nixon Hire