Steve Rooney meets the team behind well-respected industry supplier Recovery World.
The ability to respond to changing circumstances and the flexibility to react quickly is something that is vital for success in the recovery sector. The team at Recovery World have been adept at doing this for more than a decade. Today the business remains committed to the same principles that it was set up with of delivering value and customer service, but it has continually evolved both its ways of working and its product line-up.
Mac Engledew and Neil Lynch
From its early days of providing a vehicle broking service, the company moved successfully into the production of its own new vehicle range.
“Broking was the major part of the business when we started in 2001,” says Recovery World’s Lynn Engledew. “It was Mac’s original idea using all his knowledge and contacts in the industry, and no-one else was really brokering at the time.”
But whilst the broking model proved to be a success in the early days for Recovery World, it now represents less than 10 per cent of its business, with the focus shifting to the supply of new vehicles.
“Since launching our first new vehicles eight years ago, the idea has gone from strength to strength,” says Mac Engledew. “New vehicles now account for 75 per cent of our business.” Fellow director Neil Lynch explains that their role is to “drive the requirements” – to make sure the vehicles are built to meet the precise needs of the recovery operator.
The new vehicle line-up ranges from 3.5tonne Beavertails to Super Low Sliders, twin-decks and Accident Units, as well as RDT vans. Although recovery remains the core business, the company has branched out into other related markets including dealer transport and bodyshops. Specialist bespoke vehicles are also available, designed to customer’s requirements.
Mac reports that there has been a clear trend in the industry towards lighter trucks, with operators preferring the fuel economy and lower capital and running costs of a 3.5tonne vehicle. Obviously there are limits to what a 3.5tonne truck can carry, but it is an increasingly important part of the fleet mix, according to Mac, since the rates that operators can achieve are always a challenge. He has also seen a shift from 12tonne to 7.5tonne trucks for the same reasons. “ RWF40 has been a welcomed addition to the range, with its excellent payload of up to 4tonne built on the Isuzu N75,” says Mac. The humble Beavertail is also now more popular than ever. It is a lighter structure without the rams and sub frame and will therefore deliver an increase in the all-important payload, as well as being cheaper to purchase and maintain than a slidebed.
It’s also very versatile, being capable of carrying loaded 3.5tonne vans and will even take the majority of the top end, high performance cars. “The challenge is always to build lighter vehicles to improve payload and reduce fuel costs,” says Mac, but he points out that there are of course limits to how far you can go without compromising the strength and the ability of the vehicle to do what it is designed for. “The Low Slider has also done really well in the two and a half years since it was introduced,” he adds.
Many parts of the commercial vehicle sector have suffered significantly from the problems of operators getting access to finance for new purchases. Banks and other lenders have introduced tougher criteria which has meant that what might be regarded as sound businesses by most of us still struggle to get the credit they need. However, Mac says that there are signs that this is now slowly improving, although operators need to allow more time to put a finance deal in place than they would have in the past.
Recovery World’s new vehicles are built on a range of chassis with Peugeot, Citroen and Renault for 3.5tonne trucks and Isuzu and Mitsubishi favoured at 7.5tonne. There is always a stock of new vehicles ready for immediate sale and Mac adds that customers are welcome to make an appointment and see the product range in build.
The company works closely with its chassis partners when designing new bodies and also has a close relationship with the manufacturer’s service and aftermarket specialists to ensure that customers get prompt backup if there is a problem. “We see it as part of the service we provide to get involved if a customer’s vehicle is off the road,” says Lynn. “We don’t just tell them to ring the chassis supplier and forget it; we stay involved because we want to know that the vehicle is back in business. It really matters to us.”
The company is now busy finalising preparations for the introduction of the new Whole Vehicle Type Approval system. The Recovery World build process has recently received Conformity of Production (COP) which goes towards Type Approval. The first vehicles in its range that come into scope are 3.5tonne trucks from April this year with the larger ones to follow from 2014. “We have got approvals ready for body types on each chassis,” says Mac, “and we can go for single vehicle type approval for special builds.”
He supports the aims of the Type Approval system and hopes that it will help to clamp down on very low cost competition, the ubiquitous ‘man in a shed’, who is turning out cheap conversions.
And also on the horizon is the introduction of Euro 6 vehicles next year, and Mac is expecting full details shortly of the new chassis specifications.
Recovery World always has a good stock of second hand vehicles from those it takes in part exchange, and also provides refurbished trucks with new recovery equipment on second hand chassis. Its website carries details of all the latest stock, and in a recent move to support the industry in hard times, the company is now offering free vehicle advertising to recovery operators wanting to sell their own vehicles.
Operators can also take advantage of Recovery World’s free online auction system to sell recovery-related equipment; anything from a vehicle to a work bench. Demo vehicles are available for operators to trial, and there is a hire service for short term rentals which might be used to cover for a damaged vehicle off the road, or to supplement a fleet in busy periods.
The company has been running an online store for accessories since 2008 and this is about to have a facelift with a new look and additional stock items. Amongst the products available on the store are lock-out equipment and collision wraps and a range of products brought in from around the world. “We do constant price comparisons with other sellers and will always try to match the best prices,” says Lynn.
The website also hosts the industry forum which is well-respected and widely used across the industry for technical advice queries and news alerts.
This is definitely not a business which rests on its laurels and for the future you can expect continued focus on customer service from Recovery World, combined with product innovations that are driven by the needs of today’s recovery businesses.
Reproduced with permission of Recovery Operator Magazine – 01952 204920