Coates Hire CEO welcomes rental award

By Murray Pollok08 May 2012

Coates Hire is 46.1% owned by National Hire. Private equity firm Carlyle is the other major sharehol

Coates Hire is 46.1% owned by National Hire. Private equity firm Carlyle is the other major shareholder of Coates.

Coates Hire chief executive officer Leigh Ainsworth said winning the Australian rental company of the year award at last week's Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA) convention was welcome recognition for all that the company had achieved since the merger with National Hire.

Mr Ainsworth said the award reflected the progress Coates had made in rebranding the business and its efforts in staff training and safety promotion at a time when it was expanding quickly and investing in its fleet.

"We are very pleased to get the award", he told IRN, "It has taken a few years to bring everything together following the merger." The awards took place on 4 May on the final day of this year's HRIA Convention, held on Australia's Gold Coast.

Coates Hire will invest around A$1 billion over the course of its current three year plan - ending in June 213 - and is on target to hit its revenue target of A$1.5 million in its 2013 financial year. Revenue this year, during which it has invested A$480 million in the business, will be around A$1.3 billion.

"There has been massive investment in the company. We have reinvested every dollar for the past four years", he said.

Mr Ainsworth said the coming years would see the company continue to expand its core operations in Australia, while also looking for opportunities to expand its smaller businesses outside Australia, such as its UK-based Coates Offshore business, which services the oil and gas market.

"We'd like to add to our current international businesses - to bulk them up a little - but if you have lots of opportunities in your home market you would be crazy to drive past them."

He said the continuing boom in natural resource markets in Australia was providing a lot of work for Coates - that sector represents between 45 and 50% of total revenues. "There are some cost pressures for miners - some are looking at slowing down some projects. For us, that would not be a bad thing. It's very difficult to deal with all these projects at the same time."

He said that strong reliance on natural resources did not bother him; "That percentage hasn't changed a lot, although it's a lot more dollars. I don't mind that - it helps keep our business balanced."

He said there were also prospects for investment in Australia's social infrastructure, including major road and hospital projects. "There is a lot of social infrastructure work on the way or coming in the next two or three years", he told IRN.

Mr Ainsworth said a lot of effort had gone into making Coates a more efficient organisation. It is undertaking a fleet bar-coding project that will see the company drive up utilisation and an ‘end to end service' initiative has reduced maintenance costs. "We've dropped our maintenance costs by a couple of percentage points", he said.

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