Neil McGuigan is no stranger to BAR (British Association of Removers). His parents, Gordon and Doris McGuigan, founded Rentacrate in the early 1970’s, Neil founded Eurocrate in the mid 1980’s and during his tenure as managing director, Eurocrate became the first major BAR conference sponsor at the Midland Crown Plaza in Manchester 1988. So after leaving the industry in 1998 what was it that brought Neil back into crate hire and to the BAR?

“I maintained contact with a handful of former clients and friends in the commercial moving industry and from time to time have been encouraged to return to the business. Demand from developing crate rental markets overseas, notably Australia, New Zealand and South Africa got me interested enough to set up Pluscrates for the manufacture and sale of crates in the emerging foreign markets. PHS Teacrate and Rentacrate were competing fiercely at that time and the crate rental market really didn’t look like a good place for a new entrant. It was only after 6 months of consolidation in the industry following PHS’s acquisition of Rentacrate that I sensed the industry becoming more attractive for a new entrant and start up business”.

Neil launched the business in September 2008 with John Mitchell, former managing director of Rentacrate and previous operations director of Teacrate and Eurocrate. During 2009, Pluscrates and its trading partner, Northern Crates, where formally merged and with service centres also opened in Birmingham and Livingston, the enlarged business began offering national crate rental services within its first 7 months trading. Neil said “I seriously underestimated the level of latent demand for specialist, quality crate hire across the UK and very quickly we had a tiger by the tail. The joint operational skills brought by John Mitchell and Nick Flaxman were critical during that time and the challenges of funding such rapid growth during a credit crunch kept me very busy too”.

In July 2009, John Mitchell resigned from the business and left the industry – following departure the business continued to grow, now operating 24 liveried vehicles and with plans well underway to open the business’s 5th customer service centre as well as developing its overseas distribution network as originally planned. “The merger of Pluscrates and Northern Crates was another of the things which I could never have predicted and which proved to be the catalyst in achieving such rapid progression in establishing a national presence. Nick Flaxman experienced the same meteoric growth after launching Northern Crates and following our merger was appointed regional director of the enlarged Pluscrates business. All those who know Nick will know well his passion for excellence and with the support of his management team he heads up our continued business development with what I have always described as: infectious enthusiasm”, said Neil.

Pluscrates join the BAR (www.bar.co.uk) as affiliate members 18 months on from its launch, picking up the position made vacant following the acquisition of GB Nationwide by PHS and its integration to their Teacrate business. So what for the next 18 months at Pluscrates, presumably a period of consolidation for the start up business? Neil responds “Absolutely not. Pluscrates has benefited from a unique and unrepeatable situation in the crate rental market. Outside of that, our progress is closely linked to what’s happening in the commercial relocation market and it would be naive to suggest that the reported, modest economic recovery has filtered through with any multiplier effect to business relocation. On the contrary, in my view, we are still some way off seeing a level of economic recovery which will support growth across the whole market. We are a crate hire specialist, it’s what all of our energy and focus goes into and right now, we are the only crate hire specialist offering services nationally. To take full advantage of our position and grow from it, we have to continually step up our game and continue to ensure that we deliver consistent high quality service and value for money. I suspect that you would get a very similar market overview from every stakeholder in the UK commercial moving industry though, on the plus side, I’m equally convinced that we are all through the worst. I am a long time West Brom fan so I’ve have learned, over the years, to take the positives out of every situation. I guess you could say that I am a ‘glass half full’ kind of businessman and I am feeling very optimistic about the future of Pluscrates and the outlook for the larger commercial relocation industry”.

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