Following a 12 month absence, John Mitchell has returned to Pluscrates – the business he started with Neil McGuigan – and nearly four months on declares ‘it’s great to be back’.

So what was John up to while he was away? “An eclectic mix of business and pleasure,” he says. “Most who know me in the industry know my passion for motorcycling and during the last half of 2009 I managed to tick off a few motorcycling mile stones: getting my knee down at Silverstone; the same at the Nurburgring; qualifying as an advanced motorcycling coach; and completing a Wheelie School course at the infamous Long Marston Drag Strip were amongst my highlights. My wife tells me that defining the year a success on account of having ridden around a corner with my knee on the ground and popping some wheelies betrays an alarming level of juvenile immaturity and, of course, she’s usually right.”

As far as the business side is concerned, John’s activities have been about as far away from crate rental as it’s possible to get. “During the first half of 2010 I provided sales consultancy to SmartWater Technology Ltd, a fascinating business and one far removed from crate hire and commercial relocation. SmartWater are principally a risk management business engaged in implementing forensic security systems and crime reduction strategies across the UK and within specific international market sectors. Although my engagement with SmartWater ended in July, I continue to take an interest in their business and I would be glad to offer an independent appraisal of SmartWater’s ability to bring a security solution to any BAR member suffering from criminal attacks to their premises or vehicles. Before I completed my project with them I made sure that my motorcycle was registered and forensically coded with a unique SmartWater solution.”

Asked whether there were any surprises for him when he re-joined Pluscrates, he commented that there was bound to be some changes for a company that was growing more rapidly than any he had known before. “Immediately upon returning I engaged with the national operations management team and put together a major plan to reorganise the operational structure. With the help and support of regional director, Nick Flaxman, we drove through the positive change very quickly indeed.” John explained that his clients now have greater visibility of their orders via an enhanced extranet supported by satellite vehicle tracking and the launch of Pluscrates latest service centre that has brought a local presence to the commercial relocation market in Bristol and the South West. “The business has also begun to feed in new bespoke delivery vehicles specially constructed to perfectly match payload and space with the precise dimensions shared by the suite of crates carried. It has improved our standard service and added greater strength and depth to the emergency same day service.”

John is happy with the way he’s been able to slip back into the business after his absence and is expecting the business to be “More of the same,” in the near future. “We have built the business and positioned it to be the recognised crate hire specialists for the UK commercial relocation industry,” he says. “There are well established opportunities for us to diversify adding packaging material to our product range and offering services such as records management and document shredding though our view is that pursuing these options could put us at risk of competing with our core client base and that’s a chance we’re not prepared to take. We would prefer instead to capitalise on the strength of our specialist expertise by taking Pluscrates to international markets and we are currently working on a franchise model which will enable us to achieve this within a reasonable time frame.” That seems like a big job in itself after which John just might need a bit more time off. Donnington perhaps?