Hub-4 interview with ben mcquaid and rob symons
Ben McQuaid, Director, Matpro Rob Symons, Director, CRJ
**Interview property of Hub-4 magazine**
With one year since the merger between Matpro Machinery and CRJ Services, the Hub-4 team went along to speak to two of our company directors, Ben McQuaid and Rob Symons, to ask about the history of the two companies, how the merger came about, how the first year has gone as a whole as well as the focus moving forward into 2018.
Can you give us a little background on the two companies and how they came together?
Rob: CRJ started back in 1999 when three of the directors saw an opportunity to diversify from Farming operations to Organics Recycling. Originally starting out solely focusing on green waste recycling contracts for councils in Cheshire, an early opportunity was identified to grow the business further with the lease of existing machinery across the country; including our initial small fleet of high-speed Doppstadt AK430 shredders. The business grew rapidly from here on, with the company soon expanding to offer a full range of other means of recycling equipment on hire.
Ben: Matpro was founded in 2014, initially operating as equipment distributors for the renowned Haas shredder and Anaconda Equipment brands across Scotland and the North East of England. After a period of rapid growth in our early years, the company then started to cover further south, including north of the Birmingham area. We soon merged with CRJ Services in December 2016 in order to help satisfy the entire UK & Ireland market.
Rob: The merger has allowed us to create one of the largest machinery hire and sales organisations in the UK. It has enabled us both to respond better to market needs through the unification of resources. Between us, we now have exceptional aftersales capabilities with 17 trained engineers, fully equipped service vehicles and a spare parts stock holding valuing over £1,000,000.
Ben: In 2017 we demonstrated our ongoing commitment to reaching our main goal of continuing to become a consistent and recognized force in recycling industry – and this continues to be our main goal going into 2018.
Please tell us more about CRJ’s hire fleet?
Rob: We currently have 85+ machines in our hire fleet. We have a selection of; high-speed shredders, slow-speed shredders, trommel screens, star screens, deck screens, picking stations, stockpile conveyors and metal & density separators. Our reliable machinery is suitable for a wide range of materials including; green waste, wood waste, general waste, aggregates, plastics and many more.
Which brands do Matpro represent and are you exclusive agents for each for the UK?
Ben: Matpro represents 5 well-known European OEM brands in the UK including; Haas Recycling, Anaconda Equipment, Nihot, Steelweld Enviro Products and Weima. Among these brands, we specialise in a wide range of new and used material processing equipment including; industrial waste shredders, industrial wood shredders, screeners, trommels, eddy current separators, air separators, conveyor systems and bespoke recycling systems.
Please tell us a bit more about your relationship with Haas Recycling?
Ben: We are exclusive UK & Ireland distributors for the world’s leading shredder manufacturer – Haas Recycling. Amongst its portfolio includes the Haas Tyron shredding range (static and mobile), the Hammermill HSZ (Wood Chip producer) and the Haas Flat Screen HPS (Oscillating screen for the screening of wood chip) among many others. The Haas Tyron shredding range is the staple product, with its unique independent shaft drive mechanism allowing for outstanding shredding capabilities. The variation in speed and direction of the independent shafts helps deliver a consistent, powerful performance with an unparalleled ability to keep the shafts clean for longer periods. The HAAS industrial shredder is suitable for shredding the most demanding of materials including; general waste, wood waste, green waste, rubber tyres, aluminium, mattresses and many more.
How big is the current operation here? How big is the site? How many staff do you have across Matpro and then CRJ? Do you have your own installation engineers and service team?
Rob: We are based in a small rural village called Allostock, just outside Knutsford, Cheshire. Our site is around 2 acres, which accommodates our main offices, two large workshop areas, a large parts store and a large yard to house machinery and larger parts. In terms of expansion, we also have a further site in Middlewich in the pipeline, a further 2-acre site which can help us hold more machines as the company continues to expand. We also have offices in Belfast, Glasgow and London to help satisfy local needs. Among our 41 staff, a majority of these make up a very successful engineer and service team. We really have the best engineers in the industry, who are passionate at what they do, and help keep the machines maintained in a tip top condition all year long. All machines in the hire fleet are serviced every 250 hours of work and our dedicated engineers are always on hand to assist any customer site problems within 24 hours of notification.
What key elements of the business have seen the most investment recently?
Ben: Aftersales. At CRJ/Matpro we understand it’s not just about selling machinery, but also prioritising customers’ uptime, long after the sale. We have invested in two further aftersales managers and two mobile service engineers within the past 12 months. Our Aftersales Managers work closely with our OEMs to ensure a wide range of components is always held in stock and always despatched on time, minimising any chance of downtime, whilst coordinating the field engineers accordingly. Our investment in expertise ensures technical support between manufacturers, ourselves and the customer is always available, whenever needed.
How has 2017 gone for you?
Rob: Really, really well. We have been as busy as ever this year, and our hire yard is looking very empty for late December! The merger has worked out to be extremely complimentary, helping us to increase our machinery utilisation levels, spare parts sales etc. We have hired recycling equipment to a broad spectrum of customer, including Blue Chip Companies right through to sole trader, owner operated farm based composters. We have ventured into many unfamiliar regions such as Spain, Sweden and Estonia!
Ben: Fantastic! There has been a huge demand for Haas shredders in particular. We have been able to supply several types of premium equipment to some of the UK’s largest recycling companies and in particular the vast majority of the UK’s major wood processors which needless to say, we are delighted with.
Can you talk us through a couple of recent installations and how the equipment has been used and how it has helped each client in their overall process?
Rob: Our biggest job working in conjunction with Matpro was probably helping to deliver both short and long-term solutions to South West wood processor, Brooke Energy. After experiencing continuous problems with traces of aluminium in their biomass fuel, Brooke Energy sought an immediate solution through means of a mobile eddy current separator. At short notice, we managed to supply a metal separator on hire, before a longer-term solution was identified. Matpro then supplied the Strobe ECS 1500 metal separator, a product which today, we have several in our hire fleet.
Ben: On the Haas front, Matpro has also recently equipped leading wood waste recycler Timberpak Scotland, part of the EGGER family with a brand-new Haas Tyron 2500 model. The 2500 model is helping to process up to 100,000 tonnes of wood waste a year at Timberpak’s Scotland facility. We had supplied Timberpak with a Picking Station 12 months previous and have built a solid relationship with them. We were delighted that they chose the Haas 2500; the 45T largest of the Haas range, and have thankfully started a welcome trend in the market.
Biffa Dewsbury and R Plevin and Sons Ltd have also recently purchased the 2500. Similar to Timberpak/EGGER (UK), these companies need no introduction to the UK recycling industry.
How do you see the UK market growing into 2018 and beyond? How is the company looking to expand?
Rob: With the new site on the horizon, we also plan on continuing to increase our hire fleet with machinery. We have entered new processing and geographical markets in 2017 and we plan to increase on this. We also look forward to the innovative solutions that our suppliers give to us to bring to our markets.
Ben: Increased demand for alternative fuels with the surge in biomass incineration and plastic recycling in response to China’s changing economic and environmental policy. As a distributor for Weima shredders, CRJ/Matpro can provide the UK market with compact shredding equipment which is reliable, cost effective and suitable for all kinds of waste.
What is the biggest threat to your industry in the future?