Although it is less than three years old, Explore Transport already enjoys a leading place within the marketplace thanks to the pedigree of the business and the high standards that have been ingrained from the outset into the company, which is a specialist supplier of transport and plant hire services to a wide range of industries including construction, rail and aerospace.
“We strive to be the industry leader and deliver best in class levels of safety, service, and efficiency,” explains Dan Thompson, Operations Director. “Our transport division combines over 50 years of construction logistics and haulage expertise and our plant division boasts one of the largest, most diverse and modern ranges of plant equipment, small tools, formwork and falsework systems.”
Possessing both in-house transport and plant divisions allows Explore Transport to provide bespoke end-to-end services tailored to its customers’ requirements. This has been made possible by ongoing investment in its fleet, which now includes over 100 trucks on the road and 20 specialist vehicles, incorporating everything from general plant through to excavators and tele-handlers.
“We strive to be the industry leader and deliver best in class levels of safety, service, and efficiency. Our transport division combines over 50 years of construction logistics and haulage expertise and our plant division boasts one of the largest, most diverse and modern ranges of plant equipment, small tools, formwork and falsework systems.”
Dan Thompson, Operations Director
As well as providing a diverse range of equipment for every need, Explore Transport has also looked to ensure that the quality of the vehicles and plant has been of a particularly high quality to guarantee strong levels of reliability. For instance, on the truck side the fleet is predominately made up of Scania with a smattering of Mercedes at the heavier end. A similar premium approach has been applied on the plant side with its excavators being supplied by the likes of Komatsu and Hitachi, while its tele-handlers are JCB, again providing a strong mixture of high quality machinery.
“Our emphasis on premium brands really reflects our general approach as a business and from the very beginning we’ve looked to establish ourselves at the top end of the marketplace in terms of the quality of service we’re able to provide,” adds Mr Thompson. “We have high specifications for the machinery we purchase for our fleet, incorporating elements such as 360-degree cameras and other additional safety features as standard. Similarly, on the trucks side we’re now FORS Gold compliant across our fleet nationwide.”
Again helping to underline the high standards that Explore Transport operates to, last year it became a member of the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), which sets out terms and conditions for plant hire agreements to help provide fairer operating terms for both the customer and supplier. “It’s relatively early days but they’re already assisting us in offering a fair and consistent service, whilst also helping us to remain up-to-date with the latest industry standards,” says Mr Thompson, who was recently voted onto the CPA council. “Their views are well respected within the industry so it’s a great way for us to further enhance our training programmes and develop our skills in the months and years ahead.
“The CPA are going to be playing a major role in developing skills generally across the industry so our involvement with them is a great opportunity for us, particularly as the council is made up of a mix of representatives from different companies nationwide. There’s a substantial amount of industry knowledge that we can tap into.
“From a transport perspective, we are putting a significant amount of focus onto our specialist heavy side, as we foresee this will provide substantial growth potential going forward. To support this we will be continuing to invest in our fleet. We have already purchased specialist tractor units and trailers so we already have strong capability in this area. As we grow, however, it is important we keep expanding our fleet so that we’re well placed to make the most of the opportunities in this area. There are a few other major players within the market but we’ve been able to set ourselves apart because of the high spec investment we’ve been making, which allows us to carry out much more complex types of work in an efficient and extremely safe manner. This will continue to be a major differentiator for us.”
Mirroring the investment it has made in its plant and machinery fleet, Explore Transport has also worked hard to develop its depot network to build strong national coverage. It currently has six depots: Erith, Dagenham, St Neots, Wincham, Worksop and Swadlincote, but others are in the pipeline, while existing sites are due for expansion or re-location. The next major depot development will see the creation of a site in Balborough near Worksop that will include a new head office for the business. Again this commitment to investment will ensure that the company has the infrastructure to underpin its longer term goals.
“Our emphasis on premium brands really reflects our general approach as a business and from the very beginning we’ve looked to establish ourselves at the top end of the marketplace in terms of the quality of service we’re able to provide. We have high specifications for the machinery we purchase for our fleet, incorporating elements such as 360-degree cameras and other additional safety features as standard. Similarly, on the trucks side we’re now FORS Gold compliant across our fleet nationwide.”
Dan Thompson, Operations Director
“We’re very busy but the market is also extremely competitive with some really good operators out there providing high levels of service of their own. This can only be a good for the industry generally but it also means that we have to keep pushing ourselves forward in order to keep growing and continually meet the needs of our customers, both new and existing. We have some clear key points of difference but it’s equally important that we retain consistency in our other areas of strength, such as safety, efficiency and service. These remain our top priorities as we strive to avoid getting embroiled in a pricing war.
“Again by focusing on the more premium end of the spectrum we’re firmly placing ourselves at the top tier of the marketplace but doing so at a price that the customer is still willing to pay. This is a challenge but we are fully committed to rising to it and demonstrating strong levels of service and safety backed up with high quality equipment that’s easy to use and well trained staff.
“We put a lot time and effort into developing our people and an excellent example of this is the fact that we’ve developed a load securing manual, which provides our drivers with a detailed picture of every single load they could possibly carry with precise details of where to contain them and strap them in. We’re also working with Dennis Eagle on developing an urban tractor unit that has a much improved field of vision to improve safety further, particularly in built up areas such as London. It’s all about driving up standards wherever we can.”
Having made such a good start, Explore Transport is obviously in no mood to take its foot off the accelerator as it moves to the next level in its development. “We really want to develop the plant side of the business and we have earmarked significant investment of around £15m for this area for the rest of the year,” says Mr Thompson. “This is a huge sum for what is still a relatively small business but it really underlines our aspiration to establish our brand and reputation. At every stage we will be investing further to give us the capabilities to keep developing and expanding, particularly as we move further into the more specialist transport areas. At the same time, we’re looking forward to working ever closer with the CPA to further develop our skills and maximise the opportunities that come our way.”
As it looks to make the most of these opportunities, Explore Transport will be keen to maintain the momentum it has already built up in the three years since its creation.