Cape Times 8/8/08
REYNOLDS GROUP CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF GROWTH THANKS TO EXPERT CUSTOMER SERVICE
It's been two decades since Seumus Reynolds opened the doors of what
has since become Reynolds Group, one of South Africa's most successful
tool and equipment hire companies. It all started from humble
beginnings, consisting merely of a small unit in the Blairgowie area
of Johannesburg, a driver and a mechanic. Seumus's father-in-law,
helped out at the end of the month with the books. 'I was more glad
than usual I had married Helen,' says the Glasgow-born Seumus,
referring to his wife of 27 years.
Randburg was undergoing a building boom in those days and Seumus, with
his years of working in the On-site Hire trade, was well placed to
keep his fledgling firm growing. His main advantage was intimate
product knowledge which helped him to achieve the key aims of
cost-effectiveness and product reliability. As a qualified artisan
himself, with a background in the carpentry trade, Seumus has never
been shy to share his extensive experience with clients, 'The best
extra we offer is simply free, expert advice on how to use the
equipment,' he says.
Soon they had expanded into an additional workshop behind the unit and
hired a controller and bookkeeper. This early success brought it's own
problems. Neighbours complained about the noise created by the testing
of machines in the back. Before long, the municipality had descended
on them and they were forced to open another branch in Kya Sands which
had a large workshop for testing purposes. Seumus had to add more
staff as the firm continued its explosive growth.
It was around this time that Seumus started to leverage his growing
reputation for excellent hire service into power tool sales. He
started selling the same kinds of tools he rented but added the
reassurance of his capable backup and support services into the
package. Before long, the sales part of the business had grown so
much, that Reynolds Power Tools was launched to take care it. They
offered sales and support for AEG, Milwaukee and Huddy Diamond Blade
and Drills, as well as repairs on all makes of power tools.
By 1992 Reynolds Hire had it's own stand at the Rand Show and a year
after that struck a pivotal distribution deal with AEG Power Tools, a
close relationship that continues to this day. In fact, their success
so impressed the German giant that soon they asked Reynolds Hire to
take on their warranty claims as well, a considerable achievement for
such a young firm.
It was 1996 and the opening of the branch in Cape Town in however,
that saw the company experience some trying times. 'That was a tough
time. People were saying that we would never make it, that the Cape
market was too tough for anyone from Johannesburg.' But Reynolds Hire
doggedly applied the same hard work and expert knowledge formula and
soon the company was expanding quickly again, in part due to its
success in adapting its range of DIY and construction equipment to
Cape Town conditions.
In 1999 Reynolds Group took over African Access which has since become
the market leader in access equipment rentals in the Western Cape.
Putting his son Byron at the helm, they partnered from the start with
top rated access supplier JLG. African Access have since added
equipment from NIFTY to supply a large variety of scissor and personal
lifts, electric and diesel powered boom lifts and trailer mounted
access platforms. As the Western Cape's number one, it's not
surprising that African Access is a popular supplier to the demanding
and deadline sensitive Cape Town film industry, as well as the more
traditional marine and construction sectors.
'The safety aspect is our biggest priority. We insist on it, our
suppliers insist on it,' says Seumus. He adds that access equipment
market leader NIFTY flies in instructors from Europe on a regular
basis to train Reynolds staff in the latest safety and maintenance
procedures. At the moment a staff of 31 employees include 6 mobile
maintenance teams for on-site repairs and support for clients. To
ensure total compliance with safety standards, African Access has a
complete stock turnover for its fleet every five years.
When he is not hard at work, Seumus is very involved with his church
and the community and even sings in the local church choir. Otherwise,
he is busy planning for the next 20 years in the Reynolds Group
success story. Lately, he has being considering a franchising strategy
and recently the company acquired the licence to distribute the
impressive Macdonald compressor range. But he will never forget the
reason the company has made to the top in the first place. As he puts
it, 'the number one reason they come back. We know our stuff.'