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Harry Mc Ardle, who set up Height for Hire in 1978, tells us about business, family and survival.
Height for Hire is the largest privately owned MEWP access rental company in the UK and Ireland, with over 2,000 machines in its fleet and 20 depots across Ireland, the UK, Hungary and Slovakia.
Back in the 1970s, before there was Height for Hire, Founder and Chairman Harry Mc Ardle ran a sludge disposal and water jetting business in Co. Louth. On one particularly tough day at a local industrial plant Harry looked up at his first aerial platform and never looked back.
“The access industry and construction sector have seen many changes, as has Ireland, in the last 40 years.” Harry says. “But in that time family businesses have always been the lifeblood of this country and have kept it going in the good times and the bad. You have to move and evolve with the times in order to keep going. As Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
From humble beginnings with just one 40ft vehicle-mounted machine in 1978, Height for Hire has since grown its fleet to provide a range of battery and diesel scissor and boom lifts up to 50m, as well as specialised solutions for difficult and challenging access through its Spider Lift division.
In addition to the core kit and Spider Lifts, Height for Hire also provides truck-mounted MEWPs with operators up to 90m for customers working at extreme heights or who need that extra outreach, and a safe pair of hands. And for local customers who need a flexible solution that allows them to work the hours that suit them, Height for Hire provides a range Self Drive van mounts up to 20m, weighing only 3.5 tonnes so they can be driven on a standard car licence.
“It’s been an interesting journey and we’ve seen a lot of changes since we started.” Harry Mc Ardle says. “But while the machines and technology have become more sophisticated the basic idea remains the same. It’s about providing safe and practical solutions for working at height so everyone can get the job done and get home safe.”
Height for Hire Safety Training has provided International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) certified training courses for over 25 years.
In recent years, the business has embraced lean principles and continuous improvement across all depots, introducing several lean initiatives to improve operational and service metrics and promote safety.
“We know our customers need to ensure all machines are safe and want to maximise uptime on site, so we have built our operational systems with safety, traceability and operational efficiencies in mind.” Harry’s daughter Frances Mc Ardle, Height for Hire’s Director of Safety Training explains.
Height for Hire machines operate a QR code system, which is a unique identifier containing the plant number and can allow customers to download the Thorough Examination Safety Cert directly onto their phone within seconds, using open source software that can be downloaded for free.
Each machine also has a full history digitally recorded in a central location on an IT system built in-house by the Height for Hire Technical Support and IT team. All Service Engineers can access this information at any time on their tablets wherever they are, which allows the Height for Hire team to make sure their machines are fully compliant before they leave the depot. The hire can also be supported on site with access to the Height for Hire Technical Support team, which operates a 24/7 free-phone helpline.
Hire Desk: Freephone 1800 43 44 48
Technical Support: Freephone 1800 80 44 35