Steve Hutin celebrates 15 years of ownership at Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd. (RSS) this month (March).
Hutin, managing director, bought the lifting and rigging company in 2006, when a single depot in South Wales employed six staff. The then 30 year old had already been in the lifting sector for 12 years at the time; he was regional manager at Lloyds British when the hire division was acquired by Speedy. Today, 80 employees report for various duties at eight national RSS sites—and Hutin still has unfinished business.
He said: “It’s interesting how people react when you approach these milestones; I remember talking to trade media when I celebrated a decade of ownership. It seems to prompt questions about exit strategies and completion of a journey, but I feel as fresh as I did 15 years ago and remain focussed on continued expansion of the company. My kids are now involved in the business—I didn’t expect that to happen—and I’m planning long-term.”
RSS has continued to grow over the past year, after a brief hiatus when the pandemic hit last spring. It has fully integrated the acquired Gemmak Engineering business, the manufacturing division within the company’s engineering services department; and recently opened a site in Roborough, Plymouth. As is well known throughout the industry, other facilities are in Grangemouth, Scotland; Aylesford, Kent; Templeborough, Rotherham; Heathrow, West London; and Warrington, equidistant to Liverpool and Manchester.
“I actually feel, personally and professionally, in a better place than I did pre-Covid,” said Hutin. “Of course, the terrible disease has caused incalculable grief and carnage, yet, we have ploughed through it and served long-time and new customers that, themselves, have delivered essential manufacturing, construction and other services during the last 12 months. Simultaneously, I have refocused my plans and have been energised by realisation of the importance of people and face-to-face contact with employees and industry contacts. I have redoubled efforts to ensure further growth and embrace the challenges that the lifestyle brings.”
Hutin has always been candid about plans to expand the business to 10 regional facilities, which has forced him to again quash reports that he is nearing a journey’s end, especially as he is expected to reach that target in the near-term future. In fact, he said, natural progression will see RSS open sites beyond that, with quality of service close to the point of use still a priority, despite the increasing availability of products online.
Hutin said: “Location is still important to effective nationwide service and delivery is dependent on the right leadership and staff at each of those sites. Our people, and our ability to retain them, are second to none. We have an online store, but our customers prefer the personal touch—and we like to provide a personal service. I sell the same product that I did 27 years ago and the rules of the game remain unchanged: keep it simple; service is key to growth; enjoy yourself; don’t get too excited in good times, and never too down in rough times. It’s just business.”