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A man in a hurry – Rob Collard takes the fast route to success

A man in a hurry – Rob Collard takes the fast route to success


By Andrew Gold

Few companies have the need for speed at the very core of their business ethos.

Demolition, recycling, haulage and aggregates’ specialists R Collard Limited have not only embraced this philosophy, they have used it as a motivation to deliver quite outstanding results over the past few years.

In such a fast-paced, successful environment, is it really any surprise the man at the wheel of the company is none other than a bona fide motor racing star?

Entrepreneur Robert Collard, a race-winner in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and a 20 year track veteran, is regularly seen on the ITV network in a West Surrey Racing car at speeds approaching 200 mph.

In between jousting for the BTCC title, his ‘day’ job as boss of R Collard Ltd is no less demanding, as the MD of an ever growing national company delivering demolition, waste management, and haulage services.

The company, from Eversley, Hampshire, has 250 full time employees plus a fleet of 75 lorries and 1,500 skips, ranging in size from four to 40 cubic yard capacity. Tonnage tipped increased 24.5% from 411,251 tonnes in 2014 to 512,000 tonnes in 2015, while turnover rose by 25 % to £26 million in 2015.

It is a far cry from the devoted dad’s early days in the business, when he started off on his own in 1992 with a second hand lorry and only his work ethic to rely on. He looks back fondly at the early days, when he had hope in his heart and a fierce ambition to make his way in the world.

Robert, 47, recalleWSR 2016 BTCC Gardx Sponsored West Surrey Sam Tordoff, Rob Collard and Dick Bennetts Racing BMW 30th January 2016 Copyright Malcolm Griffiths<a href=d: “I remember more about the very early days, than the current days. I took my first lorry as a bad debt, and it was a Ford D series 10 tonne truck.

“It was a truck I had done some repair work on, and the guy couldn’t pay his bill. That became my first truck, and I started doing some day work.

“I was then asked for a JCB, and I bought an old JCB 3C with a knackered engine. I went to a scrap yard and bought an engine, got that working and the little ten tonne truck and the JCB was the start of it all.”

That scenario is a stratosphere away from today, as his company spends a cool £3 million per year on continuing lorry and plant purchases, £120k on investment in training, and boasts an impressive five-year fleet and plant replacement policy

Ace driver and businessman Robert still gets his hands dirty, and his love of all things practical is a key factor in his two decades charge towards establishing the firm in a demanding marketplace.

FEEL THE METAL

He admitted: “I still very much like to go out and feel the metal, and predominantly the first place I go in to each day is the workshop. We have an 8,000 square foot workshop, and about ten mechanics and welders working there.

“I just like to see what the guys are up to, so I can keep an eye on costs. Then I will go into the waste recycling area, and have a look in there.”

Driven by a zero-to-landfill commitment designed to minimise environmental impact, the company boss believes the hard yards he endured have made the company what it is today – recent winners of a CIWM award for Most Sustainable Demolition and Construction Project.

He added: The strength of this company is I started in a recession, and then we endured another in 2009-10. We have also been lucky enough to take advantage of certain sites and opportunities, and what we did five years ago was key as to where we are now.

“We have done acquisitions of property and yards, and certain key people, and we have been able to really make hay when the sun shines in the last three years. The key to our success is we are a lean machine, and we do not have loads of overheads.

Rob Collard Photography 1st February 2015 Eversley Haulage Park, Eversley. Surrey Copyright Malcolm Griffiths<a href=

“Our strength is we are very flexible, and are able to see trends and keep our overheads down and profits up. We also buy good quality equipment, which gives us good sustainability and returns on investment.

Robert continued: “We’re very lucky in that demolition is a main feeder of work into the waste yard – generating the wood and the rubbish, and the hard material around us to crush. It’s a circular economy – we bring waste in and crush it, wash the aggregates, and sell it back out to the new construction sites that are rebuilding on the sites we previously demolished.

“We’re also tying up skip packages with the client early on – we can be on site from anything from a one month contract to a two year contract. We do the demolition and stay on site help doing remediation.

“We then put the crushed concrete back down, and offer a waste segregation package with the skips. That waste comes back into the system, so the client is using us as first person on onto a site to take out asbestos and doing the demolition work.

“Finally, we are virtually the last on site taking the skip away, when they have the final sweep up and hand over the key to new tenants.”

Rob has adopted key factors from his lengthy racing career into his business, and pays tribute to his R Collard Limited staff, who keep the company moving like clockwork during his absences when racing.

He added: “The one thing I have learned massively from being a professional sportsman and motor racing is there is not just one person in the team, and everybody is important. I try and bring that ethos into my business – everybody is important, and we are all successful together.

GREAT MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE

“We have a very good management structure, and I trust the people implicitly. It is the same when I put on my racing helmet on and drive the car at 160 mph, and have no fear anything is going to break.

“I trust the people in my business to make good financial and commercial decisions, and they like having the responsibility to do this.”

Rob is every bit as driven while wearing a business suit as he is when he is donning his white leathers and competing against many of the best drivers in the world. collard skip

He admitted: “I don’t take any prisoners – I am very hands on, and know all aspects of the business. I am very competitive as a person, and there is no difference from sitting in a race car or running my business.

“I don’t want to lose any customers. I don’t want to lose any jobs. We give it absolutely our best service, and second best is never good enough for us.

“We treat everyone the same, and give them the best service we can. I get really annoyed if we lose a customer for bad service – that is the ethos we try and put into everyone who works here.

“Every customer is important – just because we are successful, does not mean we can be dismissive.”

The Collards keep things in the family. Prior to Rob’s amazing success in business, his father ran a skip and waste firm for almost forty years. His dad is none other than Hot Rod and Stock Car legend Mick ‘Duffy’ Collard, and his sons Ricky and Jordan are up-and-coming racing stars.

Before ending our conversation, the R Collard Limited boss took time out of his packed schedule to praise Skip Hire Magazine. Generously he added: “We get the magazine here regularly and it is a great quality magazine, and has some great features in it.”

 

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