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An alternative to traditional disposal

Mobile crusher manufacturer Red Rhino has defied the recession and shown impressive growth. Andrea Lockerbie finds out more

Jason Purllant, Red Rhino’s sales and marketing director is chirpy. He has just been to see the manufacturer’s new factory, next door to its existing site, and has been speaking to the BBC about featuring as a case study of a business that has grown despite the recession.

The key to its success is its range of mobile crushers. These allow customers to process rubble and turn it into aggregate, avoiding the costs associated with disposal and purchasing new aggregate.

A recent high-profile client is tunneling, civil engineering and construction venture Bam, Ferrovial, Kier (BFK), which is working on London’s Crossrail project. It has lowered Red Rhino crushers into the tunnel and is using the machines to crush concrete in the tunnel and reuse it on the project.

Purllant explains that the mobile crushers have application in a range of areas, from waste transfer stations to construction projects. 

Niche uses have included crushing contraband ivory, to ensure it does not go back on to the open market. The company also sold 24 machines to Haiti in 2010 to help with the earthquake aftermath.

The numbers that grab attention include Red Rhino’s year-on-year growth of 40% from 2012/13 to 2013/14. Purllant says the business had no down period during the recession.

He attributes this to the market becoming “more aware and more mature” and educated about cost-saving alternatives to traditional disposal, with the landfill tax also “driving great behavioural change”.

When Purllant joined the company in 2010, it was turning over about £250,000. By year end this time, he says it has invoiced out upwards of £2.3m. “I want this figure to be £3.5m next year,” he adds. A £1m investment in the new premises will help achieve this goal.

“When I first joined, the proportion we exported was 70% and that sold to the UK was 30%,” he says. Now, the numbers have reversed, so that around 70% of its business is from the UK. That said, Red Rhino has sold machines around the world, including to the US, Canada, Israel and Australia.

Its two biggest challenges are communicating its product offer and convincing people that the machines will do what they claim to do. Everything is manufactured in Grantham, Lincolnshire, allowing clients to visit and see their crushers being made.

To drive growth the company will focus on three core areas: waste management/transfer stations, demolition and plant hire. As Purllant explains, legislation has changed behaviour: “There will come a time when no aggregate waste goes to landfill.”

Cost as well as legislation is influencing purchasing decisions, with a typical payback period for machines of six to 12 months. But the real key to its success are the simplicity of the machines, their strong residual value and the fact that parts are replaceable.

Ahead of its time?

Red Rhino was formed in 1999 but has had something of a chequered history. Purllant describes it as “having been launched by ideas people ahead of their time”. It went under in 2008 and was bought by Wingfield Engineering, its current owner, in 2009.

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