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Pirtek Kinross - Lead into Gold

Pirtek Kinross has a long-term relationship with Wm Russell and Sons Limited, which has been in existence since 1932. The company was established in that year as a scrapyard and car breaker. It continued to make its primary money out of the metal trade until 1967 when Leslie Kay, William Russell’s grandson, started the skip hire side of the business. With an established business in scrap metal and having moved into skip hire, waste sorting and disposal was a natural step forward. 

“My father started the skips separately from the metal side of it and then it just all came together,” says Steven Kay, the fourth generation of the still wholly owned business. “It was a natural progression from scrap to the skip hire.” The full-on sorting of waste for reuse and recycling came later, in the mid 1990s, around the time Steven entered the family business. Initially this was just picking out wood and metal, but plastic and cardboard were soon added to this. Wood is either sent to Steven’s Croft wood fired power station near Lockerbie, which is the largest biomass plant in the UK, or, if it’s suitable, is made into chipboard.

Another significant element of waste that is sorted on Wm Russell’s site is PVCu window frames, which are sent to be recycled, while rubble is sent to be used as hardcore. Most of this waste comes from building sites, with a small amount of domestic waste as well.  “Only about one per cent of the waste that comes in here goes to landfill, if that,” says Steven. “That’s carpets and mattresses, that kind of thing, complex structures with more, different materials bound together.”

Wm Russell and Sons started working with Pirtek at around the time it began recycling in the 1990s. “We were still doing a few scrap cars at that time, 24 years ago... I don’t think my dad would have regularly used anyone else,” says Steven.

Ally Thomson, general manager at Pirtek Kinross, interjects, “Your dad did tell me he was going to give one of the competitors a try but I remember him coming back to me later and saying ‘I’ve tried them out but at the end of the day, I’m just not getting the service.’” Steven agrees, saying, “We have built up a relationship over the years. We’ve got to have trust between us or it wouldn’t work.”  With an MSST permanently on call, Pirtek promises 24-hour service. However, this is not the primary concern for Wm Russell.

 “We’ve got articulated lorries down in Hartlepool that stay overnight so if anything happened down there, they might need help, but usually they’re parked up at that time. “If they do need something done at eight o’clock at night, unless it’s desperate we try to leave it for the morning.

“The best thing for us is probably the one hour expected arrival time. We very much appreciate Pirtek’s commitment to be as fast as possible.”

Pirtek expects its engineers to arrive within an hour in normal circumstances. This obviously depends on many factors such as the relative location of the site and the mobile workshop, traffic and workload. The important thing is communication, Ally says. “I’ve hammered it into our guys that if we cannot make it and we know we can’t make it, we have to tell you. There’s nothing worse than sitting there thinking, ‘Come on, come on, what’s happening?’ “I’ve always said if you realistically think it’s going to be an hour and a half or two hours, you’re better saying that. It gives the customer options.”

Ally understands his customer’s needs and the different ways in which he can solve their problems.

“Our MSSTs have got to know you guys, they know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and they know that when a truck’s down or your grab’s down… they are conscious of it, we’re conscious of it.”

The skip hire company uses a wide variety of equipment, all of which is critical to its work. These include everything from the skip lorries, to forklifts, bulldozers, 360 degree grabbers, bailers and ultimately, the picking station at the top of the conveyor belt.

“When the machines go down they’ve got to be up and running, near enough straight away. If your conveyor belt goes down, your guys are not working. That’s why we try and push the one-hour service.”

In the unlikely event that it proves impossible for the MSST to get to the site in a reasonable time, both sides understand that there are alternatives.

“Sometimes you can take a hose off and bring it up to us or if the machine is moveable, you bring that. “We’ve also delivered hoses to Wm Russell so that you also had a stock of them here and could do it yourself if necessary.”

Aside from reactive maintenance, Pirtek also carries out a degree of preventative work at the site and this is a service that they would be keen to take further.

“We inspect the machines every six weeks. We can take this to the next degree by marking up all the hoses and creating a hose register, which enables us to replace hoses in advance of catastrophic failure.”

Steven sums up his business by emphasising that it’s a family firm that remains wholly owned and is now in the hands of its fourth and fifth generation. While it has a strong heritage, it is keeping up with the times and is one of the first skip hire companies to enable online hire using PayPal (www.wmrussell.co.uk). With a 25 year relationship with Pirtek, the Kinross franchise is clearly coming up with the goods.

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Pirtek Racing battles hard at Thruxton

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