Horizon Platforms are proud to be a leading rental solutions provider in the powered access sector. Over the years we have seen the company grow massively, with our UK-wide customers and partners placing trust in us time and time again.
In addition, a commitment to continuously exceed customer expectations was cemented with business ownership transitioning to its passionate employees through an employee ownership trust. A business structure very unique in the MEWP hire industry
Read our story to find out how we came to be one of the UK’s leading providers of powered access rental solutions and the journey we took to get there.
On a brisk January morning in 2008, we saw Horizon Platforms first open its doors at a rented warehouse in Horbury, West Yorkshire. Ben Hirst and Matthew Fray started out the business with a fleet that consisted of just twelve small battery scissor lifts that would be delivered and collected using two Land Rover 4x4 vehicles and two plant trailers. The business is now very different, boasting an own-fleet of several 100s of MEWPs and access to 1000s of platforms through a trusted nationwide partner network.
Our business and reputation has grown out of recognition that there is much more to providing platforms for hire than simply moving metal. Since that very first day over a decade ago, Horizon has prided itself on providing rapid, reliable powered access solutions.
Within a few months, it became clear that we had underestimated the size of our opportunity. The MEWP fleet grew quickly and so did the team. Our team grew rapidly to seven in 2008, with many of those employees still with us today. The culture and ethos at Horizon also took shape, with a relentless focus on delivering reliable, efficient and high-quality service. This led to the business growing its fleet to one hundred machines - fifty more than originally planned - as it kept up with demand from delighted customers.
To help the business grow further, Rory Duggan joined and became a joint-majority shareholder and board member. His sales experience gained from years of working in the industry has helped the business continue to expand and grow.
Strategic Account Director, Rory Duggan, says: ‘Throughout the history of Horizon Platforms we have set and evolved our core values to ensure our aims stay focused on exceeding customer expectations and creating a great working environment for our team These also act as benchmarks to appraise ourselves on, which is something we do annually to guarantee our culture remains positive and current as we grow.’
In 2010, Horizon Platforms and the team moved into their new home - a 17,000 sq. ft facility located close to Junction 40 of the M1, Wakefield. The move was used to formalise our quality management systems, enabling us to successfully attain our triple crown of ISO standards; ISO 9001, 14001, and OHSAS 18001 accreditations, which we continue to maintain today.
Throughout the growth of Horizon Platforms, we started to hire fully qualified instructors to offer the highest standard of training in both IPAF, including 1b, 3a, and 3b combined courses, and PASMA training. We are able to offer training at our Wakefield depot or at a location that suits our customers. With an incredible 96% pass rate, our training courses are available to ensure operators, demonstrators or managers are able to use MEWPs safely and efficiently.
After two years of continued growth, Horizon Platforms opened its second location in Warrington, near the M6, in 2013. Increasing the size of the team by 40 and the fleet to five hundred platforms.
Thanks to this impressive growth, the board felt it was time to bring in Non-Executive support. Fortunately for Horizon Platforms, the timing could not have been better as Kevin Appleton, one of the most well known powered access specialists in the world, was now on the market. Kevin joined our business as Non-Executive Chairman and continues to support Horizon with its ambitious growth plans.
Our culture generates a great sense of pride within the Horizon team by offering a high quality of service and platforms. So, when we ran our first Net Promoter score survey and hit an NPS of 75, we were over the moon. Our score was higher than some of the world’s best-known brands such as Amazon, eBay and Apple. We still pinch ourselves now when the results come out! One of the key benefits of having a high NPS for our business is the ability to gain and retain customers, something we are very proud of.
Growth continued over the next few years, with space becoming very tight. In 2016 we moved into our purpose-built super depot, a 47,000 sq. ft facility in Normanton, Wakefield in West Yorkshire.
Our depot is a true testament to what Horizon Platforms always strives to be: a leading example of delivering excellence to our customers. This warehouse had our MEWP engineers and team drooling with its brand new PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) bays, highly-organised facilities and multiple charging stations. The new open plan office space for the sales, customer experience and operation teams gave our work-family the space it needed to thrive and grow.
Over the years the team continued to grow and, in 2017, more key appointments were made to the board and an abundance of Horizon Platform job vacancies were filled. Notably, a new Operations Director, Adrian Bleasdale (now our Chief Operating Officer), and Finance Director, Tanja Willis, joined the team. They hold important positions and both team members continue to support the business today.
In 2018, Horizon Platforms’ thirst for excellence continued as we became the world’s first rental business to achieve IPAF Rental+ Gold status. This was a huge achievement for the team and set an extremely high standard within the industry.
From 2018 onwards the fleet has grown and our team has gone from strength to strength. In 2019 Marco Maccio joined the business and eventually the board as Marketing and Digital Director, helping to build strategies to support growth and enhance Horizon Platforms’ digital capabilities.
2020 was one of our most challenging years yet, for obvious reasons. With the world experiencing the coronavirus pandemic, Horizon Platforms - like many other businesses - had to make the tough decision to close down our Warrington facility. We will always be grateful to the former team for the years of dedicated service they gave us.
Following this incredibly difficult time, the remaining team pulled together. We were able to deliver a better financial year than in the previous year - a phenomenal achievement and (dare we say it) the whole experience created an even closer team.
On a positive note, we further strengthened the executive team, as Tom Matthews joined Horizon Platforms as our Sales Director and David Webster as our new Finance Director.
2021 Horizon Platforms move into employee ownership. The original majority shareholders sold their shares to the Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) and all Horizon Platforms’ employees became beneficiaries of the trust. This allows employees to feel empowered to drive innovation and grow the business further.
Early in 2022, the company revolutionised how customers interacted with Horizon Platforms through the launch of HireHub. Accessible and available 24/7, customers were given the option to hire, off-hire, track hires and monitor spend online in addition to working directly with the team.
Later in 2022, Horizon Platforms were accredited as a 2-star Company by Best Companies, formerly comprising the Sunday Times List. Officially confirming the company as an outstanding place to work and placing Horizon in the top 100 mid-sized companies to work for in the UK.
As we continue to grow, we know the future will be challenging but we very much look forward to our journey. We will constantly strive for delivering excellence and the best customer service within our industry, continuing to put the customers at the focus of our business.
And, the story continues…
By Ben Hirst, CEO