Horizon Platforms Blog

MEWP hire Oz-Style: Exchanging Ideas

By Kelly Burgess, Cross Hire Manager

I’m fortunate enough to be taking part in an exchange trip to Australia this month. Thanks to funding from Horizon Platforms and Access Safety Management Ltd, I’m spending three weeks on the other side of the World in the company of MEWP hire professionals and industry experts. I’m hoping to gain an insight into how the work-at-height industry operates in another country and see what lessons can be learned and perhaps, pass on a few pearls of wisdom of my own. Let the adventure begin…

Day 23:

Today I made my way to Brisbane for the long flight home. I’m coming home! The beautiful scenery reminds me I need to thank some beautiful people…

Chris Wraith – I will be forever in your debt for creating such an opportunity. You are one in a million. Thank you so much!

My boss Ben Hirst – thank you for allowing me the time to go to Australia, for your continued support and checking in to make sure I was OK. This meant a lot to me. Again, I am forever in your debt.

My work children in cross hire at Horizon – your efforts to strive to be better meant that I could go for this opportunity. You always make me proud and even more so since I have been away. Having such a strong and driven team meant that I could go away knowing everything was going to be OK, so thank you.

My chosen family (Craig and Chloe) – thank you both for being so supportive. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have considered applying for this exchange programme, and for that I am so grateful.

The rest of my colleagues from Horizon – thank you for your words of encouragement and for supporting my team while I have been away.

Last, but not least, the Kennards team – thank you for making me feel so welcome and for everything you have done for me. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something I will never forget.

Thanks for reading.
Kelly x

Day 22:

Today is my last day at Kennards, and it’s come around so quickly! We were hit by high winds and pouring rain last night, so the office is really quiet. Apparently when this happens the state stays in bed for the day. After two phone calls in two hours, I offer to wash the machines because I can’t sit doing nothing any longer.

The lads are taking me out tonight for a send-off before I head home. It’s crazy how fast this has gone. Goodbye Kennards Access branch – you’ve been amazing and I will miss you all!

Day 21:

Today I got to go into the city with Harry. I can’t wait to see the really busy Melbourne branches, and I will get to meet some of the people I’ve been speaking to on the phone.

I got to see some sights while doing the rounds, and to finish the day off I went to the beach for the last time to catch the sunset.

Day 20:

I am rocking the hire desk at the access branch again today! On the phones the three questions policy they have is proving to work really well. The customer asked me for the machine they wanted, and by asking three questions about the job I managed to find them a cheaper machine. They hadn’t realised there was a smaller machine that would do for them. Saving the customer money and freeing up machines for the customers that need the bigger ones – win win.

Day 19:

Arrived at the depot and we crack on with the Move For Life, which I’m not feeling so awkward about now. Harry took me out to see a few other branches, so I get to the Clayton brach just in time to go out for a delivery.

On the way back we receive a call to say we need to take a 19es to JLG for repair, and then get another delivery come through for a mini digger. Funny little things! After another collection, I arrived back to a branch inspection being conducted, which have to happen within a particular number of days. A busy day.

Day 16-18:

On Saturday, after completing the boring task of washing my clothes, there was only one thing for it… off to the beach! After a walk to the next town I eventually arrived at the quiet beach, with just me, the sound of the waves and a jellyfish for company!

Only one week to go and I will be on my way back home. Really missing my family now. On Sunday I headed to the beach for more sunshine… the Aussies think I’m crazy sunbathing as they walk around in woolly hats and coats! The weekend was rounded off with a charity fundraiser with some of the guys.

I spent the Queen’s birthday holidays cooking, going to the shops and getting my hair chewed by the naughty doggies. Little tinkers they are.

Day 15:

I got a treat when I was told that Monday will be a national holiday because it’s the Queen’s birthday. Today is the first bit of rain I’ve seen since I arrived and it’s had an effect on the phones. It’s very quiet. Most of the today has been dealing with people requesting stand downs – or suspensions.

Day 14:

It’s 6am in Melbourne and I’m struggling to open my eyes this morning. Arrived at the depot and the sun is starting to make an appearance. It’s time for day two on the phones.

I managed to talk a customer through a breakdown on a 450aj. He had the machine slewed too far round for the machine to drive. I asked him to flick the slew switch on the right hand side and this allowed him to drive his machine. Still spreading the joy, but in Australia not the UK! Same day hires are coming through thick and fast today – 100% success rate so far.

This might be the last day at the Dandenong branch. I could be heading out to another branch next week with the area manager. Exciting. After a busy day assisting with breakdowns, same day hires, moving machines and hires for tomorrow, I am signing off for the day.

Catch! (Aussie for bye) x

Day 13:

After the Move For Life I was given an introduction to the systems and how they operate, and after this basic training I was let loose on the phones. I still can’t get over these amazing views.

I watched the branch manager conduct the month ends and learnt a lot about the differences in our pricing. After work I decided to go for a walk to unwind. So glad I did…

Day 12:

It’s 6.15am and my uniform on – I’m not cheating on your Horizon, I promise! Today I went to my first site survey. Afterwards we headed to a doughnut place to treat the kids back at the yard. Take a look at the selection!

On the way to the next site survey and the customer wants his roof painting, so we recommend a z45. I spent a lot of time with the Zebra machine – incredible piece of kit. And what view from the office. I have been they want me to pitch in on the phones tomorrow. I will get to place orders on the system and speak to their lovely customers.

Day 11:

My 5am alarm is a bit of a shock to the system! My first day at Kennards and I am at work by 6.35am, ready to gather with the others for a warm-up session called Move For Life – something that is compulsory every morning.

My company car for two weeks is a Ute! I had a tour of the depot and got some background information about the company. Kennards is a family-run business and started out in 1948 when a neighbour asked Walter Kennard if they could borrow a cement mixer…

I have been taking plenty of notes and observations and had a go at driving some booms. I even identified a problem on a Skyjack 3226. They guys back home at Horizon would have been proud! After a long day, it’s time for food and bed.

Day 9 & 10:

My first rest days since I arrived and my first proper weekend in Australia!


It’s the second day of winter here but still a lovely morning – a fresh 5c compared to the 14c in Brisbane. I met my host Lorretta last night and this morning I was greeted by her and Hallie and Lenny, the Dachshunds. I headed to the beach, careful not to stand on any snakes I’d been warned about!

By the time I got to the beach it was a warm 10c, and I had chance to have a little play. The evening was rounded off with a bit of David Attenborough and a nice glass of red in my PJs. Awesome.


After a quick catch up with the guys at work, I headed to do the big food shop at Woolworths with Lorinda. After, I went for another walk to the beach. Even though it’s supposed to only be 11c I am roasting! The locals are dressed up in scarves and coats. I had a paddle in the sea… it’s my favourite place to be. Heading to bed at 7pm after a lamb stir fry and rum and ginger beer. My alarm is set for 5am and tomorrow is my first day of work at Kennards. Let’s do this!

Day 8:

Morning all. Here we go. Melbourne-bound. Exciting! I’ll be meeting Alex when I get there and will be given my temporary uniform and… a car. Mmm, driving over here should be interesting to say the least!

After a 2.5 hour flight I’ve landed safe and sound. Melbourne is so different to Brisbane… it’s really rural but next to the beach. Beautiful. Harry has kindly taken Alex and I out for tea, still not met Loretta but heard plenty about her and really looking forward to meeting.

Day 7:

Well chaps, today is my final day in Brisbane so this morning I am in a leadership seminar playing usher. The speaker is incredible. Her name is Rachel Robertson and she is the youngest person to ever lead a team to the Antarctic. She led no less than 120 people to the Antarctic and got them home safely. Amazing. Her theories on leadership are very simple but they work. This lady had inspired me to buy her book via Audible. It’s called ‘Leading on the Edge’. I will pass on the feedback when I’ve worked my way though it.

We’re finishing slightly earlier today because it’s awards night. Can’t wait for the big gala event! Not sure how I am going to get my feet into the heels though. Managed to take a sneaky peek at the hall – wow!


Day 7 continued…Awards Night was just amazing! Some very well-deserved winners and some emotional goodbyes – been told I’d better return to see them! Thank you so much to the EWPA, HRIA and Brisbane! You’ve been awesome and I hope I managed to spread a little extra cheer!

Day 6:

I attended the breakfast for women in the access industry. The speaker was Niaomi Simpson, an entrepreneur who features on a TV show called Shark Tank. Really interesting stuff. From there I went to listen to some of the keynote speakers in the main exhibition hall – privileged to listen to such inspirational people – then I was on usher duties, mainly scanning people into the show. Tina made an appearance and brought a smile to the faces of the lovely HRIA convention visitors! I also found out that it’s the 35th anniversary of JLG in Australia – congratulations guys!


Bumped into some people I met last night and they are really, really interested in finding out more about Horizon Platforms. They absolutely love the idea of our values and were incredibly impressed with our purpose! Even had further invites to see other companies down in Melbourne! They would love to come visit us in the UK! I’m even more excited to spend some time with the guys at Kennards Hire!

We will be packing up shortly and heading to the Sky Bar for an evening hosted by Skyjack. Here’s the view from the Sky Bar. Not bad at all!

Day 5:

After breakfast, we headed off to the exhibition centre to prep for the start of the show tomorrow. I stuffed 200 bags, familiarised myself with the programme and FAQs and registered for the event. Feeling very special as I have not one but two lanyards: a gold one because I am working with the EWPA and a white one as I am an international guest. Horizon Platforms down under!


I attended the EWPA Global Access meeting which was really interesting and learned that EWPA is very similar to IPAF. The Australians have a yellow card and we have the Pal card. EWPA is currently working with manufacturers and site workers for advice with the secondary guard. I’ve just seen demos from Skyjack, Genie and Snorkel. I met Harry from Kennards Hire who is a real character. Currently winding down with the team. Morale is really great; it reminds me of home and my Horizon family! Really looking forward to tomorrow – Tina the piñata is too.  Just look how safety conscious she is!

Day 4:

As I went down for breakfast, I spotted some gentlemen who worked for Kennards Hire, the company who will be hosting me. I plucked up the courage to introduce myself and ended up having breakfast with them. What a nice bunch! It turns out they are having their leadership meeting at the hotel I am staying in. Went for another stroll and saw some beautiful gardens. On my way back to the hotel I spotted some more booms which were being used to prune the trees. How versatile these machines are!


In the afternoon, I met up with James who took me to the HIRE18 show venue, introduced me to the rest of EWPA team and explained what I’ll be doing to help out. It’s all very exciting! Went out for dinner with the team who are just fabulous. We entered a quiz and won $100 dollar but for some strange reason the guys wanted the 4th prize… a piñata full of sweets which we named Tina. She will be on the stand with us tomorrow. Wow, what an end to a busy day!

Day 3:

After brekkie, I decided to have a little walk. Fittingly, I spotted a boom opposite the hotel! I also stumbled across these lovely scenes, including the Brisbane Wheel by day


Later that day…an Aussie busker named Dusty – who was pretty good by the way – thought I was Irish and decided to tell the whole crowd. Oh dear. l also came across a park which was packed full of families having BBQs and an outdoor pool, man-made beach and play area which are all free to use. I’ve opted for an early night for my first meet with James and the rest of the gang from the EWPA tomorrow. Night, night

Day 2:

Not at all tired as I slept on the plane so I decided to go for a walk – I’m so glad I did. Bumped into a nice local who took me to me to a few bars and met some lovely people. Here’s me ‘blending in’, oh, and the Brisbane Wheel at night

Day 1:

After a seriously long and very hot flight via Dubai, I’ve finally arrived in Brisbane. Delighted to be back on terra firma