TOOL and plant hirer Vibroplant claims to have ushered in a new era in the tool sector with the launch of the Hire Station, its 'fast-track hire service'.
The service sets out to provide a range of equipment, from skips to forklifts from a central desk to customers working round the country on national contracts.
Hire Station managing director Ian Weston said: 'We are aiming at fast- track industries, such as roofing contractors, shopfitters and electrical contractors - anyone looking for a one-stop hire shop, where they don't have to deal with three or four branches for equipment.
'We're taking the burden off people who move from town to town and need equipment.'
The service, which went into full-scale operation this month, aims to cut out all the administration work for customers who know what they want, with transparent catalogue pricing and delivery to and from site at a fixed price. Larger plant from Vibroplant can also be hired alongside the tool hire range.
'We've called it the Hire Station, as every town has a fire station and we aim to provide an emergency service,' Mr Weston said.
The company has even arranged to obtain an 0845 number that ends in 999.
He said the unique point about the service was not being tied to a network of outlets, 'HSS is the nearest example, but not everyone is within easy reach of high street stores.'
The launch of the national operation follows the centralising of Vibroplant's general plant hire operations two years ago, which was aimed at providing a better integrated service to national customers.
Mr Weston agreed a similar aim is at work with the Hire Station. 'Our network of regional tool companies is well-known locally, but customers outside the area have never heard of them. But that doesn't mean we are losing the hire desks,' he added.
The Hire Station is linked into Vibroplant's main computer, customers receive automated fax confirmation of their order and weekly reports of what they have on hire.
'We have a lot of control,' said Mr Weston. 'Traditionally, the customer doesn't know what they are paying until two or three months later when they get the invoice, and that's when there are queries. We'd rather be up front about it.'