Crash cushion success for Blakedale

Self-drive hire specialist Blakedale is celebrating record sales and growth after successfully launching a new service in response to customer demand.

BlakedaleThe multi-million pound business, which hires out its Impact Protection Vehicles to local authorities and roadwork operators on a self-drive basis across the UK, has responded to the needs of the market and diversified into building bespoke new vehicles for customers to buy.

Joint managing director Carmen Bowley said: “We hire out these vehicles and they never seem to come back. When customers then started to approach us to build vehicles specifically for them to buy we knew there was an opportunity here to improve our overall service.”

The Chorley business started out manufacturing motorway marker posts and has thrived over the last 15 years by adapting to customer needs and diversifying into related products and services.

With turnover up 40 per cent in the last year and plans to increase by a further 30 per cent again in the next 12 months it is certainly proving to be a shrewd move.

Carmen added: “When we decided to buy our first crash cushion it was a bit of a gambl, it was during a meeting when a client mentioned that they might soon need new safety provisions when installing our marker posts.

“From there the fuse was lit, we did our homework and subsequently purchased our first crash cushion.

“Now we have approaching 200 vehicles out on hire. We were one of the first specialist self-drive hire companies and now we are keeping ahead of the game by responding to potential legislation and by adapting and evolving our vehicles to exceed guidelines.”

Family business Blakedale was launched in 1999 following the sale of Carmen’s father’s business Fred Smith Street Lighting to the McAlpine Group.

Carmen started off literally making the marker posts by hand and has since grown the business along with her brothers Joint MD and operations director, Richard Smith and finance director, Jonathan Smith. In addition to marker posts and Impact Protection Vehicles, Blakedale also hires out self-contained Mobile Welfare Units for workforce crews on site. The team of 11 office and engineering staff operates from the Mill Lane head office in Chorley.