Clee Hill Plant is a leading UK construction plant hire specialist with head offices in Derbyshire and eight additional depots spanning the length and breadth of Britain. They’re the country’s largest compaction and surface dressing hire company and have been servicing customers in construction, civil engineering and highways for over half a century. Following a decade of growth, Clee Hill now boasts a team of 80 and a fleet of over 2,000 machines as it continues to expand strategically.
A customer-first ethic means that Clee Hill is continually developing its offering to align with evolving customer needs and expectations – prioritising modern services, high-quality equipment and reliable delivery. They’ve always been a company engaged with technology, IT and its value, so when they reached a certain size, they quickly realised that leveraging IT was essential to success.
“About three years ago, Clee Hill was entering another wave of expansion marked by an increased need for enhanced technologies”, shares Michael Parker, IT Manager at Clee Hill. “Unless we made changes, we’d be at risk of IT being unable to support our customers and therefore really damage our competitiveness”.
“For our customers, having access to services – such as on-call repairs and urgent bookings – is critical. The nature of our products sees them deployed in high-pressure, heavily-regulated environments such as runways, residential highways and commercial construction sites, so potential lacklustre performance or an outage can have serious consequences and a significant knock-on effect”.
Michael continues. “As a hire operative with multiple sites and many machines, communication is key to profitable trading and customer service. Everything from accurate logging of equipment condition at handover and communications between account managers to capture booking opportunities relies on smooth, powerful IT. We identified that to retain our momentum, our tech needed to match our ambition”.
“It’s also important to note the strict continuity protocols that govern our customer’s industries”. Michael tells. “A significant proportion of Clee Hill business is acquired via tenders, of which entail guaranteed service levels. Assuring that our IT set-up is watertight is critical to winning contracts – and investment decisions are very much shaped by this”.
Proactive action for future success
These factors spurred Michael to take proactive action. “I knew that more modern and powerful systems, apps and solutions were in order but needed expert help in realising the future Clee Hill”, Michael continues. “For us, there was only one place to turn – Starcom.
“Over a 15 year-strong history, we’ve formed a close relationship which sees us work as a united team day in, day out. I knew I could rely on them to deliver the ideas, technology and support to get Clee Hill in our strongest ever position. There was no question about Starcom being an integral part of this whole process”.
Following consultations with strategical and technical advisors, the two parties agreed on a solution appropriate for Clee Hill’s specific challenges and aspirations in the marketplace.
Upgrading, adapting and streamlining
The first stage of an ambitious three-step project was a server update and virtualisation. Starcom implemented a new server environment for Clee Hill using leading VMWare, Veeam and Microsoft Server OS software and updated all infrastructure from on-premise to cloud.
This highly-available, high performance and resilient solution could cope with 80+ users and the diverse requirements of business-critical applications, including rental management and call logging systems. To maximise existing hardware, colleagues accessed the server remotely via RDP.
“Moving from physical servers to a virtualised environment has allowed Clee Hill to upgrade and adapt instantly and removed worries about ageing hardware or unsecured networks,” Michael says. “It’s also increased the speed and accuracy by which we operate. For example, when on site, teams photograph equipment in real time. Pictures are transferred to the server and automatically added to the customer’s internal account. This quick and easy process – which protects us against unnecessary damages costs – wouldn’t be possible without the Starcom solution.
Protecting service, productivity and profitability
Secondly came a best-in-class disaster recovery solution. Architected bespoke by Starcom , this included a dual database, backup and replication to an additional server at a second Clee Hill site. Now should disaster strike, the company can be back up and running within the hour.
“DR doesn’t just protect service, productivity and profitability”, Michael explains. “It’s non-negotiable for winning new business, too. With multiple plants, departments, business functions and wide customer geography, I have a lot of IT accountability, but now I’m confident and don’t need to worry”.
Championing communication and collaboration
Finally, Starcom set up Office 365 for all users, equipping Clee Hill with the communication and collaboration tools essential in any competitive and growing organisation.
“This project has put us in a tangibly stronger position as a business and given me the freedom to focus on digital transformation, efficiencies and new projects”, Michael reports. “My long history with Starcom is based on their understanding of us, our IT challenges and their flexibility. It really is a great relationship – collaborative, friendly and trustworthy. We’re a team”.
Starcom provide infrastructure and server support as standard but go the extra mile when Michael needs a hand. “As an IT Manager, I have the day-to-day covered. However, when I’m on holiday, the team step in to assist with desktop support and they even mediate between various other providers. I can’t imagine receiving such genuine willingness to help anywhere else”.
Starcom looks forward to working with Clee Hill look on future projects, including an exciting new application, and continuing to support the IT team.