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Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Mon 18 Feb 2019

#Diggingthedream with E. Corr Plant Hire

Taking a look back at another one of my Earthmovers Magazine articles now and bringing it to life on the internet, with this feature on Hertfordshire based E. Corr Plant Hire. 

#Diggingthedream with E. Corr Plant Hire
Like many a young man before him Eugene Corr travelled across to England in the early 1960’s for better work prospects and quickly established himself as a civil engineering contractor primarily engaged in putting up lamp posts. As his workload increased he purchased his first digger which was a Massey Ferguson 50B backhoe loader and a Bedford TK tipper lorry. Current Managing Director Brendan Corr had his first encounter with the MF50B as a 7-year-old youngster when he accidently drove it through the neighbour’s garden fence! But being a plant obsessed young man Brendan went on to cut his teeth on the venerable and much-loved backhoe loader which had by then been joined by a second MF50B. Corr’s big break came when they replied to an advert in the local paper which was encouraging firms to submit their hire rates for plant and machinery, without giving it a second thought they sent in their rates and as they say, the rest is history. With a busy order book in front of them they purchased their very first 360 degree excavator, a second hand, British built 12 tonne class Priestman Mustang 108S which was a popular machine back in the day, but for some reason was often in the shadow of the Hymac’s of those times. Brendan said, “All the stories you hear about these old girls are true, she could be a pig to drive and with the wear in the linkages of the levers you had to have the door open to use it properly, but it was this machine that was the catalyst for our business as we know it today”. In fact, the old Priestman is so fondly remembered by the Corr family, that Brendan has purchased two old machines and a full restoration is being undertaken to make a showroom quality example for displaying at vintage events. In 1986 the company moved on from the old Mustangs when they purchased a brand-new Hitachi UHO63 which was later joined by a larger UH073 model. Keeping a keen eye on machinery available at the time Brendan decided to get big into the Daewoo product and as a company Corr quickly embraced Korean technology. Photo: Courtesy of E. Corr Plant Hire Ltd. They invested in a lot of Daewoo kit and worked closely with them over the coming years. Brendan himself won demonstration operator of the year during the 1993 edition of the SED Show for his work on the Daewoo stand during the 3-day event and went on to work on other projects with the Korean manufacturer including TV work. The company went on to run a significant fleet of Daewoo machines, however following a dealership change to a company who were also running a hire fleet Brendan had a change of heart and started to explore his options. Photo: Courtesy of E. Corr Plant Hire Ltd. Having parted company with Daewoo E. Corr turned to Hyundai to be their preferred supplier of excavators. The first 3 machines were not bought from local dealer Ernest Doe but were purchased from a firm called Mitchell’s, this was mainly due to a long-standing working relationship with the then MF salesman Peter Merritt, this move ruffled a few feathers as it was an out of area sale but things all worked out in the end. Some time later Brendan was in desperate need of a 600mm digging bucket and having previously had no relationship with Doe’s at all he cheekily phoned their legendary salesman Andy Parnham, who coincidently has recently retired, to ask him if he could buy a bucket off him, Andy said no, but I will lend you one and that was the start of a long-term relationship with the Essex based dealer. Brendan said, “We bought our next Hyundai from Doe’s and we now estimate we have purchased over 80 machines from them since, most of our deals were done with Andy, but Rob Freestone who took over the role following Andy retiring has stepped up to dealing with us and so far, we have bought 6 from him this year”. The company’s association with Hyundai started with the old Dash-3 models with the first one arriving around 1998-99 and as Brendan explained it was a bit of an odd one, an R 250-3 to be exact of which there were not many built, this was followed by the more popular R 210-3 and R 130-3, these were later joined an R 160W-3 wheeled excavator and a R 160-3 on tracks. The company then had a fleeting romance with Fiat-Hitachi, Brendan takes up the story, “At the time we had one operator who if you cut him in half, he would bleed Hitachi orange, in his eyes there was nothing could compete with them, anyway by this time the new Dash-7 Hyundai’s had come out and in all fairness they were a massive step up in terms of operator comfort and performance. Andy Parnham offered us a R 210-7 on demonstration and told me to put the Hitachi operator on it, to cut a long story short after a few hours on the new Hyundai it had converted him to the merits of the Korean brand and from that day on have been virtually all Hyundai across the fleet except for the odd model size they don’t do, but from 1.6 tonnes up we are 100% Hyundai with the current fleet numbering 42 excavators and one Hyundai shovel”. The company does not run any conventional tail swing 14 tonners, preferring to run zero tail swing models in that size range, “We find that zero tail swing machines make life a lot easier, in terms of rear end damage, plus they allow us to move them with a 9-tonne dumper on the same load further cutting down on transport movements” said Brendan. Brendan had nothing but praise for the Hyundai product, “They have been great machines for us, with touch wood, no real major problems, apart from the odd swing motor and hydraulic oil leak but that’s it”. “Their back up is second to none, I always relate back to when we were running the old R 250-3 that was demo specced to run a shear. It was due to go out to a site on the Monday, but the computer kept going to error, after  few calls to Hyundai in Belgium, they said right, there will be a guy arriving at Stansted airport this afternoon at 3pm, can you pick him up, he came to our yard, plugged in the laptop, sourced the problem, fixed it and was then back on the plane to Belgium a few hours later, well in my book you couldn’t ask for much more, both Hyundai and Doe’s are always there to help us out as customers”. Brendan said that all his operators appreciate the high specification cabs which all feature air conditioning, Bluetooth and comfortable seating and the AAVM camera system is 100% bang on and a real selling point with some of the major contractors. As a general observation Brendan feels like we are going full circle on the machine front, “We evolved with machines getting bigger and more powerful but now we seem to be going back down the scale with these lower powered engines” he said. Brendan believes that Hyundai need to bring out an intelligent machine control version of its excavators along the lines of Komatsu’s well received models, he states that the market for such machines is very strong especially in the 14 tonne, 21 tonne and 30 tonne class ranges. Indications are that Hyundai are working on machine guidance systems for its machines with one of the leading GPS players. Brendan said, “We are really pushing GPS guidance technology and all the latest HX models we have purchased recently have been fitted with them”. Talking about the general state of the industry at the moment Brendan said, “We are very busy at the moment and the market is buoyant, however, you do need to be at the front of the queue, the old saying “shy kids get on sweets” is very true, so you need to keep pushing your business, because if you stand back, someone else will do it!” “The general hire market is tough, with the big national players being so dominant, as such we have to offer something different, like operated plant with very little self-drive, employing around 56 people we aim to offer a one stop shop scenario here at E. Corr”. THE RECYCLING YARD Part of E. Corr’s yard is dedicated to a recycling operation and there was no shortage of Hyundai machines all emblazoned with the Corr brand name in in big black lettering which can be seen for miles around. Brendan told us more about the operation, “It just spawned from our sister construction business really, they use our lorries and its essentially a load out in the morning and one back in the evening for free. Like the rest of our business it started off small and has just grown and grown to the point that we now run two crushers here full time and a 3rd out on our own demo jobs or on hire”. “It works well for us, if we are quiet on the hire front the guys can go and process some material, the yards offer’s us so much flexibility, so that there is no down time, even on the rainiest of days you can crush and process concrete”. In a quiet corner of the yard Brendan showed me a working project to restore a British built Priestman Mustang 108S which as mentioned earlier in this story was the companies first ever hydraulic excavator. There are actually two of these machines in the yard with the ultimate aim to make a showroom quality restoration out of the two, I sincerely hope to make a return visit to see the completed item for this magazine in the not too distant future.

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