A £21m management buy-in in 1999 allowed David Meek to retire from his plant hire business at 58 with £11m in his pocket. Paxcourt, trading as David Meek Group, was originally founded to supply equipment to the construction industry. However, over-reliance on a few road-building clients in the early 1990s led to a dangerous shrink in profits during the recession. In 1992 the Bristol-based company relaunched itself as a supplier of commercial cranes. The cranes offer a safe, quick alternative to scaffolding and ladders and are already widely used in the US for construction and industrial cleaning projects, when people need to work up to 100 feet above the ground. For example, recent hygiene laws mean food wholesalers are required to regularly clean rafters in warehouses. Early entry into this growth market has yielded high margins. David Meek’s profits grew by 43% pa, from £1.2m in 1996 to £3.3m in 1999, while sales rose 21% pa to reach £9.3m.
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