Bristol-based Municipal Hire Services can trace its origins back to 1840, but growth did not take off until 1998 when the management staged a buyout backed by 3i, the venture-capital firm.
From 245 vehicles in 1998, the company now has more than 3,500 specialised vehicles such as road sweepers and refuse collectors that can be hired for periods of up to 15 years. Local councils account for 80% of its customers. Profits have grown 43% a year from £2m in 1999 to £5.8m in 2002.
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