County Pumps was founded in 1977 by Ted Etty and a partner, who has since moved on to set up an independent venture. Both were experienced pump service engineers, that recognised the need for a specialist support focused on commercial installations.
Operating initially from a garage workshop near Banbury, the partners were kept busy providing quick fix repairs for road transport and haulage firms. This led to some new installs and the opportunity to trade up to preventative maintenance. The business continued to evolve by developing a solid customer base for regular contract servicing which formed the basis for the respected national company that we see today.
Still located near to Banbury, the company moved in 1991 into its current office – workshop premises in West Street, Shutford. The workshop provides space for the storage of spares and bench facilities used mainly for pipework, fittings and pump re-builds. Although most installation work is done on site, some assembly and checking of key components is carried in-house to save time and ensure that the mobile teams are fully prepared for each new project.
Ted Etty continues his involvement as joint managing director and chairman. The original office manager, Anne Rodda became joint managing director. Board members Alison Newport, Sales Director and James Rodda, Engineering Director are responsible for day-to-day operations.
[quote]We are happy to continue our relationship with Merridale because this endorses our commitment to providing quality and reliability in everything we do.[/quote]
Currently the main workforce comprises six engineers on the road. Dan Gillbanks leads business development and there are four admin staff dealing with enquiries and scheduling work.
“Since we are providing a support role it is important to maintain a good working relationship with the key equipment vendors,” explains Alison Newport.”
“By definition our commercial interests depend on sound engineering standards. Margins do not allow for return visits to fix faulty equipment. We have never compromised on build quality and we stake our reputation on the performance of the equipment we install.”
Alison continues: “We have earned a good reputation because we always recommend the finest possible specifications. To achieve this we must have close relationships with all the key equipment suppliers.”
“Our relationship with MIS Fuel Monitoring goes back to the early Nineties with commercial pumps. After 2000, the emphasis shifted to data recording as the transport industry became more aware of rising fuel costs and the need for better stock management and security. This heralded a new generation of electronic dispensers and for about seven years business was brisk as the major fleet operators equipped or updated their existing depot fuelling facilities.”
“The current outlook looks promising and we can see some signs of confidence returning as enquiries for new installations are on the increase. The major difference is the time taken before enquiries convert to orders. Currently this is around 18 months or so, whereas in former times a new customer would call for a price for a tank and this would be acknowledged by an order placed and within four weeks the job would be installed – done and dusted.”
“Most new installations now involve a formal tender process which takes up more time. We are also putting extra effort into providing technical proposals and meeting tender requirements for information and credentials.”
“Over the last four to five months there has been a shift towards health and safety. There is more concern about details on how to improve on hoses and things that would protect them as a business. Cost saving practices is also important as these pressures are being channelled down from above. Basically our customers are looking at all areas in order to make improvements, wherever possible.”
“Security has become a major concern, especially for smaller operators with fuelling points exposed to public spaces. We are being asked to provide additional security by adding tank bolts and sockets and physical measures to protect the tanks.”
Relationship with Merridale
Alison continues: “Our first major project with Merridale came about because one of our service customers, a national express parcels group, purchased 14 second hand systems. These were refurbished and together with some new equipment, these were installed together with Merridale Fuel FX software at a number of their depots during 2003.
“The trial went well for Merridale and in view of our good relationship as the existing provider of maintenance services, we were invited to form a partnership for this client, which we did and that led to a satisfactory relationship which is on-going,” said Alison Newport.
This was underlined by Merridale sales director Stephen Hannan, who was involved from the start of this project. “There was always a clear distinction in roles between Merridale as the equipment vendor and County Pumps as the Service support provider – and I am pleased to say that this has forged a good relationship over the following years,” he said.
County Pumps sales manager, Dan Gillbanks joined the discussion saying: “It was a milestone event in our history because previously we hadn’t got involved with the stock control and management reports side of things. Merridale respected our position as a partner and provided the training we needed to support their products and it worked well right from the start.”
“We are happy to continue our relationship with Merridale because this endorses our commitment to providing quality and reliability in everything we do.”