It all began in June 1972, when Patrick Flannery Snr rented out his first JCB 3C backhoe loader from his yard and office at home – mainly to Wimpey Homes projects.
He bought his second JCB 3C exactly one year later and stuck with this type of machine as the company cautiously grew over the next five years.
By the dawn of the 21st century, annual turnover was approaching £4m, and in the year to March 2021 broke that threshold for the first time, turning over £4.4m with a tidy pre-tax profit of £215,000.
Over the next 20 years the company grew exponentially.
Pictured above are Martin Flannery and Patrick Jr in the 1980s. They quite literally grew up in the business and run the company today alongside Patrick Sr, who is now 72.
The key turning point in the growth of Flannery Plant Hire was the opportunity to work on the 2012 Olympic stadium project in London that took three years to complete. Turnover grew from £12m in 2007 to £21m in 2012. Flannery’s profile grew, as did demand for its machines.
Turnover rose rapidly to £36m in 2014, £48m in 2015, £82m in 2017. By 2020, turnover had reached £116m, with a £24m pre-tax profit.
Flannery today has depots nationwide, including the headquarters near Wembley Stadium and satellites in Manchester, Birmingham, Newport, Dublin, Aberdeen and Northumberland.
Its machines can be seen along the length of the HS2 programme, alongside motorways, on Thames Water sites, and (until recently) across London on Crossrail sites.
Flannery now has almost 5,000 units for hire. Numerous top brands are in the fleet – Cat, Komatsu, JCB, Volvo, Bomag and Wacker Neuson – but the machines that bring in the most business, the backbone of the fleet, our its 20-25 tonne Cat excavators.
In recent years it has been at the forefront of embracing digital technology, “finding ways to turn data into meaningful analysis and allowing customers to make hire decisions that deliver the most effective and reliable solutions”, the company says.
“Educating the industry so that the benefits of digital machine control can be made a reality on every construction site is a now a core part of our business,” it says. “We’ve consistently trained and upskilled our team of operators to ensure competency, and our training team can provide training modules both on-machine and using plant simulators.
It has a Digital Construction Training School at its Birmingham depot, with a number of simulators configured with machine guidance and digital control technology, and a field-based training area that holds a fleet of machine guidance and digital control connected machinery.
Each year Flannery continues to invest, committing £120m to fleet renewal this year.
Who know where Flannery will be in 50 years’ time, or what the plant hire sector will look like, but whatever challenges come its way, it looks well placed to meet them head on.