The company has seen rapidly increasing demand for its services this year from retirement and social housing projects. It currently has more than 20 live sites across the northwest.
“We are having to hire in a lot of machines at present,” says construction director Neil Barnes (pictured above, on the right). “We aim to own 80% and hire 20% but we’re way off that at the moment. We are one of the busiest civils companies in the northwest right now.
Civils & Construction Solutions has more than 130 staff but remains a family business. Neil’s brother Phil Barnes is managing director and wife Leanne is finance director. Commercial Director Scott Hickford is a family friend.
They operate a fleet of 25 machines, with excavators from 1.5-tonnes through to 35-tonnes, a road haulage fleet of tippers and low-loaders and a range of smaller equipment. Since its formation 12 years ago, the company has invested more than £1.5m with its local Case dealer Dennis Barnfield Ltd.
“We started out with a few used machines from various manufacturers,” says Neil Barnes. “We became friends with area sales manager Kevin Johnson from Dennis Barnfield Ltd and purchased our first two new Case CX145D short radius excavators in 2018. We were massively impressed with them and went on to buy a Case CX245D short radius excavator.”
(That's Kevin Johnson in the picture above, on the right, with Neil Barnes on the left.)
Since that time the company has bought Case excavators up to the 35-tonne CX350D and was the first customer in the UK to order a 9-tonne CX90D. The business has now moved on to its first Case E-Series excavators, with four new 13-tonne CX130Es being delivered over the coming weeks.
The CX130E is the smallest of Case’s recently-introduced E-Series crawler excavator models but shares many of the features of its larger stablemates.
“The cab on the E-Series machines is more roomy for our operators, with a better and larger control panel screen, but they’ve always been a top notch machine,” says Mr Barnes.
“You need the manoeuvrability in residential work. The CX130E and CX145D are the most popular machines on site for us, while the larger models like the CX245D are used for deeper drainage work and for heavy lifting, for trench boxes and larger pipe sections.”
All of the service and maintenance work is carried out by Dennis Barnfield’s service department and the engineers have a WhatsApp group with Civils & Construction Solutions’ operators, allowing them to contact the dealer whenever they need.
“It looks after itself and it works really well,” he says. “We buy a machine and it gets a driver and that’s it. The machine is parked up if the driver is on holiday and the dealer performs all the maintenance on the machines. Nine times out of ten we sell them back to Dennis Barnfield and the resale values have been very good. They are a sought-after product.”