We pride ourselves on having a high-quality, driven, conscientious and loyal workforce. We expect our staff to outperform consistently and in return, we invest heavily in their training and development as well as aiming to offer them superior reward and benefits. Our employees are a key component of our competitive advantage because of the high quality service they provide to our customers. Both Sunbelt and A-Plant have extensive programmes in place to ensure high standards of recruitment, training, levels of customer service and the appraisal, review and reward of our employees.
We use a wide variety of means to recruit the right people including local community agencies and contacts, minority and women's organisations, colleges and job fairs. We also aim to provide local jobs for local people. Employing the right people is nowhere more important than at trainee level. For example, A-Plant's three-year apprenticeship scheme is one of the most successful in the industry and is always heavily oversubscribed. We also have a good record of retaining our apprentices at the conclusion of the programme. Ashtead Board member and A-Plant chief executive, Sat Dhaiwal, started out as an apprentice small plant fitter and in the box opposite we profile another graduate from our apprenticeship scheme.
In Sunbelt, one of our most successful initiatives has been our work with the US military providing opportunities for quality veteran recruits looking to apply some of the skills they have learnt to a civilian career. They bring leadership and people skills and an ability to work under pressure - skills that are only gained through experience. Sunbelt is a top 50 military employer.
Hiring highly qualified technicians for our business can be challenging. To remedy this, Sunbelt has partnered with the Universal Technical Institute in the US to identify and hire top technicians.
Career development and training
Training and development continues throughout the careers of our employees. Their welfare and job satisfaction is enormously important to us and our career development programmes are designed to enable staff to progress as far as they are able and willing. Particular emphasis is placed on the responsibilities of our store managers and workshop foremen to facilitate on-the- job training. Significant numbers of our employees remain with us for most of their careers, something which is increasingly uncommon. Several of our most senior staff started out at entry level within our stores and their continuity of employment is testament to our focus on employee development. You can find out more about training initiatives in our annual report.
Reward and benefits
We motivate and reward our people through a combination of competitive fixed pay and attractive incentive programmes. Our sales force is also incentivised through commission plans which are based on sales volume and a broad measure of return on investment determined by reference to equipment type and discount level. We maintain flexibility in these incentive plans to reflect changes in the economic environment. We believe this was an important element in retaining the confidence of our workforce through the recession.
In addition to their core benefits, including pension and life insurance arrangements, we have an employee assistance helpline which offers free confidential support and advice to those in need.
Diversity and equal opportunities
At Ashtead we work hard to ensure equal opportunities for all our staff, as well as prioritising employment diversity. We recruit predominantly from the areas immediately around our facilities thereby providing opportunities for local people. We make every reasonable effort to give disabled applicants and existing employees becoming disabled, opportunities for work, training and career development in keeping with their aptitudes and abilities. We do not discriminate against any individual on the basis of a protected status, such as sex, colour, race, religion, native origin or age.
Ours is mainly a male workforce but nonetheless, we have women at all levels in both the US and UK including on the Board, on the senior management team, as store managers, sales executives and apprentices. Women make up 9% of our workforce. We are committed to providing excellent training and career paths for all employees who work at Ashtead.
In the US we are required by law to monitor ethnicity in our workforce every year and we maintain a diverse workforce. We also gather ethnicity data as part of the recruitment process in the UK and through an Equality and Inclusion Survey, to monitor our diversity. Increasingly many local authority and public sector tenders request this kind of information. We are committed to providing opportunities for people from all ethnic groups and in both geographies we have good representation from ethnic minorities across the organisation.
Employee spotlight: Tyler Lloyd
Tyler Lloyd, aged 20, is a plant maintenance apprentice currently in the third year of his A-Plant apprenticeship. He works in our Newcastle service centre, attending college on a block release basis and has been described by depot manager, Tony Holland, as the absolute “model apprentice”. As well as working for A-Plant, Tyler is a talented and dedicated natural bodybuilder. In fact, although he has only been bodybuilding for just four years, he was declared a British Champion in October 2017. He trains every day at 5.30am before work without fail. Tyler has a similar dedication to completing his apprenticeship at A-Plant and he has quickly earned an enviable reputation as a very mature, methodical, professional young man who is a credit to the company.
Veteran spotlight: Melissa Spangler
Melissa is a former member of the Virginia Air National Guard and currently an outside sales representative in Seattle. Safety has always been an important cornerstone of Melissa’s career. Her duties with the Air National Guard included managing safety programmes and continuing education of new safety requirements. When she was deployed to Thumrait Air Base in Oman, she supervised and assisted as an engineering technician in a multi-million-dollar taxiway construction project. Joining the team at Sunbelt was a natural transition for Melissa after serving in the military. She was eager to use her construction industry knowledge on the job at Sunbelt. “The opportunities within Sunbelt Rentals are endless, especially given the current growth path,” she says.
Employee spotlight: Diego Arcila Palacio
Diego joined Sunbelt in 2005 at the age of 18. He started as a cargo technician then held various sales roles including equipment rental specialist, outside sales representative and profit centre manager. He is now district sales manager for the South Florida district. He has many responsibilities, overseeing outside sales reps and equipment rental specialists, managing the district’s key accounts, visiting major projects and upcoming projects with his team, working through bids and training his team on how to use technology to drive success. What he likes most about his job is that he’s never doing the same thing. “The fact that Sunbelt empowers us to really go out there and earn our customers’ business is really powerful. The company is always going to back me up, and the customer can see it. Sunbelt has been great to me and my family. Looking back on my career and seeing all that our team has accomplished, I get a huge sense of pride in that I’ve been able to help my team. We promote from within, which is huge. I see guys like myself move through the ranks just like me.”