Interview: Ground Guards outline US expansion plan
By Lewis Tyler26 June 2023
Speaking with IRN deputy editor Lewis Tyler, Laurie Luke, managing director of Ground Guards, and John White, UK sales and export manager, discuss the company’s move into the US market.
Could you tell us about the move into the US market?
JW: We invested in two US shows this year, the ARA show in February, and ConExpo in May.
The feedback that we were getting from both rental companies and users at these shows was very encouraging.
Our market entry price point was proving to be very interesting to a lot of the bigger and smaller players out in the US market.
So that qualified what we knew already and gave us the confidence to wholesale expand into the North American market. It’s going to be an exciting time for us.
Are there any indications as to the extent of that growth?
JW: We’ve got a well-planned road map that we are executing as we speak, but the first signs are very encouraging.
We’re still communicating and developing those relationships that we got from ARA and ConExpo.
The stock is arriving as we speak and all of the connections and interest from those shows are waiting for us to be able to deploy all of these first orders.
How long has the plans for expansion in North America been in place?
JW: Laurie had already begun developing the US market over a number of years. It’s a huge market and some of the other markets that we enter, they’re not particularly familiar with modern ground protection solutions.
It’s a relatively new product and concept and you’re often up against old methods, older ways of doing things with a slight reluctance to change. However, the US market is incredibly well educated and developed.
The secret for us in entering the US market is having the stock available on the ground, being flexible in the eyes of the user and the customer and showing them that the product that we are offering, supported by our services, will give them the right partner and the right product.
So yes, we have always earmarked the US as a bit of an opportunity for us.
In terms of the move, where will your facilities be based and what stock will they hold?
LL: The first facility is in Folcroft, Pennsylvania. As well as stocking an existing product, EnviroMat, which is the 4ft by 8ft by 0.5in thick mat, we also have a completely unique product that no one in North America has, MaxiTrack which is a 3ft by 6ft 1in thick overlapping mat product which fulfils a really unique niche.
JW: That product (MaxiTrack) was born over three or four years of development and evolution and by speaking and listening to the feedback offered by the customer and adding a little bit of finesse to the design.
It has a very successful, proven track record in the UK market where it has filled the niche in the market and has brought many efficiencies into site operations. So, we knew that the product works in the market.
Have you received any major orders so far?
JW: Yes, we have a few in the bag that are pending and waiting for stock. We are already engaging and having discussions with some of the big renters over in the US and also in Canada.
LL: I think a lot of it is not necessarily about the product, we can add some value by being that smaller, nimbler, more agile and more responsive company.
Are you anticipating the US to become your biggest source of revenue?
LL: It’s very difficult to say since we operate two businesses in the UK: a hire division and a sales division. The hire division is growing exponentially due to substantial investment this year, quadrupling our hire fleet.
All three markets will progress simultaneously, with the intention of the largest market dominating. While the US market is expected to expand quickly, it’s difficult to determine without actual trading history. Only time will reveal the true outcome.