Member profile: Weightlifter Bodies

28 January 2021 #Uncategorised

Nigel Butler, managing director

Tell us a bit about your business. When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?

Weightlifter Bodies was founded in the 1930s by JB Weightman and remained family owned until 2019. It expanded in 1997 when it acquired PPG Fabrications and now, under Grange Cross ownership, employs 80 people across two sites, in Scunthorpe (Weightlifter) and Wisbech (PPG).

Customers range from farmers to businesses such as Frontier Agriculture, Tarmac and Hargreaves Services.  We have strong relationships with most of the UK truck dealers and work closely with them to deliver the most durable, cost-effective solutions to their customers.

What does the business do?

The company manufactures, supplies and services tipper trailers and rigid tipper bodies, specialising in applications for high payload, durable use. For example, through PPG Fabrications’ capability, Weightlifter Bodies provides aluminium insulated tipper bodies suitable for carrying asphalt.

Weightlifter builds and supplies chassis and bogies to other manufacturers, and 1 in 10 tipper trailers sold in the UK are manufactured by us. Also, around 50% of the insulated rigid tippers sold in the UK come from PPG Fabrications. Due to their need for highly robust bodies, the main industry sectors that we serve are agriculture, construction and scrap steel.

How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?

2020 was, naturally, a challenging year with industry volumes halved year on year for tipping trailers and rigid tippers. However, we are increasing production, restarting production efficiency programmes and hiring new staff. Increased demand means that lead times have begun to extend.

Looking forward, things look promising. Government infrastructure spend will hopefully increase (with continuation of projects such as HS2), and Brexit could well stimulate the UK farming industry to increase volumes.

There is a core level of demand that comes from the need for regular fleet replacements. This, in the medium term, has to be maintained otherwise our customers see ever increasing operating costs.  2020 volumes have been depressed, but we expect a strong bounce back in 2021 and beyond.

What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?

Coming from a low 2020, we hope for a clear stimuli for economic recovery from the government that will be good for business.

Our production facilities enjoy the skills and support of a very strong, experienced and committed team of people, and there is a wide variety of production efficiencies to be refined for the industry.

Weightlifter Bodies’ products are well respected, strong and durable, which helps our customers keep their operating costs under control. There are clear opportunities to grow volumes into associated product segments: steel bulkers and rigid tippers being two segments that we are growing further into.

The group is continuing to expand to meet industry demand in 2021. For example, we now have a leasing and financing business within the group and can provide full-service solutions to our customers, moving us towards a one-stop-shop tipping trailer provider.

Government CO2 commitments will continue to filter through to the industry. Truck manufacturers have and are making massive efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and we have a part to play too. Reducing cab-to-trailer gap challenges, improving airflow and aerodynamics are all areas on which the industry must step up to the plate.

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