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Construction: Meet the expert

Nigel Clayton recently joined our Construction and Recycling team as an Area Sales Manager. Here he shares his thoughts about his role and discusses the economic pressures affecting the industry.

Tell us about your work history…

After A Levels, I joined Midland Bank (now HSBC) where I stayed for eight years. I then started work with North West Securities in my first non-specialist asset finance sales role. After eight years, I joined Sovereign Finance, also in a generalist asset finance sales role. Following redundancy, Barclays Asset Finance offered me a position looking after their own-banked commercial customers and their asset finance requirements.

I then worked as a broker for a number of years before Paccar Finance employed me in a specialist commercial vehicle finance role.

This brings me to Close Brothers Asset Finance where I specialise in asset finance for the construction, waste & recycling, and agriculture industries.

How does your industry experience help you in your current role as an Area Sales Manager?

I’ve brought 32 years of asset finance sales experience with me to Close Brothers Asset Finance. I already know many of our customers and have a strong network of contacts that I can call on.

My preference is for face-to-face interaction with our customers, which fits very well with the ethos here. In a previous role I was encouraged to transact deals over the phone or via email but fortunately that’s no longer the case and I much prefer this type of interaction. Visiting customers and talking to them about their business – that’s what I enjoy most about the role.

What technological developments have you witnessed in the field of plant and machinery?

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen a growth in smaller plant and equipment becoming battery powered, at the expense of diesel; this includes solar generators to recharge the batteries.

This is because of higher emissions standards, particularly in inner city developments.

We have a customer who’s working in rail and they recharge their generators during the day for the night shift. We’re also seeing solar night lights that are charged during the day to allow for overnight work.

There was also the recent trial announced in Sheffield, where the local waste collecting firm has converted two diesel lorries into electrically powered vehicles. The scheme will repurpose existing waste lorries and turn them into electric vehicles powered by energy made by burning the rubbish they can't recycle. Household waste collected by these new lorries will be taken to the Energy Recovery Facility and here the waste will be burnt in an incinerator situated underneath a large boiler, which generates steam to power a turbine.

Are any economic pressures affecting the plant and machinery sector?

The high street banks have readjusted their lending criteria and risk indicators, making funding more difficult to get hold of. There are also a number of funders who have pulled out of asset financing altogether. While Brexit has somewhat slowed the market, it remains buoyant and we’re seeing a spike in our sector lending.

Regardless of the economic cycle we find ourselves in, Close Brothers Asset Finance remains strongly committed to the markets we serve, as we did during the recession a decade ago.