The Indie Series – Q&A with James Bright, managing director of JK Lifting Equipment

Tell us about JK Lifting

The firm was founded by John Kesson in 1983 and has over 35 years of experience in this highly specialised sector. John remains a key member of the growing team of lifting and engineering specialists. I acquired the business in July 2019 and since then we have made five key appointments, completed a name change and rebrand, along with significant investment in training and technology.

The investment has added further breadth and depth to the highly skilled existing team, and we now have more engineers accredited to the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA). This is the gold standard in lifting know-how, and our increased capacity allows us to support more firms to ensure their lifting equipment is legally compliant.

We’ve also invested in a range of new technologies. This includes leading-edge software that allows us to quickly and easily certify lifting equipment from site, through to analysis and final report, usually within 24 hours.

We’re sited on the banks of the River Tyne, based at Walker Road, Newcastle and we are incredibly proud of our reputation for engineering excellence, innovative solutions and collaborative working relationships. We support many of the region’s most significant construction, manufacturing, engineering, marine, renewable and offshore firms, helping them lift large and complex goods..

What is the most rewarding aspect of running an independent business in the region?

Every day presents a challenge and I enjoy finding a solution for our clients’ projects. We undertake a lot of bespoke work, utilising our creative skills to design and manufacture lifting solutions, often for complex requirements. This could be lifting a piece of heavy machinery out of a building, to the certification of offshore marine equipment.

Finding that solution and presenting it back to a customer is what I love, but that is only possible with a collaborative approach from the JK team who work together to solve the challenge. From the design element detailing the ‘how’ on paper to the engineers bringing the project to reality with the ‘lift’ – every day is different and that provides both me and the team with the motivation to succeed.

Looking back on the past year, what has been your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is the acquisition of the business. It’s been a hugely successful first year under new company name JK Lifting Equipment and we have seen strong growth in the marine and renewables sectors. I’m incredibly proud of the transition and that I continue to work with the previous owner John Kesson. It was important to both of us that we retained all of the key customers and guaranteed them uninterrupted service during the buy-out.

My role is to lead the team, plan the operational output and most importantly generate sales. As we have grown I have brought skilled recruits in to help manage and develop certain aspects of our operations, allowing me more time to focus on generating new business.

What have been your biggest challenges?

Our first year has exceeded expectations, but like most businesses, Covid-19 has presented us with challenges which we could never have predicted. We’ve had to quickly adapt our ways of working; the team have been fantastic, pulling together to navigate unchartered territory. We remain focussed on delivering excellence and added-value for our customers at every step, through our in-depth industry knowledge.

What are the short and long-term plans for the business?

I feel optimistic about 2020. Despite a challenging start, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Our focus remains on customer service and our flexible approach to projects has enabled us to navigate our way through this turbulent period. We’ll continue to grow organically and potentially through acquisition if the right opportunity arises – watch this space!