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About Michael

Michael's story on how The HIRD Group all started

I’m incredibly proud to have founded a group of rail businesses that have provided truly bespoke and sustainable products from the outset, long before sustainability was on everyone else’s agenda. HIRD all started back in 1952, when my father set up a successful scrap business upcycling railway sleepers and materials from decommissioned sidings after World War II.

After family retirement my natural entrepreneurship led me to the helm of the ship, and I took the business from strength to strength. In 1995, I established HIRD Rail Services (HRS), as we know it today.

With a burning desire to push boundaries and expand into other areas, I took the decision to diversify to grow the business. My extensive understanding of the rail sector means I have a knack for identifying market gaps and successfully bringing in new, innovative products to fill them. I supplemented my natural intuition with quality research and development which formed an important part of our product development process, and which underpins our success across the group.

Over the years, the HIRD Group has acted with such natural agility; we have supplied rail domestically and overseas, we have pre-empted structural change within the industry, having worked successfully with British Rail, Rail Track and Network Rail, and we have constantly identified new-to-market opportunities.

Insulated block joints (IBJs) were one of the key products that I wanted to develop for the UK rail market, and an example of how we have applied rigorous R&D to bring true innovation and evolution into the UK rail industry.

Since developing the HIRD insulated rail joint for the home market, we have enjoyed significant success across the world, having extended the product range in terms of the rail profiles to meet diverse markets’ exacting needs.

Another example is Green Trough, which I first came across back in 2011. This is a highly innovative green cable management alternative that is manufactured from recycled household waste, not only making it lighter and therefore easier and safer to handle, but also providing a greater internal capacity than traditional cable management solutions, whilst simultaneously diverting tonnes and tonnes of waste from landfill and incineration

This felt as if the stars had aligned – my gut feeling was telling me that this product had huge potential, as the product perfectly complemented our intrinsic focus on sustainability, whilst representing a viable and novel alternative to the limited choices that were available to customers at the time. We brought it to market, received Network Rail Product Approval in 2013, and it has been an overwhelming success ever since.

On discovering Green Trough, we subsequently set up Trough-Tec Systems (TTS) to act as the official distributor of Green Trough into the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. Since then, the company has grown in size and scope. By reapplying that passion and skill for product development, TTS is now also a manufacturer of a unique combined anti-slip walkway and cable management system – a spin-off of the base Green Trough range. The entire TTS range has also seen significant success out of rail: to date we have installed Green Trough in sectors as varied as, nuclear,  waste water treatment, and electric vehicle charging points. Diversification to the HIRD Group is now a case of diversifying into markers out of rail, as well as continually growing and developing out product ranges.

Not long after founding TTS, we also launched HIRD Rail Development (HRD) – an innovative manufacturing centre for HIRD own-brand products, and a distributor of other unique permanent way products that are new to the UK rail market.

Renowned for being game-changers, HIRD Rail Development (HRD) has earnt itself the nickname of “Dragon’s ”: we represent products into our home markets that cannot be sourced domestically, and act as the global and exclusive distributor of technologies that bring added safety and longevity to the railway infrastructure.  In this sense, we are making the railway itself more sustainable by ensuring that the original materials used last as long as is physically and safely possible

I have always had a personal mission of controlling my own destiny. The journey I undertook to design, develop and produce the rail joints on home turf is the perfect example of this. The team and I set out on a quest to create a world-class system that would allow the business to manufacture high-quality joints in-house, and after 10 years of extensive R&D, we decided that we had eventually developed the right system. It was around about the same time that I invested heavily into reinventing HIRD Rail Services.

The HIRD Group is located over three sites within the Doncaster area from which we manufacture, and provide storage and logistics. Our site at Armthorpe houses a purpose-built 6-acre factory. It is from this site that we take the IBJ kits, manufactured at HRD, and provide an assembly service to our clients. We assemble our joints into our clients’ rail in our state-of-the-art production facility, which has deservedly won a reputation for world-class excellence. Clifford House at Lakeside is home to TTS and HRD, and our final site, a former railway station in Tickhill, is a hub for storage and logistics for the entire group.

My instinct is not limited to identifying gaps in the market – I am also proud of the fact that we have evolved in terms of how we trade internationally as well. We recognised early on – in preparation for and in response to Brexit – that in order to maintain a competitive presence within the European market, we would need a permanent base on the continent. That is how we came to create HRD BV, the Dutch arm of the HIRD Group, located with offices just outside Amsterdam, provides a strategic link between our British and European activities.

The HIRD Group’s overall company success has resulted in global partnerships across the US, India, Singapore, France, Malaysia, New Zealand and Sydney, to name a few. We have earned and deserve a worldwide reputation as major distributers and developers of rail materials and services.

Along with our innate passion for pioneering, The HIRD Group places a huge focus on sustainability. I’m incredibly proud to be at the helm of a team that genuinely care about leaving the planet in a better way. The “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra comes naturally to us, and is what makes us different to the rest. This, combined with the fact we have a great bunch of people on board who really care about our focus on quality and sustainability, has played a major role in The Group’s success.  I firmly believe we are custodians of the past and guardians of the future.

I’m equally passionate about upskilling and giving back to my local community. It’s really important that I look after my hometown, and I am immensely proud of the fact that the HIRD Group has created so many new jobs. We are playing an active role in levelling up by continually investing in our teams and their ongoing training. At the same time, we are also contributing to Doncaster’s social and economic growth by recruiting, training and upskilling a local workforce to deliver world class infrastructure products across the world.

It’s thanks to a truly great team of experts, and a green and cutting-edge product portfolio, that The HIRD Group encompasses a set of thriving companies that stand before you today.

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