Q & A with Curtis Allen, Division Manager at BLEC machinery – suppliers of specialised landscaping and turfcare equipment and part of the Redexim Group.
BLEC became a member of the Redexim Charterhouse group in 2015. What were the biggest challenges you faced in taking on the range?
The first challenge we faced was really getting to grips with the range – where it sat in the market, who was using the machines and for what applications. It is the first range we’ve taken on that has pushed us into the landscape sector, with Redexim traditionally focussing on the sports and fine turf markets. The expansion in this direction was a big learning curve for everyone. Once we had a better understanding of the range we began to streamline it, removing products that duplicated those from the Redexim portfolio and began to look at what techniques and experience we could employ to redesign certain BLEC machines to maximise their potential.
What do you feel is the company’s unique selling point that has helped in its success?
BLEC is an established name that is known for the reliability and strength of its products. This is something we’ve been able to enhance further with the manufacturing resources available to Redexim. The BLEC range includes a number of ‘multi-functional’ machines, such as the Cultipack Seeder, which offers the users flexibility and adaptability to conduct multiple tasks – levelling, seeding and finishing – in one pass. Products across the portfolio demonstrate a thorough understanding of what the operators really need.
Aside from the UK market, which other country has strong sales for BLEC products and why do you think this is?
Following the UK, the US is second strongest market for BLEC – the brand is long established there. We are certainly noting developments in other regions, where the strong Redexim network is giving BLEC exposure at new shows and events. The credibility and trustworthiness of the Redexim brand is giving BLEC the opportunity to prosper in new areas around the world.
Around the world you mainly adopt the dealer route to market. What do you consider the benefits of this to be?
The main benefit is the superior level of service and support you can give to customers irrespective of their geographic location. Dealers hold a wealth of local knowledge and bridge that all-important relationship between customer and supplier. They will often stock parts and can provide a quicker, and more tailored response to questions or problems encountered by customers within their local area.
What is your personal favourite BLEC machine/model and why?
I actually have two. The first is the BLECavator BV145 because it makes such a massive different to the ground in a single pass. The second is the Laser Grader 1500TPP model because, despite it being relatively compact in size, it can level even large areas of ground in such a short period of time.
The BLEC range appeals to users in a number of different markets. Have you noticed any trends or factors affecting buying habits in the various sectors and how is BLEC keeping pace with the changing demands?
One change we’ve seen is the way that end users are transporting their machinery. Landscape contractors will tend to transport the equipment required for the job on a trailer, which has a 3.5 tonne weight limit. With a lot of tasks requiring a tractor, by the time you deduct that weight, together with the weight of the trailer itself, it doesn’t leave much for other machinery. That is creating demand for lighter weight machines and that’s something we’ve been looking at with the BLEC range. For example, we introduced a smaller version of the BLEC Power Box Rake which weighs in at just 385kg but still delivers the same level of functionality and performance.
Can you tell us about any forthcoming developments with BLEC and if and when any new products will be released to the market?
With a good few years of knowledge and experience now firmly under our belts we’ve been able to make some adjustments and improvements to models across the BLEC range. By popular demand, we are pleased to be bringing the Multivator back into the renovation stable. This machine returns good quality material from depths of up to 30cm back into the upper layers of the soil profile where a rear-mounted brush then distributes the exchanged material evenly to leave a clean, level finish. Also in response to customer demands, we are introducing a compact, pedestrian version of the Rotorake. The Rotorake 1000 uses a multi-tine rotor to rake down to depths of up to 30mm to move and wind-row unwanted stones and debris. Both machines are currently out for testing and, despite the restrictions on working practices imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are hopeful that both products will be launched and available later this year.