Francis Homes, the Solihull-based developer of exclusive and luxurious family homes, has just bought its first excavator - a Volvo ECR50D, supplied by SM Plant Sales.
The new excavator purchase represents the company’s first step towards expanding its house building operation, as it looks at taking more control of operating costs and make greater use of its own resources.
Francis Homes is run by former professional footballer Trevor Francis, in partnership with his eldest son Matthew. While Matthew is responsible for the day-to-day aspects of the business, his younger brother James also works in the company, and Trevor applies himself in a managerial role.
It is not the first time Trevor Francis has been the manager of a business - after becoming England's first £1 million player following his transfer to Nottingham Forest in 1979 and scoring the winning goal in the European Cup final that same year, he later went on to manage Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday. Away from the family business, Trevor Francis is still involved with the game, commentating as a television pundit with BT Sport.
“This Volvo digger would make a cracking central defender,” said Trevor. “It looks like it could easily destroy the others on the pitch.”
Francis Homes is currently working on two exclusive developments in and around Birmingham where it is building multiple luxurious family homes worth in excess of £1.5m each over the next two years.
While the business has been growing, its heavy machinery needs have been met through hiring. But the progression of the business to a ‘premier league’ housing developer has enabled the father-and-son team to invest in their first excavator.
“Having our own midi-excavator permanently on site means we can take advantage of its capabilities without having to consider short-term hire costs,” explained Matthew.
“I did look at an eight tonner, but settled on a five-tonne machine simply because of its dimensions,” he said. “Its compact size means it will be easier to move between sites than a larger machine, and it has enough power to pull footings and carry out other odd jobs on site.”
The ECR50D is Volvo’s first true five-tonne excavator, replacing the ECR48C. Compared to its predecessor, the ECR50D packs extra weight and brings a longer under carriage, offering better stability which means a 1.8m ‘long’ dipper arm becomes standard fitment.
A new hydraulic valve-block offers improved feel and precision, and a fuel-efficient Volvo D2.6A four-cylinder engine brings a useful power increase too, with 41.8hp. Eco plus preset engine rpm modes and an auto-idle function let the operator make the most of the machine’s power and economy.
The short radius machine will make it easy for the business to work in confined spaces, while its powerful blade will be useful for tidying up on site.
With load sensing, variable displacement hydraulics, plus flow-sharing and proportional controls, the ECR50D also brings big machine capability to a compact package. With auxiliary lines and 75-litres/min oil flow, it offers much more than just the ability to dig holes.
“We do see Volvo as a premium brand and its values fit with our company ethos which includes using the best to deliver the best.”
Supplied with four buckets and equipped with a hydraulic quick-coupler, Francis Homes’ ECR50D will be used for footings, grading, landscaping and general duties on site.
“While we will continue to hire-in much larger machines for short-term heavy work and site clearance, having our own excavator gives us a little more onsite capability and much greater operational flexibility,” said Matthew. “We’ll probably add a breaker in the near future, and perhaps an auger, to go with the selection of buckets that came with our ECR50D.”
SM Plant Ltd is Volvo Construction Equipment’s utility dealer covering the Midlands and central southern England and is headquartered in Rugby, Warwickshire.
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