A day with Hawk Training School

Natalie Binder, Leica Geosystems UK marketing and communications manager, recently spent the day with Hawk Training School in Whitchurch, Shropshire, to learn more about the construction industry. Below is her interview with Paul Allman, director of Hawk Plant Hire.

Could you give me some background to the school, who you are and what you do?

We have been established for over 40 years and in that time the Hawk Group has developed into one of the largest construction equipment hire companies in the UK. We have 11 companies within the Hawk Group consisting of; Plant Hire, Tractor Hire, Contracts, Transport , Training, Cabins, Developments, Homes, Motors, Plant Sales and Enverity our materials testing division. We specialise in providing plant hire solutions on the country’s largest construction projects. We also have extensive experience of working internationally and have undertaken projects in West Africa, West Europe and the Caribbean.

When was the training school opened and why?

It was in 2001 that the Hawk Training School first opened its doors following the government focus on reducing accidents in the construction workplace which led to an increased need for accredited training courses. Originally based near Wem in North Shropshire, the school provides training, accreditation and consultancy for a wide range of construction and professional competencies.

One of a kind, the success of the school meant the need for bigger offices and subsequently there was a move to Sandford Industrial Estate, Whitchurch in 2011. A wide range of equipment training courses are offered ranging from excavator and dump trucks to crushers and cranes. Other courses provided include Health and Safety Training, First Aid Training, Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), Health & Safety Awareness CSCS, CPCS A40 Slinger Signaler, CPCS A61 Appointed Persons and many more. We provide a one stop shop of training solutions, providing management and expertise for large and small clients. The school is very unique in respect of its size and the training range provided.

The training offered is of a very high calibre and all students who attend the school are instructed by fully qualified trainers.

With a massive skills shortage in the UK construction industry and a predicted 20 percent more workers required on average to meet pipeline demand in 2014-2017, there is a significant market opportunity for developing the school further.

Hawk_Page_31_Image_0001Who are your customers and what other services can you provide them?

As the leading plant hire company in the UK, we have more than 2,000 pieces of machinery and equipment and our customers are both national and international. Our customers include Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Kier and Bam. We hire equipment and undertake contract earthworks for them in addition to providing the range of other services we are able to offer as part of our group.

Could you please explain your partnership with Leica Geosystems? 

The partnership with Leica Geosystems has been established for more than four years and was initiated by Neil Williams – Engineering & Infastructure “on” machine segment manger. Conversations were started around how Machine Control could be better promoted to the marketplace and the working relationship flourished from there.

We worked together with Leica Geosystems to promote the benefits of Machine Control to our clients. Working together on open days and training days meant we could use the strength of both our brands to positively educate our existing clients. There is still a real lack of understanding around Machine Control and what it can do to benefit a company and the individual. Working in partnership with Leica Geosystems has really helped us to promote Machine Control to the marketplace.

Benefits of machine control to the marketplace are numerous and include:

  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Time savings
  • Material savings
  • Improved finish

How are you helping women into construction and in particular machine control?

It is really important for us as an employer of choice to try and encourage women into the industry and this is something we strongly believe in. It is not just a lack of women in construction but a lack of young people as well, both male and female. Here at Hawk Training School we have had open days inviting women to come along and see what careers are available and to find out more. We now have a small number of female operators who are fully qualified but there is still a lot more we can do. We are hoping to have more open days later this year.

What do you envisage for the future of the Hawk Training School? Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I’d like to see more courses for external companies for operators, foremen and drivers. We have a lot of good courses but we need to keep up to date with legislation and make sure the courses are providing the client with the latest innovations. There is a massive market for Machine Control in the UK and we need to continue to find new and interesting ways of educating the marketplace. Training days are so important and the work we do in partnership with Leica Geosystems is very effective and works. I want to pursue our relationship with Leica Geosystems and spread the word about the benefits of Machine Control.


Paul Allman is the director of Hawk Plant Hire where he has been with the company form more than 20 years. He is responsible for the management of the plant division with a focus on group marketing.


Natalie Binder

Natalie Binder is the marketing and communications manager at Leica Geosystems UK. She is responsible for marketing and communications plan and strategy through innovative marketing campaigns, PR and digital media.

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