Nairn-based Chris Knight has worked tirelessly to build up his business selling new and second hand plant. With premium dealerships and a network of top contacts now in place, business is booming.
“PEOPLE buy from people – especially in this part of the world. How you get on with someone is crucial to what I do.”
So says Chris Knight, owner of Chris Knight Plant Sales, a booming business operating in the Highlands and northern Scotland.
Based in Nairn, Chris deals in new and second hand plant and machinery including excavators, dumpers and trenching equipment.
Chris is the agent for NC Engineering’s construction equipment for the north of Scotland and the Highlands and Islands. He also has the dealership for Ammann and Yanmar Equipment for the same area.
With experience as both operator and seller, Chris is ideally placed to offer insight into some of the top products currently on the market.
“I’m a farmer’s son and always loved diggers,” Chris said. “When I left school I worked on a farm before moving into the construction industry. I also had a spell driving lorries up until the foot and mouth outbreak.
“In 2001 I bought my first digger and started to do contracting. In 2006 I began wheeling and dealing in second hand plant.”
Today, Chris is one of the most successful plant sellers in the region. He has built his reputation on quality machines and service.
“The NC Engineering machines are top quality,” Chris added.
“They’re well built and actually over engineered.
“I was introduced to Lee Morris, who’s in charge of NC’s site dumper sales. We hit it off. He was looking for someone to push dumpers in this area. I’ve never looked back since.
“I’d always been impressed with NC’s dumpers. Their products are built to last and hugely reliable, which is especially important in the north of Scotland.
“You never see a second hand NC dumper for sale because everyone loves them and they last so long.”
Chris took Project Plant to see a NC SW 3 ton swivel hydrostatic dumper in action – a 1.0 HT high tip, currently involved in a drainage project in Findhorn.
The quality and sturdiness was plain to see, with operators commenting on how easy the machine is to operate around the site.
“The quality of build is phenomenal on these machines,” Chris added. “I had a stand at the Black Isle Show this year for the first time and it was interesting to see the reaction from customers. They kept coming back to my dumpers because they could see the quality compared to some of my rivals and I did a huge amount of business.
“Someone commented at the show that the people I was selling to were friends rather than customers. But my customers are my friends – that’s how things work here. I’m totally independent.
“I always had the contacts, it was just a case of pushing the products and making people aware of them.”
Chris also obtained the dealership for Ammann and Yanmar after attending the Plantworx show in 2013.
“I travelled down to see what dealerships were available,” Chris continued. “They were looking for a Highland-based dealer to cover the north of Scotland.
“No one has really pushed Yanmar up here before. The products again are excellent – well built, no hassle.
“I could sell cheaper machines but then I’d be chasing after them all day long because they’d be breaking down all the time.
“Plant is a huge industry in this part of the world. There’s a lot going on. My typical customer is small, independent and rural.
“There’s a lot of competition and all the main players have a presence here. My biggest challenge is getting people to move away from the 2/3 brands they’ve always used.
“The products are there, it’s just about getting them out there. I’m getting more and more enquiries and I recently opened a yard in Nairn, which is a huge benefit. I’m looking to start bringing in new stock next year.
“The industry needs more machines. People are busy. The work is out there but money’s tight.
“Since the recession people are more cautious with their money. This is where residual value comes in. The two big things people look for now is purchase price and residual value.
“I’ve noticed people are purchasing now rather than financing.”
Lee Morris, who handles site dumper sales for NC Engineering in the UK and Europe, said, “We’ve built an excellent relationship with Chris. Since he took over the franchise, we’ve increased sales in the Highlands. He’s well connected and his expansion plans match our own. We’ll be introducing more products next year. Onwards and upwards!”