A CLEANER who rose through the ranks at a Swindon tools hire company is now managing it independently after the firm went bust.

Barry Smith worked as a customer assistant at Fast Plant when management issues forced the company into liquidation.

A generous entrepreneur stepped in and saved the business then appointed Barry as its managing director.

Barry said: “I always had a good rapport with the customers and everyone seemed to know me and call me if they had a problem.

“Before coming here, I worked in gardening but got made redundant, then a friend said he could offer me a couple of days pushing a broom around at Fast Plant.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up over 12 years and saw what happened at each level.

“This gave me a better idea of what the company is like and the right experience to lead it when it got bought out and rebranded. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, though it was a long time coming.”

Trade Plant in Elgin Industrial Estate offers diggers, dumpers, trailers, rollers, smaller tools, gardening equipment and mixers for hire to construction and domestic projects.

Barry works with a central team of six people in the main office while other employees travel around the town and beyond.

He talked about what it was like to take on the top job: “This was not a decision I made lightly. I was always good at being a number two, a right-hand man, but not naturally good at being the person has to make the big decisions.

“It took a lot of effort. I’ve had to make a couple of tough decisions and you never fully know at the time if you’ve made the right choice but things have worked out well.

“The numbers are going up and the people who visit keep coming back, so it’s onwards and upwards for us. I want to be here helping customers with good quality service at reasonable prices for the next 10, 20, even 30 years.”

There has been some confusion since the relaunch, with some customers thinking it was the same company as before or part of a conglomerate but Barry stressed that it is neither.