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A & L McCrae Ltd

REGARDLESS OF the industry you are in or the job you do, somewhere down the line, there is an element of quality customer service required, which is what ensures the business you find yourself in continues to thrive. That is very much the case for A & L McCrae Ltd – a family business that has been in operation for 50 years. Established by Alistair and Linda McCrae, who have retired, the company is now run by their son, Calum McCrae and quality customer service is something that he has carried on from the previous generation.

What made Alistair establish his company? His answer is one that many of us could relate to: “In c. 1973, at the age of 21, I was the manager of a farm estate and one day the owner approached me, unexpectedly, and said he was selling everything. “I was gutted and very let down. At that point I promised myself I would never work for someone else ever again,” Alistair explained.

Sticking to his word, Alistair purchased a Massey Ferguson 65 for £700, leaving very little in his pocket, and started working for himself. “In the winter, there wasn’t always a lot to do so I decided to hire a wee digger and started building drains and tracks. The construction work really just started to build from there,” he added.

Establishing the business was never a one man show, though, Alistair was eager to add: “My wife, Linda, looked after our children, the four young ones and that was so important.” Calum returned home 12 years ago and is now at the helm of both the quarrying and contracting sides of the business.

The McCraes have been a Gordons Construction Equipment customer for many years and the business now has a fleet of 19 Doosans and that is also down to quality customer service. The latest additions are a Doosan DX350-7, deployed to the McCraes’ latest acquisition, Clachan Quarry at Cairndow. Two Doosan loading shovels, a DL420-7 and DL280-7 are also arriving shortly and will be used for loading hard rock and sand and gravel into tippers at Clachan Quarry too: that brings the McCrae fleet to four Doosan shovels and 15 Doosan excavators.

The DX350 was put straight to work, stripping the sand and gravel reserves to make way for the new wash plant and concrete batching plant. The new quarry will be run alongside Barrachander Quarry and will allow the company to provide aggregates, washed sand and gravel, Readymix concrete and recycling facilities across the whole of Argyll.

Calum said: “We are building the business to a position where we are providing a full package for the large-scale infrastructure projects that are happening in Argyll, from plant and haulage, concrete, high quality aggregates and recycling.”

Speaking on the sales service provided by Gordons, Alistair said: “Our salesman, Craig Linning, knows the game inside out,” while Calum added: “Craig gives you no nonsense. You phone him and it’s ‘can you get me this machine? Aye. Great. Get it as soon as possible. Grand. Kids alright? Aye great, cheers!’ and that’s it, job done. Craig is one of the best salesmen we deal with and the deals are always right.

“He will always keep us going and if we are in a pinch, he will always sort us out, for example, with a back-up machine if we need one.”

Sales is not the only department that has an influence on the McCraes’ opinion; they cannot commend Gordons’ service department highly enough. “Our main service engineer, Tam Mitchell, is excellent. He stays until the job is done, no matter what time of day or what season it is. Being able to speak to someone the way we can speak to Tam about any issues, you know, someone who really knows what they are talking about, you just can’t beat that. “The service management is also brilliant and you can really tell that the relationship between Gordons and Doosan is strong, which is, of course, a big positive for us,” Calum explained.

Gordons’ high level of service is a main reason for A & L McCrae using the Doosan brand but their ease of use and quality is also a major factor. Alistair commented: “We used Daewoo from the beginning, so the Doosan make-up has always been familiar to us. “At shows over the years, you could really see the Doosans coming on and they just rapidly caught up with other manufacturers. “We all like Doosans. The staff are happy with them, a major factor these days, and they have the best and most reliable warranty back-up and you just can’t forget that.”

So what is the key to staying ahead of the game and keeping up with the times in this industry?

Alistair concluded: “Keep modern machinery, be there when people need you. You need to provide a quality service, always. Quality does not cost – it pays.”

A & L McCrae Ltd is a multi-disciplined civil engineering firm, haulier and quarry operator and is the largest independent supplier of quarry products in Argyll.

The business has a proven track record of supplying major infrastructure, housing and commercial developments as well as large-scale renewable energy projects on the west coast and has a client base including regional councils, renewable energy, pylon routes and substations, civil engineering companies, housing and commercial developers, marine contractors, utility contractors, Network Rail and the general public.

In this period of company expansion, Calum McCrae sees Gordons and Doosan as key partners to building the business in the future.

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