No sign of Rush slowing down

Jan Raycroft talks to Ian Rush, owner of Installation Machinery Services, about acquiring Unit Steam Engineering and the plans for the newly-expanded business

It’s a family affair: Ian Rush with sons Dean and Josh

Expanding your business by taking over another operation always means a busy period of identifying opportunities and planning for a successful future. It can be hard work, but obviously exciting. Doing that just as the Covid pandemic struck takes additional resilience and determination – as Ian Rush, boss of Installation Machinery Services discovered in the past 12 months.

In February last year Len Woollard, owner of long-established Unit Steam Engineering in Essex told Rush that he was seriously thinking about retiring. For many potential purchasers a lot of research would be needed, but these two industry stalwarts knew each other – and their respective businesses – very well. Rush had started in the industry back in 1984 with a job carrying out installation work for Unit Steam. He stayed 17 years, eventually branching out on his own, delivering and installing equipment for numerous companies, and then also offering refurbished equipment along with second-hand equipment.

All this background knowledge built on mutual respect led to Rush purchasing the goodwill and small amount of stock held by Unit Steam in March 2020. It was a ‘perfect fit’, giving Installation Machinery Services the opportunity to offer new equipment. And it wasn’t a one-man decision. IMS had gone from strength to strength during the previous decade with Rush’s sons, Dean and Josh, who have been working for him going full-time with the business. It’s a perfect set-up with Ian mainly looking after sales and spare parts, Josh involved in installations and deliveries since gaining an HGV licence, and Dean handling service and maintenance alongside installation work.

“Unfortunately, Covid hit around the same time as us purchasing Unit Steam,” says Rush. “That was definitely an eye opener, but we have stayed upbeat, supporting our customers through this difficult time, and keeping positive for the future. Everyone was a bit blasé about it all when the pandemic started, but then you realise the depth of the problem and must dig in, finding your survival mode.”

All three men have shared personal experience of coming through tough times and taking a new path, and it’s one Ian Rush shares openly. In the summer of 2010 he lost his wife, Donna, to heart failure after 22 years together. It was a devastating blow, and their sons were still teenagers at the time. “I had two boys to take care of and alongside that used the one thing I knew that could keep us all going,” recalls Rush. “I’ve been a worker all my life, raised in a family where it was expected that you go out to work, whatever, and make your own money. So I threw myself into that and somehow we found the place where life goes on.” It puts the pandemic and business issues into perspective, as does what’s happened since then, well beyond the Rush sons joining what is now a growing family firm. Proof that life does indeed go on comes with the fact that Ian has a new life partner, Gill. She’s also found a role in the business, helping with the book work and admin part-time.

Rush has sold the former family home – the sale went through during the window when we were out of lockdown last year – and is making a new life closer to a river in the Norfolk Broads. Dean Rush has a boat there and, with all three men enjoying fishing as their hobby, it’s the perfect chance to share family life alongside their work commitments. “I’ve kept my focus on all the positives while we’ve been going through the Covid drama,” says Rush. “For a start, Unit Steam didn’t have massive overheads and sales in the summer were really good. By November and December it was horrendous. It was like a switch had been flicked. Installations just stopped and you start thinking about tightening belts. But we’d seen and experienced the potential for normal times and that keeps you positive that they will return.”

The unwanted downtime for these busy bees has allowed Ian Rush to focus on the best parts of his newly-expanded business, including a showroom packed with machinery. That’s some investment and he’s pragmatic about the fact that in the last six months some potential customers have been reluctant, or unable, to visit it but is confident that as we head out of restrictions his new pride and joy will be a valuable asset alongside the fact that Installation Machinery Services has an excellent reputation built up over many years.

Most importantly, it’s provided an opportunity to forge strong bonds with equipment manufacturers across the world which previously dealt with Unit Steam. As a result, they have sole agency for Hoffman New Yorker, are the UK agents for Battistella, agents for Fagor washers and dryers and now agents for Italclean.

Having covered all the finishing equipment and laundry machinery including boilers, they felt a drycleaning machine supplier was needed to complete their portfolio of brands, so contacted Italclean who were very supportive and agreed on a machine to offer to customers alongside a full range of spare parts and electric boilers in stock at the Essex premises.

While time has dragged for many, Ian Rush is glad that his business has been able to quickly move on from installations and delivering equipment to now offering sales, spare parts and service. “It’s been a demanding and new role for all three of us, but worth it,” he says. “As a company, we do not forget where we started and are still offering our delivery and installation services to some of what you could now call our competitors – but we are happy to still offer these services.”

Ian Rush has forged a new relationship with Italclean to supply a drycleaning machine

 

Brothers in arms: Dean and Josh getting to grips with machinery and finishing equipment ready to wow visitors to their showroom

Jan Raycroft talks to Ian Rush, owner of Installation Machinery Services, about acquiring Unit Steam Engineering and the plans for the newly-expanded business

It’s a family affair: Ian Rush with sons Dean and Josh

Expanding your business by taking over another operation always means a busy period of identifying opportunities and planning for a successful future. It can be hard work, but obviously exciting. Doing that just as the Covid pandemic struck takes additional resilience and determination – as Ian Rush, boss of Installation Machinery Services discovered in the past 12 months.

In February last year Len Woollard, owner of long-established Unit Steam Engineering in Essex told Rush that he was seriously thinking about retiring. For many potential purchasers a lot of research would be needed, but these two industry stalwarts knew each other – and their respective businesses – very well. Rush had started in the industry back in 1984 with a job carrying out installation work for Unit Steam. He stayed 17 years, eventually branching out on his own, delivering and installing equipment for numerous companies, and then also offering refurbished equipment along with second-hand equipment.

All this background knowledge built on mutual respect led to Rush purchasing the goodwill and small amount of stock held by Unit Steam in March 2020. It was a ‘perfect fit’, giving Installation Machinery Services the opportunity to offer new equipment. And it wasn’t a one-man decision. IMS had gone from strength to strength during the previous decade with Rush’s sons, Dean and Josh, who have been working for him going full-time with the business. It’s a perfect set-up with Ian mainly looking after sales and spare parts, Josh involved in installations and deliveries since gaining an HGV licence, and Dean handling service and maintenance alongside installation work.

“Unfortunately, Covid hit around the same time as us purchasing Unit Steam,” says Rush. “That was definitely an eye opener, but we have stayed upbeat, supporting our customers through this difficult time, and keeping positive for the future. Everyone was a bit blasé about it all when the pandemic started, but then you realise the depth of the problem and must dig in, finding your survival mode.”

All three men have shared personal experience of coming through tough times and taking a new path, and it’s one Ian Rush shares openly. In the summer of 2010 he lost his wife, Donna, to heart failure after 22 years together. It was a devastating blow, and their sons were still teenagers at the time. “I had two boys to take care of and alongside that used the one thing I knew that could keep us all going,” recalls Rush. “I’ve been a worker all my life, raised in a family where it was expected that you go out to work, whatever, and make your own money. So I threw myself into that and somehow we found the place where life goes on.” It puts the pandemic and business issues into perspective, as does what’s happened since then, well beyond the Rush sons joining what is now a growing family firm. Proof that life does indeed go on comes with the fact that Ian has a new life partner, Gill. She’s also found a role in the business, helping with the book work and admin part-time.

Rush has sold the former family home – the sale went through during the window when we were out of lockdown last year – and is making a new life closer to a river in the Norfolk Broads. Dean Rush has a boat there and, with all three men enjoying fishing as their hobby, it’s the perfect chance to share family life alongside their work commitments. “I’ve kept my focus on all the positives while we’ve been going through the Covid drama,” says Rush. “For a start, Unit Steam didn’t have massive overheads and sales in the summer were really good. By November and December it was horrendous. It was like a switch had been flicked. Installations just stopped and you start thinking about tightening belts. But we’d seen and experienced the potential for normal times and that keeps you positive that they will return.”

The unwanted downtime for these busy bees has allowed Ian Rush to focus on the best parts of his newly-expanded business, including a showroom packed with machinery. That’s some investment and he’s pragmatic about the fact that in the last six months some potential customers have been reluctant, or unable, to visit it but is confident that as we head out of restrictions his new pride and joy will be a valuable asset alongside the fact that Installation Machinery Services has an excellent reputation built up over many years.

Most importantly, it’s provided an opportunity to forge strong bonds with equipment manufacturers across the world which previously dealt with Unit Steam. As a result, they have sole agency for Hoffman New Yorker, are the UK agents for Battistella, agents for Fagor washers and dryers and now agents for Italclean.

Having covered all the finishing equipment and laundry machinery including boilers, they felt a drycleaning machine supplier was needed to complete their portfolio of brands, so contacted Italclean who were very supportive and agreed on a machine to offer to customers alongside a full range of spare parts and electric boilers in stock at the Essex premises.

While time has dragged for many, Ian Rush is glad that his business has been able to quickly move on from installations and delivering equipment to now offering sales, spare parts and service. “It’s been a demanding and new role for all three of us, but worth it,” he says. “As a company, we do not forget where we started and are still offering our delivery and installation services to some of what you could now call our competitors – but we are happy to still offer these services.”

Ian Rush has forged a new relationship with Italclean to supply a drycleaning machine

 

Brothers in arms: Dean and Josh getting to grips with machinery and finishing equipment ready to wow visitors to their showroom

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