Tidyco Origins | An Interview with David Tidy
Derby-based Tidyco, a supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the UK rail industry for over 40 years, here talks to David Tidy regarding the origins of Tidyco.

Hi David, as Company Chairman can you tell us about the origins of Tidyco?

Certainly, I started my working life at Rolls Royce Derby. I completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at Imperial College London and 2 years as an Apprentice in the Aero Engine Division. Unfortunately RR went into Receivership in 1971 and this changed my career path.

I had rebuilt a Triumph TR4 and bought some equipment to enable me to do the work. I used to lend my compressor and spraying equipment, for a small fee, to my colleagues at work. I began toying with the idea of starting a tool hire business. In 1973, Tidy Hire was born in a very small garage at the side of my house on Boot Hill, Repton.

I began to invest in equipment ranging from lawn mowers, concrete mixers, heaters, dehumidifiers through to a variety of power tools and set about advertising the company in the Derby Telegraph.

After a lot of hard work, commitment and determination Tidy Hire expanded to a point whereby I needed to recruit my first employee.

It was at this time that I rented a property at Findern near Derby alongside the A38. After a while, it became increasingly apparent that the majority of the business was coming from Derby. Tidy Hire relocated to Derby. Initially moving to Great Northern Road and then to the current Pentagon Island location.

You mentioned advertising in the local press, how important was the role of marketing to your overall business plan?

I considered marketing to be incredibly important. Plant and Tool Hire was a new service and Tidy Hire had to be the first name the customer thought of. I understood the necessity to develop a distinctive brand as well as advertising in local publications. Tidy Hire developed very distinctive branded vehicle livery. Networking was also critical to the success of the business. The current digital age has created access to markets both locally and abroad, back then everything was very much localised.

I employed the services of a local graphic design partnership, Swan Design. They supported me by developing a corporate identity. Bob Wood and Dave Kirk devised a logo which depicted the movement of assets leaving and being returned to the Tidy Hire warehouse. The snow flake as some people call it.

Timeless in nature, the logo still exists to this very day and wonderfully represents rolling stock movement.

With the visual identity clearly defined, I began to invest heavily in advertising. The local press really is a powerful promotional tool and I am pleased to see that current marketing activity includes the Derby Telegraph as part of an overall communications mix.

I have always believed that the brand has to be the first thing people think of when considering the products and services supplied. Reactive in nature; when people required a particular tool, Tidy Hire had to be their first point of call.

How and when did the company diversify into the field of hydraulics?

Hydraulic Concrete Breakers were introduced to the UK market. The company invested in the first breakers and Hydraulic Power Packs for the hire fleet. By the very nature of the product usage, blown hydraulic hoses and failed components were a regular occurrence.

Tidy Hydraulics Ltd. was formed in 1986 to address the increased demand for hydraulic hose assemblies and the repair of Hydraulic equipment. An opportunity to sell the Hire business arose. Hydraulics became the core business function when the hire business was sold. Tidy Hydraulics was able to develop and expand. The growth came from the local manufacturing industry which has served the company very well over the years. In 1999, Tidy Hydraulics became an official Parker Hannifin distributor and then a Parker Technology Centre, with a Parker Store for off the shelf components as well as a Hose Doctor van service for mobile on-site repairs. In 2005 the Company formed another Division, Climate Control (HVAC) and also took on a Pneumatics Distributorship. The company was then rebranded Tidyco Ltd.

How do you feel about Tidyco in its current guise?

Understandably, I feel proud to see the company still growing and expanding with new services and additional customers. We are still very much a family business with James Tidy as MD further developing the company and the services we offer. Our customer service performance, KPIs, MRP, production planning and accounts are all driven by the IT systems that James has developed and installed.

Somebody said to me that the only reason to be in business is to make money. We do not agree. Business is about creating a positive experience whereby the brand is trusted for being both ethical as well as reliable. We believe in employing good people, good training, good products, good quality, good systems, good advisors…then a good profit will be our reward.

It is truly rewarding to see Tidyco invest a great deal of time and effort regarding corporate responsibilities such as implementing a dedicated Health and Safety management system, introducing robust environmental policies as well as on-going commitments towards people through the celebration of diversity and inclusion. All of this good, ethical work resulted in Parliamentary recognition for our responsible business endeavours.

Tidyco’s continuing collaboration with the rail industry and its involvement at Board level representing SMEs within the wider supply chain has my full support. There is a great deal of opportunity for on-going expansion and I am excited to see what happens next!

About the author

Barry Aldridge MCIM

Head of Marketing at Tidyco Limited and member of the Board of Directors for Midlands Rail Forum.