"We also call on the services of temporary staff and loan vehicles. That gives me the necessary flexibility to cushion those phases in which we can't work due to poor weather, for example."
– Richard Le Maître, Chairman of Le Maître SVTP
Le Maître SVTP is a familiar name in Le Havre and the surrounding area. All of their vehicles are bright orange. "With this colour, we're sure that we'll always be seen. You can't miss us. And that's the best type of advertising!" Richard Le Maître is sure of that. The company which he runs together with his wife was founded in 1993.
This small to medium-sized company based in Sandouville in the department of Seine-Maritime in northern France specialises in excavation work. Besides 6×4 and 8×4 tippers, the fleet also includes tipper semitrailers and low-loaders. There are also twelve mobile diggers and tracked excavators ranging from 3 to 35 tonnes, as well as bulldozers for working in boggy terrain. The latest new addition is an Arocs 2643 6×4 with roll-off tipper. This is the first Mercedes-Benz to enter the company's fleet, and Jérôme Huard, Salesperson at the Divinor Mercedes-Benz dealership in Le Havre is very proud of it.
Le Maître SVTP generates 80 % of its turnover by renting out vehicles and machinery together with their drivers to large companies such as Eiffage, Lafarge, Bouygues and Vinci. But the company also works directly for the public port authority at the Grand Port Maritime of Le Havre, not to mention for individual municipalities, the department itself and for private customers with their own site managers.
"We're a team of 25 people, plus four temporary employees per year; some of whom have been helping us out for several years now," says Richard Le Maître. "That gives me the necessary flexibility to cushion those phases in which we can't work due to poor weather, for example." At times when civil engineering and excavation work experience a boom, he also rents out as many as ten vehicles and other construction machinery.
Due to inconvenient climatic conditions, this civil engineering firm with its headquarters along the coast of The Channel has no other option but to plan their orders on a day-to-day basis. If the weather doesn't allow them to carry out excavation work, then the staff of Le Maître SVTP carry out maintenance and repair work on the vehicles and machines in the company's own workshop. And the boss is also anything but afraid of getting his own hands dirty. It's not an uncommon sight for Richard Le Maître to get behind the wheel of a digger or a bulldozer. "A day in a digger is like a day's holiday for me," he says laughing. He hasn't forgotten those tough initial days in the business, when work was carried out from within uncomfortable trucks and machines – especially in summer when the heat would become unbearable in the mosquito-ridden cabs with fixed glazing. No comparison to today's construction site machines which can be cooled to perfection. The same applies to the new Arocs, which is even equipped with a comfort seat.
Photos: Hans Müller