35 years in business


Rye Hire is marking 35 years trading in the town, so it’s a perfect chance to find out more about the history of the business – and hear about plans for the future.

Who started the company 35 years ago? Andy Polley and his late father Bert embarked on their entrepreneurial journey by founding the business together after Andy identified a significant need in the local community for building and gardening equipment hire. Recognizing the potential for such a service, they decided to cater for both amateur gardeners and for professional builders who required tools and machinery on a temporary basis.

They began their venture modestly, starting with just a handful of essential items: a few small grinders, a breaker, a generator, a drill, and a reliable van. Despite the humble beginnings, their dedication and hard work quickly paid off, allowing them to expand their inventory and services over time.

Bert, driven by a passion for the business and a strong work ethic, remained actively involved in Rye Hire daily. His commitment was unwavering, and he continued to work at the company every day until he reached the remarkable age of ninety. Bert’s persistent presence and hands-on approach were instrumental in the success and growth of the business, leaving a lasting legacy even after his passing.

Was it in the same place as it is now? Rye Hire started in Rope Walk Arcade in two ground-floor units just as the Arcade first opened and was filled with other local businesses.

How many people were employed at the beginning and how many are now employed? The business initially began with a tight-knit team consisting of Andy, Bert, and Moira, who collectively managed all administrative tasks. Their collaborative effort and dedication were crucial in laying the foundation for Rye Hire. As the business grew, so did its workforce. Today, Rye Hire proudly employs seven full-time and part-time local residents, many of whom bring with them specialized skills in mechanical and electrical engineering. This expertise has significantly contributed to the company’s ability to offer high-quality services and maintain a robust inventory of well-maintained equipment.

Beyond its regular staff, Rye Hire is deeply committed to community engagement and youth development. The company actively supports young people by offering work experience placements in collaboration with Rye College. This initiative has proved beneficial, several students choosing to stay on with Rye Hire until they moved on to further education.

Moreover, Rye Hire has been a supportive workplace for retained firefighters over its thirty-five-year history, having employed eight of them during this period. Andy is particularly passionate about this aspect of the business. He firmly believes in providing a flexible and accommodating workspace for Rye’s firefighters, ensuring they can fulfil their crucial public service rôles while also contributing to the company. This commitment underscores Andy’s dedication to both his community and his employees, reflecting the core values that have guided Rye Hire since its inception.

What vision did the founder have for his company? The Polleys aspired to build a successful and sustainable business that could serve as a significant local employer and contribute positively to the community. The vision was to create a company that would not only thrive financially but also offer stable, meaningful employment opportunities for residents. From the outset, this commitment to sustainability and community integration was at the heart of the business. What began as a straightforward venture focused exclusively on the hiring of building and gardening equipment soon transformed into a multi-faceted enterprise.

In an expansion of the scope of Rye Hire’s operations, it quickly became apparent that there was also a significant demand for repair and maintenance services for these tools and machines. Responding to this demand, Andy incorporated these into the business model, ensuring that customers could rely on Rye Hire not only for rentals but also for the upkeep and servicing of their equipment. This natural evolution of the business allowed Rye Hire to enhance its offerings and solidify its reputation as a comprehensive provider of building and gardening solutions.

Furthermore, Andy recognised the importance of offering products for sale, catering to customers who preferred to own their equipment rather than rent. By diversifying the business in this way, Rye Hire was able to attract a broader customer-base and provide more comprehensive solutions to meet its needs. This strategic expansion into repairs, services, and sales, alongside the original hire products exemplifies how Andy’s vision for a sustainable and adaptable business successfully materialised over time.

What have been some of the highlights? Bert’s dedication to Rye Hire was evident as he continued to work until his ninetieth birthday, becoming a cherished figure both within the company and the broader community. His daily presence was marked by his sharing of jokes and wisdom, endearing him to customers and employees alike. Bert’s warm personality and wealth of experience contributed to a positive and friendly atmosphere at Rye Hire, making it not just a place of business but a community hub.

Rye Hire’s reach extends beyond the local community as the business often welcomes tourists from around the world who hire bikes to explore the area. This aspect of the business not only supports local tourism but also creates opportunities for cultural exchange and the formation of lasting friendships. Through these interactions, Rye Hire has become a gateway for visitors to experience the local charm and hospitality.
In addition to its business activities, Rye Hire takes pride in its active support of local events and organizations. The company sponsors a variety of community initiatives, including the Bonfire Society, local clubs, and charitable organizations. This sponsorship reflects Andy’s and the team’s commitment to giving back to the community that has supported them over the years. By investing in local events and causes, Rye Hire fosters a sense of community spirit and contributes to the vibrancy and well-being of the area.

Overall, Bert’s enduring involvement,  the adaptability during the pandemic, the connection with international tourists, and the sponsorship of local events collectively underscore Rye Hire’s integral rôle in both the local and broader community.

Rye Hire has frequently brought to people’s minds to the famous “Four Candles” sketch from The Two Ronnies, a beloved British comedy duo.

Competitions – Rye Hire will be running a few competitions and events this summer, starting in June with the Lucky Dip game where customers can win sweets, goodies and monetary prizes.

Image Credits: Rye Hire .

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  1. Well done Andy and team.
    Always the ‘GoTo’ store for those bits and pieces, and Andy will have them next day if not in stock.
    All that, servicing mowers and still time for many years to man the fire appliances!


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