Industry Legends – Chris Morris

Tally Wade talks to a fifth generation family member of Morris Site Machinery, a company that is passionate about delivering energy efficient power and lighting to outdoor events

Morris Site Machinery is a British owned family business group that has been operating for 147 years. “The Morris business started as a grocery shop with a room at the back where my great, great grandfather, James Kent Morris, made candles. Five generations later, we’re still making lights!” says CEO, Chris Morris.

The Morris Group has had many interests over the years, but has honed its portfolio to reflect an industrial and engineering background. “Morris Lubricants was founded 115 years ago and became the largest private oil business in the UK,” says Morris. “We sold it in 2004 and acquired ArcGen (welding generators) and, two years later, Hilta Plant (pumps and power washers). In 2010 we added yet another string to our bow with SMC Light and Power (lighting towers). In 2013 we grouped all products together under the Morris Site Machinery brand, and now supply over 20 countries.”

Morris Site Machinery operates in several markets including construction and agriculture, but is rightfully proud of its position in the events industry. “Our in-house brand message is ‘excellence as standard’ and each of our 700 employees embraces this culture,” says Morris. “We have worked hard to secure a range of options for event organisers at different price points, all of which are ‘best in class’ for their category.”

Chris MorrisProfile

Name: Chris Morris
Role: CEO
Company: Morris Site Machinery
Contact: 0345 409 0280 /
Favourite tipple: Beer Lao, which I discovered while on a motorbike trip with my brother in law biking through Laos and Cambodia.
Last holiday destination: Italy, where I realised that the best Bolognese really does come from Bologna!
Cats or dogs? Dogs every time. I have a flat coat retriever and a cocker spaniel who thinks he’s the same size as the retriever!
Current boxset / TV must watch: Currently loving True Detective and Westworld, although still haven’t finished House of Cards!
Something people may not know about me: I have been the world champion at Coracle racing and have spent four freezing nights in a diesel tank up a mountain in Russia – by choice!

Deep Sea panels allow for remote monitoring and control

The company designs and manufacturers Genpac generators under its SMC brand, and also distributes the Denyo brand of ultra-quiet machines. “It is important to me that we meet the needs and requirements of the market, listening carefully to our customers (hire companies) and end users,” says Morris. “Following their feedback we have incorporated Deep Sea panels on both generators and lighting towers. This electronics system allows users to remotely control and monitor every aspect of their machine. It gives users everything they need to audit and make informed decisions about their energy and fuel use, and helps them specify exactly their requirements for future events.

Inmesol generator
The Inmesol generator’s multiple plug points

“We now also distribute Inmesol generators, bolstering our range from 6-500kVA generators. These are marketed as a true ‘plug and play’ solution for events as each unit has all the plug points you could need for the UK market.”

The Denyo generators are famously pink, which makes them both stand out and (certainly at wedding venues) ‘fit in.’ “The colour was a happy accident. I believe the prototype was pink and people loved it – so it stayed. It is certainly impactful – you couldn’t mistake it for anything but a Denyo machine!”

Lighting towers
The drive for quality and innovation led the company to develop one of the first solar powered LED lighting towers in the world. The SMC Solar is a 100% solar powered tower with a battery that can also be charged from the mains. It delivers 54 hours of light from a full charge. “Tests over a four year period in the UK have shown that in certain conditions the machine can generate perpetual power for the lights to operate at night and achieve an indefinite run status,” says Morris.

The TL90, now with telemetry (left) and the new SMC Solar (right)
The TL90, now with telemetry (left) and the new SMC Solar (right)

Manufactured in Lincolnshire, most of the SMC lighting towers now incorporate LED technology. “It’s amazing how things have raced forward in the development of our lighting towers,” says Morris. “Three years ago a product using metal halide lamps would deliver 85 hours of light. Today, the same fuel tank and smaller engine can deliver 160 hours of light using LED lamp technology.

“We have also introduced a telemetry option to the TL90 lighting range. Like on the generators, users can remotely monitor how much fuel they use, power towers on or off and access real time performance reports. These units also have GPS tracking so you know if one has been moved – useful as a security feature, and for knowing if your contractors have put them in the right place!”

As part of its commitment to improving the usability of products, the team has also developed a handy quick reference guide for each of the new lighting products using QR codes. Fixed onto the machine, a user simply scans the code with their phone to be taken to short video tutorials on how to use and transport the equipment. “This is all part of our commitment to raising standards on usability,” says Morris. “We want to help users in the safe set-up and efficient use of our products.”

Innovating for our customers
The day Chris Morris’ great great grandfather opened his first grocery and candle making shop, he decided there and then that he would run his business under the motto that ‘To do the common thing uncommonly well brings success.’

“He could never have known that his descendant would be as passionate about this principle as he was when he first opened his doors for business,” says Morris. “He knew then, as I know now, that providing customers with products or services that surpass others or are tailored to meet specific needs will ‘bring success.’

“Today our company has evolved into many markets but ensuring customer needs are put first and foremost remain central to how I run my business.

“The ‘customer experience’ is central to our line of enquiry, product development and customer service. We never claim to be the cheapest, but we do claim to provide the best value for money against our specific and varied customer needs. Our customers have a challenging job to satisfy complex and often unique demands, and it’s our job to ensure they have what they need, when they need it and know we are ready and able to support and be there to serve… something we are proud to have been doing for nearly 150 years.”

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