Caltech Lifts founder Howard Renwick (3rd right) hands over the keys for the new van to Dundee Foodbank Warehouse Coordinator, Michael Calder, watched by (from left) Murdo Macintosh, Andrew Renwick and Fraser Renwick.

Scotland’s leading independent lift company, Caltech Lifts, has chosen its 40th birthday celebrations as the moment to help Dundee’s hard-pressed foodbank by donating one if its vans to replace one beyond economic repair.

The family firm, founded in Dundee in 1978 by engineer Howard Renwick and now run by his sons Andrew and Fraser, first heard in June of the problem Dundee Foodbank had with its van.

On June 1 the van, which was donated by a local businessman in 2013 and had been used to collect food donations and move them between its Dunsinane Avenue warehouse and its four centres, came to a grinding halt. An inspection revealed a new clutch and gearbox costing at least £1,000 would be needed to fix it.

After the foodbank’s trustees issued an appeal to local firms for a replacement, Caltech Lifts Managing Director Andrew Renwick offered to loan them one of the vans they keep spare to cover for ones out of use. The foodbank gratefully accepted and has been using it since, saving the £250 a week hire cost of an alternative.

Now, to mark the 40th birthday of the company, the Renwick family have given a Caltech Lifts van permanently to Dundee Foodbank.

They also approached Murdo Macintosh, owner of MM Auto Services, which maintains their vehicles, and asked if he could help. He immediately agreed to service the van and carry out all future servicing and MoTs on it free of charge.

Leading firm

Caltech Lifts is one of the UK’s leading suppliers and maintainers of lifting equipment, including passenger lifts, goods lifts, disabled access lifts and stairlifts to the Public and Private Sectors including local government as well as the health, construction, oil/energy, renewables and property sectors. It maintains more than 1,000 lifts maintained across the UK after the acquisition of Scotlifts in July.

It was founded by Howard Renwick in 1978 as Instrument and Control Engineering, calibrating, repairing and testing items such as boiler pressure gauges. Around 1985 Howard started working with a lift industry contact and realised his lifelong passion for precision engineering was ideally suited for this type of equipment. So he changed the name of his firm to Caltech Ltd — it stands for Calibration and Technology – and the rest is history. His son Andrew took over as Managing Director when Howard retired in 2013.

Speaking about the donation, Andrew Renwick said: “When I saw the foodbank’s Facebook post I was more than happy to help because I’d heard a lot about the great work they do. I’m delighted we’ve not only been able to solve their transport problem permanently but also get MM Auto Services to donate future servicing and MoTs. Thanks to Murdo for that great gesture.

“We see Caltech Lifts as rooted in the community its based in and regularly help out where we can

Speaking about the generous donation, Dundee Foodbank Warehouse Co-ordinator, Michael Calder, said: “We’re very grateful to Andrew and Caltech Lifts for the donation of this van and to Murdo for the future maintenance.

“Lending us a van since June saved us £5,250 and allowed us to continue our work as Scotland’s busiest Trussell Trust foodbank – distributing 80 tonnes of food a year to people in desperate need. Caltech’s van will keep our essential service going.”

Murdo Macintosh, owner of MM Auto Services said: ”I’m delighted to be able to help keep Dundee Foodbank on the road. They do great work and deserved every support you can give.”

To offer your own help to Dundee Foodbank email info@dundee.foodbank.org.uk or call (01382) 698020.