Tell me about how you got into the Freight industry…
Same as most people 30 years ago, I drifted into it. No one ever left school wanting to work in logistics in the early 80s. I worked at Fedex and then another courier company before leaving to go to travelling in Australia. When I returned, I worked for Gefco on the European desk. That was me hooked – I’m here doing the same job 25 years later, but it’s, instead, at my own company and I love it.
What’s your background in shipping?
My background has been almost entirely European road freight. After working for Gefco in Coventry, I loved to a small forwarder in Milton Keynes, of which I then became a director. In 1999, I left to start up Retail Transport Services (RTS). Retail Transport Services quickly evolved. From consolidating furniture and distributing into UK depots, to changing direction when the demand for time-critical express transport became apparent, something that is still at the core of the business today.
What do you think you offer as a company that sets you apart from your competitors?
It would have to be our knowledge & experience. We are a company staffed by freight professionals. Each person on the desk, no matter what age now, started their career in their teens or early twenties like myself, and we’re all still doing it now. We have a combined total of more than 250 years in the business… that’s a lot of knowledge & experience from a varied range of logistical backgrounds! Transport has been a lifelong career for everyone that works here and we use that expertise to benefit our clients.
What has been your biggest challenge in the role?
Maintaining the bar we’ve set for ourselves and ensuring we all deliver a high standard of service to preserve the integrity that we had from the very start. Making sure this remains top of everyone’s list is a challenge I relish and enjoy. It’s a delight to see the philosophy we had at RTS from the beginning is still taken on board today and consistently delivered.
Your biggest achievement?
This year is our 20th anniversary, which is quite an achievement, especially when I think about how I started out in a box of a room! Dave Lewis (Director) joined me in the box in 2007. To think of where we are today; 14 of us in a brand new development located in Coventry city centre, plus a very successful office in Manchester, RTS has come a long way. We have continually developed and grown into a company that we are very proud of. To still have the same clients/companies that believed in us at the very start through all these years, this alone proves our dedication to the original ethos.
How would you define your company culture?
An honest and open approach to transport.We don’t sell something we can’t do.It’s a simple business model and we stick to it.It’s one of the many reasons why we’ve had the continual growth.People appreciate being fully informed, they’ll always respond to an open & honest service provider.
How do you get the best out of your team?
By leading from the top. Even after all these years in the business I still enjoy running a desk and getting involved in the day to day moving of freight. By setting an example of how I expect the clients to be treated, what level of service that needs to be provided it allows me to expect the same from our colleagues. We have a great team at RTS, each person giving the best they can each day has become the norm.
What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Quality standards. No matter how much you say or preach how good you are, sometimes it can help being audited to a standard that officially tells people what you do. We’ve been GDP compliant 2013/C 343/01 for two years now, which demonstrates our conformity within the pharmaceutical supply chain; in November we gained ISO9001:2015 UKAS status. It shows that we can back up the promise we make to our clients regarding the level of service they demand.
What are your thoughts on the new alliances?
As a freight forwarder, we have an entire company based on alliances with suppliers all over Europe. Having the ability to forge these alliances, to develop relationships and then in turn offer more services to our client base gives us the ability to stay one step ahead of the competition. We started our GDP quality standards with this in mind: with GDP 2013/C 343/01 compliance we can demonstrate a proven robust platform for Good Distribution Practices by ensuring transparency and security of data within the pharmaceutical supply chain.
What about market disruptors – how do you see outsiders changing the industry?
The industry has continually evolved over the years, new technologies and new ways of working have always entered the market place and that’s not going to change. Politics seems to be the biggest challenge we’ll face in a generation but it’s those companies that are prepared to meet the challenge, that have to ability to adapt that will continue to succeed in what could be a difficult or thriving arena.
How do you decide which new business to go after?
We try to target freight that is part of our core make-up: European freight from small pallets up to full loads – standard or express. This is the work we do well, and it enables us to offer a service level that our clients can completely rely on. That’s not to say we do not enjoy a challenge, should someone need special equipment. Deep sea, waste licenses or specific routings – we have freight professionals with a wide range of knowledge and contacts.
What are some of the common challenges you face?
The biggest challenges are the ones outside our control. Exchange rates, market capacity and increased operational costs set by governments in tolls and taxes. Managing these and delivering what our clients expect has become something that is now part of the job.
What are your expansion plans over the next 12 or 24 months?
The next 12-24 months are going to be an interesting time not just for the transport industry but for everyone. At RTS we have always developed along with our clients needs. We have the ability to adapt, the training and technology to support and the infrastructure in place to deliver on our promises.