Tell me about how you got into the Freight industry.
I began my career in the engineering sector though the industry experienced lean times in the early 90s and the majority of the company’s workforce were made redundant. After exploring other avenues, I came across an advert for an apprenticeship role with a logistics company named Gefco and decided to apply. I progressed through the interview process and thankfully stumbled into the freight industry.
Starting my logistics career in the overland groupage and full load department, our team were responsible for all aspects of the process from pricing, customer service, planning and monitoring all in & out-bound vehicles throughout Europe. It was challenging yet exhilarating and I remember it being particularly hectic. After completing our administrative duties, we would roll up our sleeves and go to support the warehouse team. We worked ridiculous hours, staying late into the night and over weekends. I didn’t mind though, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity given to me and they kindly paid me £29.50 a week for the privilege!
How did the position at Priority Freight come about?
I was fortunate to receive several interesting offers once I had decided on a career move. However, meeting with the board of Directors at Priority and discussing the opportunity of opening the company’s second depot to be based in the Midlands was really appealing. I had hoped to continue my career within the emergency freight sector, which I specialised in for a number of years to that point, and with shared aspirations to progress the business, we shook hands and opened shortly thereafter.
You offer a specialist service at Priority, has this always been a conscious decision?
Having personally provided scheduled and supply chain logistics to customers for many years before moving further into emergency freight, it could be frustrating having to accept some of the associated service limitations within this area of the business.
Priority Freight provide solutions to complex logistics challenges, delivering either critical or time-sensitive assistance to counter the risk or minimize physical downtime in productivity, and support our customers with optimized service levels as we fully understand the importance and urgency of their situation. We offer a responsive and reliable network with innovative operational expertise which has been key to our success and why we have become a leading contingency freight specialist in the global market.
What do you think you offer as a company that sets you apart from your competitors?
Our people. Their high level of expertise and innovation provide our customers with the necessary reliability and peace of mind. Combined with exceptional service scope and proven cost efficiencies, these are the key elements that set Priority Freight apart from its competitors.
The work you do must lend itself to some interesting challenges and highlights, are there any in particular that stand out?
Our role in the market offers many interesting challenges but chartering some of the world’s largest aircraft from or to diverse and remote regions across the globe and managing those associated risks to support our customers in delivering on schedule are certainly some of the challenges and highlights in our business. We just recently chartered a 747 carrying 6 Tesla electric vehicles involved in a round the world race from the USA to Portugal! Without our support and in organizing the special clearance for the vehicles to be processed through customs, the race would have been entirely compromised!.
How does your approach as a time-critical provider differ from that of a general forwarder? Customer care and updates, differences in SOPs…
There are numerous ways in which we install the confidence and trust of our customers so service and customer care is paramount for us to achieve the necessary sustained performance levels. Tracking our consignments using cloud based technology with round-the-clock management is one of the ways we achieve this objective.
What has been your biggest challenge in the role?
Some years ago and for a several week period, there was strategic strike action across the entire Spanish region. Protests and road blockades impacted heavily on local and global businesses and we were inundated! During that crisis, we chartered a significant number of aircraft and vehicles to and from the country, utilizing a considerable amount of resource. With the added complexities of the blockades, availability, accessible airports and drivers understandably concerned for their welfare, it was certainly a challenging time.
We consolidated multiple consignments on our aircraft, creating significant cost savings for our customers who were obviously delighted and grateful with our initiative. We also operated a number of ground support units across the region to assist our drivers in managing to avoid the aggressive crowds and blockades which significantly supported the entire recovery operation. Everyone involved responded exceptionally and we were immensely proud of our achievements. It gave us the opportunity to showcase some of our abilities for both new and existing customers whom we continue to support daily.
You have recently moved depot, how is it going?
We are settling well in to our new Midlands facility in Coventry which now provides us with substantial warehousing capacity. With several national motorway links within minutes of our location to further enhance our speed of response, and with state of the art monitored CCTV and 24hr security and manned operations, we have considerably added to our existing portfolio with sought after 24/7 storage, associated value added and comprehensive UK & International distribution services.
Our new Warehouse Manager, Steve Twist, possesses extensive experience in previously managing facilities for Dentressangle and LG Electronics and he is enjoying his new challenge with us. A section of the racking has recently been installed and we have already secured several contracts with a number of further scheduled meetings. To see a return on our investment so soon is fantastic and we are now ready to further expand in supporting our customers.
In the last 12 months Priority Freight has enjoyed a 25% increase in productivity. To what do you attribute this success?
We are supporting a wide range of customers, many of whom having to address concerns in their logistics and component supply chains challenged by increased demand and resource in infrastructure, capacity, quality and/or expertise. Downtime in productivity is a devastating and expensive issue so expedited and sustained contingency solutions ultimately become necessary to counter that risk.
We understand some customers wish to avoid or acknowledge a reliance on contingency logistics for obvious reason yet our services are increasingly utilised. Once we have the opportunity to highlight the advantages of our operation, and the cost efficiencies that we provide, customers value our service and scope, especially when compared to the cost and impact of production failure.
How do you define your company culture?
As a family company, we value our people, our innovation, performance and ethics which is why we continually invest in our personnel, IT, Infrastructure and support a number of charities and projects.
Our staff are key to our sustained growth and success. We have won a number of prestigious industry awards despite strong competition within the global market and we were recently ranked 24th in The Sunday Times HSBC International Fast Track growth 200, which is a wonderful achievement, and attributed to the professionalism and dedication of everyone in the company.
You have facilities across the UK and Europe, are there any plans for further locations?
Our new Madrid control centre has opened recently and is progressing well. There are several further locations identified which will further enhance and support our increasing demand in those regions.
It’s Priority’s 20th birthday this year; how do you intend to celebrate?
If our 20th is a memorable as our 10th, it promises to be a great day. We have a Family Carnival day planned for everyone and it’s a great opportunity for us to join together with colleagues new and old from each of our locations, and have the chance to meet with their families too. Our line of work can be stressful so it will be lovely to unwind away from the working environment to enjoy the day’s entertainment and celebrate this fantastic milestone…hopefully with some fine British weather!
Supporting charitable projects is something I know you are passionate about, is there a charity you have a particular connection with at the moment?
We will always be supporting a number of local, national and international charities or projects and one in particular at present is ‘Action For A-T’ (Ataxia Telangiectaisa). The charity requires funding for vital medical research to either find a cure or delay the onset of this rare childhood condition. They do some wonderful work to raise awareness and funds to help improve the lives of the children and their families. For further information, or if anybody would like to also get involved please visit their website actionforat.org