A bright future ahead for Tuffnells

Tuffnells is embarking on the next phase of its transformative plan, readying the company for a new era of success. In May 2020, the company returned to private ownership after a loss-making period as part of Connect Group PLC. In the short time since, the company has already recorded a cumulative profit and now has a strong foundation on which to grow and increase profitability.

Speaking to Transportation and Logistics International, the company’s Executive Chairman and CEO, Michael Holt, shared his thoughts. “Since May, the progress made has been outstanding. We now have the right focus and plan in place to Tuffnells adrive the business forward. We have rebuilt our internal systems, teams and structures, and laid the foundation for the future by introducing long-term and clear objectives for growth and sustainability. In just six months, I’m delighted to see the business already returning to profit.”

In October, Tuffnells embarked on a new financial relationship with Leumi ABL, providing the company with stability for the future and the financial independence needed for its plan of investment. This includes the recent introduction of two new Customer Experience Contact Centres, which guarantee a UK-based customer service, and which has already landed positively with customers. With a long-term investment programme in place for IT and infrastructure technology, the company is also working through its plan of fleet upgrades, introducing more efficient Euro 7 compliant vehicles, better route optimisation and improved telematics.

One important factor in Tuffnells’ recent success has been in bringing in the right experience back to the business. With new hires in key positions, Tuffnells has also seen the welcome return of its trusted leadership team, with Ian Bland back as Operations Director, Chris Tresadern as Commercial Director, and Ian Brewer as Finance Director.

“I am thrilled to have Ian, Chris and Ian back on board,” says Michael. “This team has a proven record of success at Tuffnells, and all three are instrumental in our plans to turn the business around. They have already played a vital role in helping get the business back to turning a profit.”

Bringing the best out of Tuffnells’ workforce is a key part of the company’s long-term plan, which includes investment in new training processes and apprenticeships. A culture and engagement program called ‘Green Shoots’ is in place, and the introduction of easy-to-access academic qualifications and internal certificated courses are set to take the initiative further.

“Not only do we want to grow the business, but we also want to provide our team members with opportunities for growth and development,” Michael adds. “In addition to providing a great service for our customers, it’s also essential we make Tuffnells a great place to work for all of our team members.”TXM b

Tuffnells’ niche is in the transport of items of irregular dimension and weight (IDW), handling parcels and freight that other carriers can’t - such as tyres, automotive parts, bicycles, long lengths and even Christmas trees. Like many carriers, the impact of Covid-19 has required the company to adapt, most notably in its customer profile where it has moved from serving predominantly B2B clients to a more even mix of B2B and B2C customers.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of the industry in the transport of essential supplies. In October, Tuffnells and members of their team were recognized for going above and beyond in the delivery of life-saving equipment to the London Nightingale Hospital, picking up three awards at the Institute of Couriers’ National Courier Awards. The awards also recognized Michael by awarding him with the IoC’s highly esteemed ‘Services to Industry’ accolade, highlighting his important contribution to the sector throughout a long career.

Michael says “These awards are a fitting tribute to our fantastic team, who have done so much to help deliver vital supplies during a tricky year.”

Now on the right track, Tuffnells is ready for the challenges of 2021. “We have made great progress this year,” says Michael. “There are still challenges ahead, but we have a great plan. These are exciting times at Tuffnells, and we couldn’t ask for a more loyal, dedicated and hardworking team to help push the company forward.”

Services: Mixed freight distribution


Keeping things moving

Recognized for compliance, safety, and reliability within the rail industry, TXM Plant possesses one of the most extensive Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) plant fleets found anywhere in the UK

With more than 25 years of experience of working within the rail sector – and over 445 dedicated and professional men and women involved within the business – TXM Plant is today recognized as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs). Boasting over 260 RRVs and more than 900 complementary attachments to support a variety of projects, the company specializes in delivering operated RRV hire, plant operations scheme (POS) services and ALO TXM aplanning services across the country.

“In what is a somewhat limited market – where the barriers to entry are high and operations tend to be very capital intensive – TXM Plant has grown to become among the largest players in the field of operated RRVs and the provision of ancillary value added services to the rail industry,” begins the company’s Sales Director, Mike Heafield. “With nine strategically located regional depots, we have created a national footprint that offers TXM Plant excellent geographical coverage built around the busiest parts of the rail network.”

For TXM Plant, there are a number of routes to market, with the company having worked not only with leading infrastructure managers such as Network Rail, but also collaboratively with some of the UK’s major rail contractors, such as Balfour Beatty, Keltbray, Atkins and Amey. “Our principle customer is Network Rail,” Mike continues. “The support we provide through the provision and hire of our wheeled and tracked RRVs, heavy-lift Monster Cranes, and other equipment, covers two key areas, these being the maintenance of the track network, and small enhancements or minor project works. The latter extends to the renewal and refurbishment of elements like the track and sleepers, and also supports overhead line electrification works, the structural inspection and maintenance of bridges, tunnels and other assets, as well as off-track activities such as drainage and vegetation management.

“Through our machines and the staff that we provide to operate and manage them safely, we offer a dedicated service that is focused on the successful delivery of our customers’ objectives. We work as part of our customers’ team, planning and managing the activities of our machines in line with their expectations, with safety and compliance always at the heart of what we do.”

2020 has been a particularly important year for TXM Plant. In February, the company named its Chief Finance Officer Brian Reynolds as its new Chief Executive Officer (Brian is currently undertaking both roles). This move came six months on from Mike’s own arrival from Speedy Hire, and eight months following Richard Watts coming on-board as TXM Plant’s Chief Operating Officer, having previously worked as part of the HS2 project. Together, this new management team has been spearheading a cultural shift centered around placing the customer at the core of what TXM Plant delivers.

“One of our big priorities over the last 12 months has been driving a consistent way of working throughout the business, from the top down, in order to ensure that TXM Plant becomes widely recognized as being a truly customer-led, collaborative organization,” Mike confirms. “This has been made possible by ensuring that what we have in place is a consultative management team that is not only prepared to listen to and seek the input of its employees when it comes to making key decisions – such as the investment in new plant and equipment – but is also not afraid to adapt and try new things in order to best meet its customers’ demands.”

The results of the company’s efforts are already beginning to bear fruit, an example being its collection of the Route to Gold, Gold award from Network Rail in October 2020. This scheme promotes collaborative working behaviors, reducing costs associated with re-works, and embedding a culture of continuous improvement across the rail industry. The award recognizes the hard work and dedication of TXM Plant’s engineering and maintenance teams to ensure that safe and reliable plant is always available to meet the needs of the industry.

Other initiatives that continue to be pursued by the company include its 6S approach to its depots. 6S refers to an innovative methodology for transforming working environments, organizing workspaces in a way that is safe and efficient. By stripping out waste and creating structure, safety risks are greatly reduced and productivity invariably increases. With one of its depots initially being selected to pilot this approach, the company involved its staff from the outset in determining what to keep and what should be removed. What followed was a period of several weeks in which time the depot was cleaned and reorganized to give everything an assigned place. Once the process of refurbishment and reinstallation was complete, a series of regular audits were arranged and controls established to sustain the new approach.TXM b

Following the success of the first pilot, the methodology has since been rolled out across the rest of TXM Plant’s locations, and will culminate in the company’s planned opening of an entirely new depot in Birmingham in the coming months. Modernized and extended to handle the servicing and maintenance of the company’s expanding range of RRVs, the depot now covers an area of 20,000-square feet, including offices, training facilities, a test-track and a plant maintenance workshop.

Commenting recently on the new depot, Brian stated: “As TXM continues its 34journey of growth, this new depot is the next step in our commitment to long-term investment in rail infrastructure. Ideally located, with easy access to all major transport routes, and with state-of-the-art facilities, we are excited to support up-coming projects, working closely with clients both old and new.”

Also on the company’s investment agenda are its RRVs themselves, as Brian goes on to detail. “RRVs are certified in cycles of seven years, after which point they are each required to undergo a major strip down and repair program ahead of being certified for a new cycle. The age profile of our machines is varied; therefore, we have committed to investing £25 million over a three-year spell in both our existing and brand new RRVs. This will include wheeled and tracked RRVs, as well as general purpose machines, heavy lifters and elevated working platforms.”

With 2020 now drawing to a close, Brian and the rest of the TXM Plant team will be turning their attention towards what 2021 holds for the business, and what its priorities going forward will be as it looks to build on a successful period over the last year. “Our focus areas will include building relationships with a much wider customer base, which we intend to do by engaging with companies directly in order to ascertain how our plant and services can help them to achieve their outcomes,” Brian adds. “Rather than simply handing over a list of plant and prices, what we want to do is gain a clear understanding of how we can work collaboratively within our customers’ supply chains.

“At the same time, we will continue to do everything we possibly can to drive towards even greater levels of reliability, while making sure that we retain the talents of the best engineers. In doing so, we see no reason whatsoever why TXM Plant cannot cement its position as the leading provider of specialist RRVs and ancillary services to our customers.”

TXM Plant
Services: The leading supplier of Road/Rail vehicles in the UK

Making connections

Benefitting from the support of the global Yusen Group, Yusen Logistics (UK) offers a ‘can do’ approach to supply chain solutions

Aspecialist in freight forwarding, contract logistics and origin cargo management, Yusen Logistics (UK) has spent the last 35 years amassing a strong reputation in the United Kingdom as a reliable partner in supply chain solutions. Established in 1985, the company utilizes high quality infrastructure and proven IT systems to provide logistics services across a range of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, retail, healthcare, technology and food sectors.

As a member of the Yusen Group, Yusen Logistics (UK) is supported by an organization operating across 46 countries worldwide and with access to a global workforce of more than 24,000 employees. The result is that the UK firm retains the agility to stay flexible in the face of market fluctuations and changing customer expectations, as well as possessing the infrastructure required to provide resilient, market-leading services.YL a

Along with an experienced team of 1400 employees, Yusen Logistics (UK) currently has 15 warehouse locations, totaling more than 1.8 million square feet of working space. Speaking to Transportation & Logistics International, the company’s Managing Director, Andy Fitt, explains that much of the firm’s success has been derived from a strong focus on collaboration, service and relationship building.

“We have a service driven culture within our DNA and an all-important ‘must get through’ attitude that our customers deserve,” Andy states. “Yusen Logistics (UK) works closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements can be met, no matter the challenge. There is a strong desire to provide a service that goes above and beyond what others in the sector can offer. We want all our customers to feel that we are helping them improve their own key business metrics.”

As part of the company’s expansion efforts in the last five years, Yusen Logistics (UK) acquired ILG in 2017 to help enhance its offering within the fashion and beauty sectors, as well as grow its e-commerce services. More recently, in 2020, the firm moved to new offices in Sunderland to support its Healthcare Control Tower. New operating sites have also been introduced at Wolverton, Bradville and Northampton. According to Andy, technological evolution has been a focus, too.

“Like many businesses, we are concentrating on improving our digital roadmap to meet the needs of the company and our stakeholders for the next five years,” he says. “Each section of our business has a clear plan of investments and benefits, which are joined up to ensure we have a co-ordinated path towards continued success.

“The main thrust of our technology planning has been around creating better and faster management information so that all members of our teams, and our customers’ teams, can make informed decisions quickly. In the short term, of course, we have had to deal with the obvious challenges of Covid-19, developing applications that allow us to remotely book office space and hot desks in a way that is suitable for mobile handsets and tablets.”

As Andy suggests, Yusen Logistics (UK) has not avoided the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but after being named as an essential business early on in the crisis, the company acted quickly to ensure that it offered the best possible service in line with Covid restrictions. Aided by the proactive nature of its business continuity planning process, Yusen Logistics (UK) has maintained service to all distribution channels throughout the entirety of the pandemic, even to countries like Italy, where some of the most stringent lockdown measures have been in place.

“I must say that the response we had from our customers, suppliers and our Yusen people was amazing and I would like to put on record my thanks to everyone. I think because this is a challenge for us all - not just supply chain businesses YL b- we have really seen all parties pull together and make it happen,” Andy declares. “When the dust settles, we will look back and reflect, but the pandemic has been a great example of the necessity to have robust risk management and business continuity plans in place.”

The effects of Covid-19 are set to linger beyond 2020, but it won’t be the only issue that businesses are forced to tackle in the New Year. The UK will leave the European Union in January 2021 and so, like most of its peers, Yusen Logistics (UK) is now turning its attentions to Brexit.

“We have established a Brexit team to work on our internal processes and training needs, as well as holding regular briefings with our customers,” Andy reveals. “Like everyone else, we are trying to prepare for the somewhat unknown, but we have significantly extended our customs brokerage team and added 30 new rigids to our UK fleet to cope with increased customer volumes.”

Though the possibility of a much-needed Covid-19 vaccine continues to gain traction, 2021 still seems to offer a fair deal of uncertainty for the business world. However, like the positive growth trajectory of Yusen Logistics (UK), Andy believes that some trends are here to stay.

“In logistics, I think the online shopping habits we have seen will largely remain in place, albeit there will probably be some temporary initial shifts back to the high street as people enjoy getting out and about again,” Andy predicts. “Within Yusen, we are very excited about our plans for growth and we can feel a real momentum as we move forward with our digital roadmaps and five-year plan. It is pleasing to see that the market agrees with us and new customers continue to join us to share these benefits.”

Yusen Logistics
Services: Supply chain solutions

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