How Vaculug has been offering sustainable tire solutions since 1950  

Vaculug is a commercial tire retreading specialist based on a 12-acre site in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The company produces quality retread tires for fleets across the United Kingdom, while also offering effective and practical fleet management solutions. Jorge Crespo, Managing Director, shares the organization’s commitment to people and the planet.

“The last 12 months have been about consolidating the work we’ve been doing over the last three years,” he begins. “Following its change of ownership, the company has experienced a turnaround. While Vaculug is a well-established company with a rich history and all the benefits that brings, we were in a position where we needed to bring about cultural change.

“The business was not particularly dynamic, so we’ve been doing a lot of work to transform the culture and recruit talented, lateral thinkers from both within and outside the industry. The three biggest elements we focused on were people, systems, and investment. Several employees retired from the business at the same time, so rather than laying people off during the pandemic, we went the other way and started recruiting heavily. We are embarking on a journey to attract and recruit talent to help shape the company and generate this cultural change.

“We have also invested heavily in more modern technologies, equipment, and tooling to drive process efficiency. Additionally, we decided it was important to be more forward thinking, in terms of being less reliant on human input and more focused on automating systems and processes. From the pandemic to inflation, the last three years have been very volatile, and we’ve faced different challenges, but it’s been about navigating and weathering the storm, while implementing our long-term vision. It has worked out well. We are going to have a very good year this year, both financially and in terms of growth in products and services,” Jorge enthuses.

“Previously, approximately 70 percent of turnover was product-based. Whereas today, it’s more of an equal balance between product and fleet management services. We provide services to a range of clients operating in different sectors, such as supermarkets, recycling, waste management, councils, and logistics. In 2020, we handled about 50,000 vehicles. By the end of 2024, that number will have doubled,” he continues.

People and planet
Vaculug doesn’t just retread tires; it strives to reshape the future of the planet through unwavering commitment to sustainable environmental practices. The business has embarked on a journey towards a greener world, guided by the steadfast belief that every action taken today paves the way for a more sustainable tomorrow.

“We are in the recycling business,” Jorge explains. “So, we are effectively part of the circular economy. Our retreading processes extend the life of tires, reducing the need for new raw materials and minimizing waste. Vaculug is dedicated to reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling resources whenever possible. Our commitment to the environment extends to energy conservation. Our facilities are designed with energy efficiency in mind, incorporating technologies that minimize energy consumption. By embracing renewable energy sources and implementing smart energy management systems, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and leading by example. Equally, our vehicles are all either hybrid or fully electric.”

Vaculug’s approach to sustainability extends beyond the boardroom to encompass responsible corporate governance. “We are working on several social responsibility initiatives. We actively engage with communities, rolling up our sleeves and getting involved in projects that bring about positive transformation. It’s not just about giving; it’s about being present, being part of the community, and making a direct impact. We collaborate with local institutions and charities. From education to environmental conservation, healthcare to community development, our charitable initiatives span a spectrum of causes. Through scholarships, mentorship programs, and educational support, people can come and learn about different aspects of the company. In this way, we’re helping to pave the way for future leaders,” Jorge shares.

Empowering the workforce
“Vaculug is about being a team. We aim to attract talented people to join us and then enable them to grow within the team and alongside the company as it steers in a new direction. I am a true believer in forward thinking. It’s important to do things differently to how they’ve always been done, to acknowledge mistakes, learn from them, think outside the box, and improve on what’s been done before.

“We allow people to be creative. In terms of innovation, we aim to anticipate the future needs of our consumers, as well as take the developments in vehicle manufacturing into account. We also developed a sustainability forum this year, where we can brainstorm the next big thing alongside service providers and fleet managers. This gives us the opportunity to assess market needs. We held our first forum in April, had our second in October, and the next is scheduled for April 2024. It’s surprising how beneficial these types of initiatives can be.

“As an organization, we obviously need to make money to survive, but first and foremost, our business is about our people, and we want to make sure that we’re looking after them. We hold annual family events at a nearby activity center, where everyone gets together. These are great, successful events that help to nurture our family culture.”

Overcoming challenges
Looking to the future, Jorge would like to see the business in a very different space to where it is today. “The company is certainly going in the right direction. I’m a firm believer, however, that you can’t control the future. The past few years have been testament to that. The only thing you can control is your attitude, and how you respond to the events that are coming your way. I’m not talking about being reactive, but rather being responsive, so that you are capable of navigating whatever challenges come your way.

“Manufacturing in the UK is very expensive, when compared to other parts of the world, and the competitive, cost-effective products coming from Asia are a challenge for us. So, we need to do things differently to remain competitive. From inflation to raw materials and labor shortages, there will always be challenges, but that doesn’t mean they’re insurmountable. I see opportunities as well. We are in a market that is very dynamic. The UK market is at the forefront of Europe. You have to be very competitive, which means you have to be very resourceful as well. So, there is massive opportunity for us,” he concludes.