A decade of deliveries
29 November 2013
Q: How did it all start?
The time was right. I had got involved in the forwarding and logistics business straight from school and had about ten years’ experience with a company that grew from three or four people to about 30 during that time. I had started as the office junior and did everything from emptying the bins right up to operations manager, but I had always longed to be my own boss. My original partner and I had gained the experience, built up a good list of contacts – customers and suppliers – and felt really confident. We were tried and trusted and we had built enough of a reputation in the industry. So we went for it!
Q: What happened on the very first day?
We started the business in an office the size of a broom cupboard, at a business park next to Manchester Airport. There were four of us. For the first hour, we sat staring at the phone waiting for it to ring. Then, once it did, it was manic – literally, we were leaning over desks and passing phones back and forward. We never looked back.
Q: What was the first major job you won?
The Star Trek job – really! It was from a contact we had in Singapore. The Star Trek tour had been in Hyde Park, with all the props, staging, simulator, and so on – including the bridge of The Enterprise. Our job was to move everything to Asia for the tour there. We had to organise 200 containers of this equipment, all labelled up in Star Trek containers and colours. It was massively high profile for us and involved a huge outlay on equipment.
Q: Any secrets to success?
Confidence! If you are going to succeed in this business, you have to believe in your own ability – if you don’t, you can be sure that nobody else will. We had always been taught to make decisions and believe in what we were going to do. We have maintained that attitude throughout, and instilled it across the team. Our attitude is – let’s get the job done. That is particularly important in the fast-moving, high-profile oil & gas sector, where you are handling high-value goods and very urgent deliveries. If the client needs you to take a phone call at midnight on Saturday – that’s what you do.
Q: How does Allseas today compare with ten years ago?
We now have four offices in the UK, with 32 staff, a team of five in our Dubai office and six more people in our Brazil office. We also have two packing companies with 45 people. International Export Packing is a natural fit with Allseas and gives us an unbeatable combination of skills and services. Seeing a project through pretty much from start to finish definitely gives us the edge because we get a genuine feel for what’s needed at the early stages.
Q: Can you name a project that you look back on with particular pride?
The one that really sticks out for me was shortly after the tragic tsunami in Japan. A new US$40 billion nuclear power station at Shimane was ready to begin operations; it had not been damaged in the disaster and the power was desperately needed for Japan’s recovery, but new regulations meant it could not open until emergency power back-up was in place. We were entrusted with the delivery of five vast generator units, two equipment control rooms and other vital components to Shimane…and this was definitely not a job for the fainthearted. The various parts of the consignment had to be transported to Japan from locations in the Netherlands, the UK and the United States. The deadlines were incredibly tight and the whole project was really challenging and demanding. Winning the International Freighting Weekly (IFW) Project/Heavylift Forwarder of the Year award for that was probably the proudest moment in my professional career to date, and it just created a buzz around the whole company.
Q: So what’s the plan for the next ten years?
We would like a few more strategically located offices overseas. We want to expand our export packing, with at least one new facility in the UK – packing is the logical add-on to forwarding. We have started working with some high-profile customers from the retail sector, and want to build on that – 3PL services and more warehousing.
Author: Darren Wright, Managing Director