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When three friends with many years of experience in the building trade decided to set up their own business, it made sense to stick with something they knew. The result was ARC Building Products, founded in 2006 by Martin Nolan, David Orr and Fergal Simpson to supply building chemicals, such as tile adhesives, silicon sealants, floor levelling compounds and other glues and pastes.
A fourth partner, Chris Vickers, joined ARC last year and the company now also provides adhesives for the DIY market.
ARC established a 15,000 square foot site at Gorey, County Wexford – 5,000 sq feet for manufacturing and the rest devoted to warehousing. “We need more space for storage and distribution than for manufacturing,” Martin adds, “although we now make most of our own products. In the beginning we imported a lot; although we still import goods from the UK and mainland Europe, 70% of our lines are made here in Gorey.”
From the beginning, ARC used Tuckmill Transport, Depot 103 covering Wexford and South Wicklow, as its logistics partner. “Tuckmill was recommended to us by the manager of a neighbouring factory,” Martin explains. As the saying goes, they’ve never looked back.
“Delivery is really important,” emphasises Martin. “People want to order their goods today but have them delivered tomorrow. I don’t think we could offer a next-day service throughout the 32 Irish counties without using a pallet network of some sort. We build our own pallets, which are collected at around 16.00 hours every day and dropped off at our customers’ premises the next day.”
When ARC started, it shipped 8-12 pallets per day; now it averages 20, even during these difficult times. “Our business is stable, which is good, considering the recession,” Martin points out. “Since we now make so much of the products we sell, we can be much more competitive than some of our rivals.”
“Tuckmill provides a really good service, but TPN membership is definitely an important part of that. Without TPN, I don’t think we could achieve the same service levels, and TPN’s arrangement with TPN UK enables Tuckmill to bring in our UK imports, too.”
This year, ARC plans to expand its Northern Ireland business, with the help of a new sales rep for the region and, of course, TPN’s next-day service to the north. “Lots of hauliers and 3PLs have come to us to try to win our business,” Martin admits, “but we have no reason to change. Tuckmill and TPN have done such a good job for us.”
Michael Brennan started out selling giftware as Michael Brennan Giftware, and when in 1983, he added cane furniture, Creative Cane was born. Now, trade has come full circle to include basketware, ceramics, lighting and giftware, with cane furniture accounting for 5% of sales.
As a 100% wholesaler, Dublin-based Creative Cane supplies companies such as Woodies DIY, Atlantic Home Care, Harvey Norman, 4Homes and National Hardware. Basketware comes under the Celtic Willow brand, while Tara Giftworks covers giftware, furniture and lighting.
Delivering to all its customers hasn’t always been easy, though. “Stock is held in three warehouses – two in Finglas and one in Hollystown – totalling 40,000 sq ft. We had our own fleet of trucks, but the delivery cycle was six weeks,” Michael explains. “So if a customer had a delivery last week and wanted more, they’d have to wait another five weeks.
“I had been looking at palletising distribution for four years, but cane furniture can’t really be palletised, so I decided to reduce the furniture stock and increase the basketware and other items. Even the cane furniture is now flat-packed so it can be palletised.”
But the real breakthrough came when Michael heard Owen Cooke, Chairman of Independent Express Cargo, on Pat Kenny’s radio show. “I had gone to another haulage company, but couldn’t obtain all-Ireland rates. Independent Express/TPN offers a solution that enabled us to respond to all of our customers’ needs.” When Creative Cane began using Independent Express in January 2008, “it revolutionised our business”, says Michael.
“We retained one lorry to move goods between our warehouses, but 80% of our pallets are distributed through Independent Express/TPN. We could probably do our own deliveries slightly cheaper, but working with Independent Express has made our lives an awful lot easier.
“I don’t have to worry about lorries breaking down, drivers being sick and so on. Using Independent Express has changed our business dramatically, in a very positive way.”
Not many DIYers who pick up a paint brush ever give a moment’s thought to how their chosen colour reached their retailer. But for Cavan based Fleetwood Paints, distribution hasn’t always left them in the pink.
Fleetwood Paints is a 100% Irish-owned company and was founded in the early 1970s. Today it employs more than 130 people at its 20-acre site in Virginia, County Cavan. Fleetwood is dedicated to producing the highest quality solvent and water-based decorative paints and products possible for both the home consumer and industrial maintenance markets.
As a modern, innovative company, Fleetwood always has its eye on new trends and customer requirements, including the need to be more environmentally friendly. The result was the opening of its own Paint Laboratory in 1978 which was expanded incrementally each year to where it is today – the largest in Ireland. Here the company develops and tests new products, such as weatherclad and quick dry paints, which offer customers the same high quality they expect from Fleetwood, while at the same time using fewer components that are damaging to the environment. Over 15% of personnel is actively involved in research and development.
Such dedication does not go unrewarded: Fleetwood was the first paint manufacturing company in Ireland to be accredited with both the ISO 9001:2000 for quality management and the ISO 14001:1996 for environmental management.
However good the product, though, if it is not delivered on time, customers could well go elsewhere. Until four years ago, Fleetwood were using different carriers for different areas “…But this was not very satisfactory, nor cost-effective,” explains logistics manager Michael Yore.
“Cost is a major issue, and one way to reduce it is to improve efficiency. So we decided to find one carrier to handle the majority of our business and, in 2007, we turned to Langan Couriers. Dealing with just one company, instead of many, has created a standardisation which helps to streamline processes. It also reduced empty running of trucks and was an environmentally friendly decision, especially as Langan’s was part of TPN.
“In addition, thanks to Langan’s membership of TPN, we know the vast majority of orders can be delivered the next day, and all orders will be with our customers within 48 hours. We weren’t able to promise that sort of delivery before. We’ve increased the number of days we deliver, too, from three per week to five, Monday through Friday. And we use Langans and TPN to serve the UK.”
It’s a shame Langans doesn’t deliver elsewhere in Europe, for Fleetwood now exports to places like France, Belgium, Greece, Lithuania and even Israel. “Trucks always come in on time,” Michael emphasises, “collecting our orders in the evening. It is now a reliable part of our infrastructure and our customers appreciate the regular deliveries. They know if we say goods will be there on a certain day, they will arrive as promised.”
Mothercare Ireland was opened in 1992 by David Ward as an owner-managed franchise for Mothercare, the babes-to-adult retailer, with just one store in Dublin. Today it has fourteen – six in Dublin and one each in Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Limerick, Galway, Newbridge, Dundalk and Drogheda.
Getting stock, most of which comes from Mothercare UK, to the stores is never easy. Retail outlets have small stockrooms, which means bigger stores need daily deliveries; even the smallest one requires new stock three times per week. “We used to outsource our warehousing and transport,” explains logistics director Jonathan Ward, David’s son, “but increasing rents and rates convinced us to look for our own warehouse. We took space next to Independent Express Cargo’s Blanchardstown warehouse in May 2005, so it made sense to go to them for our transport too. “IEC then used partners throughout Ireland, but when they became involved with TPN, distribution was transferred to that network. It’s a very efficient operation handling a difficult and complex service. Each store has different delivery requirements: some want goods at 7.00am, some at 7.30 or 8.00, and others in the afternoon. “We reviewed our logistics business at the start of the year,” adds Ward, “looking at other logistics companies to compare rates and services. None could offer the same flexibility or guarantee to meet the timed deliveries at all our stores.”
Mothercare Ireland wants to expand further. The warehouse has grown from 38,000 sq ft to 50,000, with 30 employees sending out 150-200 pallets per week. “We have an ambitious schedule of new store openings in place too: Carrickmines opens in June, Mahon Point in Cork in the summer, and we are considering putting outlets in Sligo, Letterkenny, Portlaoise, Wexford and Athlone – but we won’t open anywhere unless we’re sure TPN can handle the deliveries.”
Recently in the Hudson Bay Hotel Athlone, Applied Concepts Ltd which is a company based in Kinnitty village founded by local man Mark Clendennen in 2010 was recognised and awarded as the Best Emerging Business in the Midlands region. This particular award recognises emerging enterprises with the best growth potential and the ability to create jobs despite the difficulties and challenges being faced in the current economic climate.
It has gone from strength to strength in the domestic market and is the leader in its sector.
Applied Concepts Ltd specialise in the design and manufacturing of abrasive blasters, blast pot consumables, blasting media, abrasive blasting safety gear, various blast equipment parts and accessories.
From hobby enthusiasts involved in the restoring of vintage tractors and classic cars, construction companies involved in the removal of concrete from shuttering and scaffolding, to specialist blasting companies involved in large scale brick renovation projects, Applied Concepts Ltd has supplied suitable blasting machines and safety gear to suit their needs.
This award would not have been possible without the simply unbelievable level of service offered by our local TPN depot, Hylands Express Cargo Ltd.
The company began dealing with Hylands Express Cargo Ltd in 2010 and have not looked back since. Applied Concepts Ltd would like to thank Ger Hyland, Avril Bergin and all the dedicated team at Hylands and TPN for providing such a service. It gives us peace of mind and ensures we can have a good nights sleep knowing that our pallets will be delivered next day, on time and in a safe manner. We use TPN on a daily basis to deliver pallets to our customers who are located throughout Ireland. Without TPN, I don’t think we could achieve the same service levels, and TPN’s arrangement with TPN UK enables us to bring in our UK imports, too.”
Applied Concepts Ltd
Republic of Ireland