The UK’s leading palletised distribution network has been boosted by its performance over the past decade and particularly in 2011 when it has enjoyed its best ever turnover and profits.
Its 87 shareholder members are similarly positive about the future. According to a poll conducted by Palletforce, less than 10 per cent of those surveyed rated the economy as among their top three business worries.
On top of that almost three quarters of those who responded predicted their business would perform better than last year.
"No one has got rose-tinted glasses on saying that economic conditions are perfect, or that there aren’t any obstacles to overcome," said Palletforce Chief Executive Michael Conroy.
"However our members are showing the outlook is not as bleak as all that, which doesn’t surprise me.
"It is not only a reflection of their ‘can do’ attitude but also has a solid grounding in facts and figures that show our network is expanding in terms of members, volume, turnover and profit."
So far in 2011 Palletforce has added seven new members to its network and recorded its best ever turnover and profits – which is all icing on the birthday cake as they celebrate their 10th anniversary this year.
Just a decade ago Palletforce operated from a few Portacabin offices and had an air hangar for a warehouse. There were just 20 staff handling 500 pallets a night.
Now it occupies a purpose-built 380,000 sq ft Hub with more than a 100 staff handling around 10,000 pallets a night and around 4,500 staff working throughout its network of 87 members.
In such a competitive industry it is no mean feat to have achieved so much in 10 years but working within tight margins means there is always further room to grow.
Europe is firmly in Palletforce’s line of sight and revenues from that area continue to rise, while investing in technology and improving customer service remains key to the company’s evolution.
"At the moment we are piloting in-cab technology at five of our depots as a way of reducing paperwork and improving efficiency for members and customers," said Michael.
"We already know the technology works but it’s not just about introducing something for the sake of it, we want to know that it is the right move for our members."
The quest for perfection continues online for Palletforce as a new website will go live next month, offering customers and members more online services.
"This has been an area where we felt we could do more for members by offering them more information as well as increased functionality," added Michael.
"Our members are our shareholders so we are always looking at how we can make them, and in turn their customers, happy.
"As with most things, it is often the simplest way that is the most effective. By staying focussed on providing the best service possible and that is what we always try to do whether it means improving a website or investing millions in the fleet."
This ‘simple’ strategy is working, according to the Palletforce survey members are happy. The survey showed 85 per cent feel valued by the network and more than 90 per cent feel loyalty towards them.
It is not just in the members, many of whom, such as Bedfords Transport Ltd, have been there since the founding days, that the network has inspired loyalty.
Finance Director Neil Carpenter has been with the network since day one and spent his first few days on the job directing the cranes that were delivering the Portacabin offices.
"The fact that we have staff and members who have been with us since our fledgling days proves to me that we are getting it right," said Michael.
"The level of loyalty from our members is something I am so proud of and grateful for, their support in the early days and over the past 10 years has been absolutely vital to building us into the strong position we are in today.
"Like our members I remain confident about the future. With their support, we will continue to attract new members, continue to grow and before you know it there will be 20 candles on our birthday cake."