Gloucestershire logistics business moving in the right direction
Lima Logistics has travelled a long way since Karl Kirkley formed the business from his spare room with one man and a van in 2015.
"It's been a gradual, steady growth process," said Mr Kirkley, 37, who has worked in the industry for around 12 years. "When I started it was just myself and a van doing a couple of drops a day." Delivery needs and reputation has meant routes have expanded from the days of a daily drive from Gloucestershire to Cornwall and last year they opened a warehouse and offices in Churcham. They took the next big step when they joined up with the pallet network Pall-Ex at the end of March - just as the coronavirus restrictions came into force.
And while that might briefly have put a foot on the brake, the firm remains very much open for business and eating up the miles to a bright future. "We've organically grown, getting more and more phone calls for same-day deliveries," said Mr Kirkley. "The last 12 months it has rocketed. "Our team has grown significantly, and our recruitment plans will continue over the next three to six months. "
That acceleration has seen the move from offices at the Lansdown Industrial Estate to the new base and 6,000sq ft warehouse at Churcham and the big step to become part of Pall-Ex with a local, national and international freight network "We were at the point where we had a lot of eggs all in one basket, we needed to diversify the business," said Mr Kirkley, who sees it as a natural step in the company's growth. "We had an opportunity to join with Pall-Ex which was a lot to do but seemed to be the right fit for us.
"We launched at the end of March and the same week our main contracts were affected by the lockdown so initially we had very little left to deliver."
He continued: "Six months of planning looked like it was going down the drain overnight, but luckily some of those contracts were able to come back online and things have kept going. "It's been a crazy six weeks or so. We've got through it and we are looking forward to building on what we've got."
He said Lima has been glad of the outstanding support from Pall-Ex during the difficult period, enabling it to hit the ground running with palletised deliveries. "Same-day delivery is a niche and expensive way of moving your goods around so we were looking at what else we could do," he said. "Pall-Ex has given us a more diverse profile.
It goes hand in hand with what we do. "What we've been able to achieve is offer a wider range of services to local businesses, but at the same time keeping excellent service as our primary objective" He continued: "It's been an aspiration for us to move into the HGV world and that's something we have been able to achieve."
"It's given us an opportunity to offer businesses our overnight pallet delivery services and if it needs to be somewhere now, we can offer the same-day services as well." It is all a long way from his days with one van and the single regular daily route through the South West. "It all started in the spare room in my house," he said. "I had one main customer heading back and forth to Cornwall five times a week, that grew to seven days a week and then other regular routes to Swansea, Exeter, Bridgwater and working with local businesses."
And it was not just local deliveries that got the rapid delivery. "Someone rang up and asked about same-day delivery to Trelleborg," he said. "I thought it was to the company in Tewkesbury, but no, they meant to Malmo in Sweden. "We were asked to deliver this in a dedicated vehicle direct to the customer due to the urgency and importance of the delivery and we managed to get this delivered by 12.15pm after picking it up from Cheltenham at 16.30pm the previous day.
"It goes to show how important quick delivery can be, as sometimes it needs to be, for our Customers to meet their commitments to deliver."
He continued: "Our next step is to consolidate, get our heads down and try to offer our services to as many local services as possible. We are able offer extra routes with the pallet network. The difficulty now is trying to find companies that are open and to build our customer base so we can help more local businesses move their palletised freight."
"If we can help local businesses in the meantime, or perhaps offer the opportunity for them to re-assess their transportation needs, costs and service, that's our aim. We have bigger premises to offer storage facilities. It's just an extension and continuation of our organic growth."
Whatever lies ahead, the Lima team are keen to build on the strong bonds which have helped the company's growth over the past five years. Family friend Bob Nash, a former director of Churchill Insurance, has come on board as director with his wife Catherine as operations director and Mr Kirkley's fiancee Claire Morphew completing the board and looking after the finances. And the family feel continues behind the wheel.
"We've got a cracking driving team," he said. "Most of them are people I have known for years and we wouldn't be where we are without them. They want the business to succeed as much as we do." At Lima Logistics our mission is simple, to provide our customers with the best possible service, assessing each business requirement individually to find the right solution for them.
Find out more at www.limalogistics.co.uk and you can make an enquiry at [email protected] or phone 01242 898277 Pall-Ex Group is an award-winning network of hauliers formed in 1996 and is the only pallet network owned by its members and UK senior management team. As the number one network for quality, underpinned by ISO accreditations, Pall-Ex is a renowned name in logistics, delivering an efficient and reliable service backed by innovative technology and a first-class network of established SMEs.
With its headquarters and central UK hub located in the Midlands, Pall-Ex is the beating heart of the logistics industry, transporting thousands of pallets across the globe every day with support from its carefully selected international partners.
Read more about Pall-Ex at www.pallex.co.uk