As I write this, we are coming to the end of further investment.
In October 2013 the last unit in our block came available and the opportunity to own and control the whole unit was too great so we took this on. It includes more offices and warehouse space. We have been incredibly lucky as the other units we have taken over have not been used that much so little was needed to be done to integrate them into the plant. This has been racked out recently to integrate it into the goods-in warehouse.
We have further upgraded the line installed in 2012 to increase throughput.
We launched some 50 products last month. To achieve this we are streamlining NPD – although are still catching up with some products.
We are now focussing on further streamlining production and staff development. We are coming up to our triennial ISO 9001 and 22000 review which will make July busy with 5 days of Audits alone.
2010 has been quite a year.
Some larger new customers joined us throughout the year and the market remains buoyant. We have used the experience to improve our processes and disciplines. We believe our quality and service is second to none.
Protein prices remain challenging with increases in January and March. 2010 was looking better but some suppliers are looking for further increases in 2011. I personally do not think the market will stand it and with the consumers having less money to spend the market could well contract, effectively being hit at both ends. So we are driving for further production efficiencies to continue to keep us competitive.
We continue to strive to give better service. We hit a record this year – getting an urgent order at 5:45pm on a Friday night and it was delivered to third party warehousing at 7:00pm that night. We do not offer this as standard!!!
The number of enquiries keep increasing but we are not really set up for smaller start ups so we have focussed on building bespoke products for established or rapidly growing brands. This is where we excel.
2011 is looking challenging but we are looking forward to it. We have a lot of plans afoot but will report on them as they come to fruition. We have moved most of our computers to Linux now (Ubuntu) with only one left running Windows. We now run windows as virtual machines to run this web site software and our accounts package only. As we get used to it we find more benefits than drawbacks. The main ones being security, effective spam filtering and cost saving.
I have not written since about a year ago and though an update was in order. 2009 has been unexpectedly busy although times now are probably as uncertain as they were last year. So far, through the recession, we have seen protein prices fall. This is expected to change dramatically. We have had increases in the last month which I expect may continue into 2009 if the £ does not recover. I suspect that January will see the political interfering in the economy come to an abrupt end, now that the December 2009 figures have been massaged to make the economy look good for the General Election.
We are still putting in long hours to launch new projects and keep the factory running smoothly. Keeping the factory ahead of what is required in the food industry is a challenge. We have bought a new blender this year, a new metal detector, sifters and powder transfer equipment. We have updated our working practices at least twice, revisited staff training and completely re-audited the health and safety aspects of the factory. We decided that keeping ahead is better than trying to keep up! This trouble is keeping ahead of moving goal-posts.
New Product Development is still a challenge as we try to meet our customer’s needs while running the factory.
The factory ran well last week – we are really up to full production again since the labeller arrived. We reviewed all the staff. With the web site up and running we are more focussed on where we should be, so we spend some time looking strategically at the position of the business and some time investigating/developing new products and future product/packaging innovations.
Strategically, we are positioned as powder blenders and are committed to filling powder products. Our mission is to contract manufacture of brand owners as efficiently and competitively as possible – providing them with the format and format innovations that they need. Powders use no artificial preservatives, have good shelf life, are more carbon friendly that liquid products, are more adaptable and are ideal for short to long runs. I often reflect that tea and coffee are predominantly sold as powders.
For liquid filling, we have spend some 10 years in the business and have partners who can fill for us, if required. This does not rule out specialist liquid filling if our customers demand it. But it does drive focus to our business.
We revised our company image last week with the new globe logo (incorporating the amino acid structure) and artwork. The web site was reviewed accordingly.
Yesterday we put the new labeller on line and were filling and labelling at the same time. This is a big help and is working really well. The quality is very good too – after some adjustments.
I spent Monday updating our search details on the web. All the details that cam up on Google were for the old Buxton address and company but Google was not listing our URL. So I searched for us and updated all the lisitngs I could – this took ages. Most update almost immediately – which is really good. The classic name was “ufindus but by Tuesday morning I discovered that they had found me along with a number of the sites I had entered my details on. However, Google is finding us through them, so who am I to complain. I keep hoping Google may find us eventually but although I have submitted a sitemap and URL and they are not reporting any problems, I still have no listings. Maybee the spider is off sick.
What the update did teach me is to have relevant keywords and that is my next job – to make my Meta Tags very relevant to the businesses I am looking for.
Today was a trip to Edinburgh. I left at 5:30 am and got back at 8:00pm tonight.
On Friday, the new labeller arrived from Centriplant – allowing round tubs and bottles to be labelled on line. This is the last manufacturing improvement we have had to implement following the move out of Buxton. Since 1st February, we have serviced all the machinery, made the factory up to food standards, installed all the machinery (improving the layout to make work safer and more efficient), installed electrics, pallet racking, plumbing (hand was sinks etc) and built the offices.
We did not have a labeller on line in Buxton, either. There we took product to the bottling line for labelling through its labeller – but that was not ideal.