Everything revolves around new city – that’s logistics!

AN award-winning Wolverton logistics business’s chairman tells potential clients that Milton Keynes is at the centre of the universe!

WH Barley Transport and Storage carted off the top prize in the logistics category of last year’s Milton Keynes & North Bucks Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.

WH Barley, in Old Wolverton Road, Old Wolverton, has been going for more than 35 years, with chairman Peter Barber at the wheel.

Mr Barber, who is a respected figure in the road haulage industry across the country, said: “We’re well-placed for all parts of the country. I always tell potential clients that Milton Keynes is at the centre of the universe.”

Winning the award helped to keep the company’s profile high within the local community, where its lorry and van fleet is well known.

“We cannot say winning helped us gain new business but it helped our profile,” said Mr Barber.

WH Barley has a range of vehicles from 44-tonners to pick up vans. The most expensive units cost in the region of £65,000, with trailers adding £20,000.

The firm uses up to 30,000 litres of fuel every week, so Mr Barber, a leading member of the Road Haulage Association, is acutely aware of the big issues in the logistics industry as a whole, including competition from overseas, where drivers fill up for less.

But WH Barley is aware that it needs to continually improve as well as having a strong business sense.

Their phrase is ‘sweating the assets’, meaning making most effective use of vehicles, people and alliances like the Palletline Network.

Palletline is a ‘you-scratch-my-back’ arrangement involving transport companies all over the country working together to deliver goods to customers.

MD Steve Latchford said WH Barley has a flexible approach to customer needs. This includes providing a pick-and-pack function, if needed.

But he added that the company takes a long look at potential business before taking the plunge.

“We wouldn’t want to take on business where we are doing work for big customers who pay us on 180-day terms and turn down good work from customers who pay us regularly.” said Mr Latchford.

In that steady way, WH Barley has built up a £5million turnover business that employs 52 people, 38 of whom are drivers and has been steady while other logistics operators have fallen by the recessionary wayside.

But it also has a eye on the future, using modern technology, to drive new business.

WH Barley has a website which brings in new contracts regularly and is looking at ways to install telematics equipment more widely in cabs to help drivers save fuel.

Tris Anley, the sales and IT manager, said: “The industry average fuel consumption is 6 miles per gallon. If we can get that up to 8, 10 or 12 miles per gallon, we are saving a lot of money.”

l To see Natalee Hazelwood’s video profile of WH Barley, visit www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/business