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Building a strong team
12 December 2012
Stuart Terris of Meachers Global Logistics talks to HSS about his career, from washing lorries for pocket money to becoming managing director. He also sings the praises of the 'Complete Logistics Solution' that help
HSS: Tell me about your background and how you came to manage Meachers? Stu Terris: Although I'm a chartered accountant, trucks, transport and Meachers have always been in my blood, but then you might expect that given that my father Bob Terris joined the business some 50 years ago, being MD for 30 of them. At 9 years old, I was washing lorries to earn pocket money and even at that early age, I knew it was a forgone conclusion that I would one day join the company.
It certainly has been an interesting journey that has led to me pulling into the md's parking space.
Even during my years of study I was never far away from Meachers, returning during the holidays to work in the warehouse, traffic office or wherever I was needed.
As a young graduate, I joined an accountancy firm, where I worked as a Chartered Accountant until 1997 specialising within the SME and transport sector. I enjoyed the advisory work and forensic analysis; skills that I have drawn on in many of my roles, but I didn't want to become immersed in the world of the audit and applied for a role at Meachers.
I remember my first 'rookie' assignment was to implement an IT operating system. It came naturally to me having a good understanding of, and being comfortable around, technology. I think back then I was in the minority.
My next roles were in the traffic office and warehouse. Here I developed a detailed understanding of the operational side of the business, which led to running the warehouse facilities for a year, before taking on the role of management accountant.
In 2008, I was appointed Operational Director and in 2010 Deputy Managing Director. Last year I took over the company replacing my father as Managing Director. The move was not inevitable, but part of the company's strategic plan which identified a clear need for succession.
HSS: Where do you see the company in 5 years time? ST:With such an unsettled global economy at the moment it's difficult for any business to predict. However, despite the challenging economic conditions I still have ambitious plans to keep the company moving forward. Obviously we are not impervious to recession, but we have the advantage of being able to draw on 50 years of experience to ensure we ride out the storm.
The important thing for us now is to ensure we focus on delivering value to our customers and focus on the challenge of running our operations as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
HSS: What makes Meachers stand out? ST: Meachers has always adopted a consultative approach and thoroughly analyses a company's business requirements before developing what we call our 'Complete Logistics Solution'. This includes everything from freight forwarding and warehousing, through to supply chain management, transport and distribution.
The model is based around four key phases and underpins the company's business approach by focusing on the principles that lie at the core of the organisation - knowledge, solutions, relationships and delivering excellence.
We draw upon the expertise and professional skill within the organisation to analyse problems and gain insight into the challenges that customers face. We then apply this expertise to find a flexible and fluid solution to even the most complex logistics problems.
HSS: How has this approach evolved? ST: For us, these principles have always remained the same, however, we realise the importance of continually evolving and developing to meet industry demands.
One of the greatest challenges we have faced in recent times is ensuring that we maintain our high standards of service provision while minimising costs. Our experience combined with IT investment ensure that we are able stay one step ahead of industry demands.
HSS: What is the key challenge facing the industry? ST: I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be recruiting good people. Referring back to my earlier point, succession planning is key to our business strategy, yet the number of graduates coming into the logistics industry is falling year on year, which is a worry.
Part of the Meachers success story is its people. The management team was strengthened in the mid 2000's with appointments to reflect the core skills needed to run a global logistics firm, and that team of which I was part and now lead is well placed to take the company forward. I can't overstate the importance of having a strong team.