Listers’ group head of transport, Scott Doorbar, explains the importance of a smoothly run distribution service.
“Transport is a consequence of what we do, not what we are set up to do,” said Listers’ group head of transport, Scott Doorbar, as he explained why managing your distribution fleet and network is key to improving all areas of the business.
“Getting your product delivered to site on time, in full, and in one piece is a vital part of the manufacturing picture,” he continued. “Everything you’ve done up to that point – all the investment in machinery, labour, raw products – would be for nothing if the products turn up to site late or in a poor condition. This is why the transport division should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost, in much the same way as you would invest in a piece of machinery.
“But it’s something a lot of companies don’t get right, because they were established to make windows and doors, not haul finished goods around the country.
“The thing is, if you get your transport strategy right, you will find yourself achieving your goals in other areas of the business.”
Across three main sites and six trade counters, Scott manages a fleet of 10 HGVs and 25 3.5-tonne vans.
Scott has been involved in transportation since he left school in the late 1980s, and admits that logistics is in his blood. He was employed by Listers in the summer 2022 to improve the efficiency of deliveries primarily to reduce unnecessary costs and to establish regular, reliable schedules.
The key benefit of this was to maintain the high service levels that Listers is known for.
“The customer service team bends over backwards to make sure their customers get their product as and when they need them,” Scott said. “Which is admirable, and I don’t disagree with their motives.
“I’ve been tasked with making sure that customers still receive the best service possible, but not by sending out drivers and vans needlessly. For example, without proper planning, you could end up sending out two drivers to the same area at the same time.
“If we can establish prearranged routes, with prearranged stop-off points, and everyone works to those timetables, then you actually end up providing a better service to your customers, because there is less room for error, and less time is spent waiting around for deliveries.
“It also reduces our carbon footprint, reduces the time spent on the road, and it helps us keep the product costs down.”
Another key benefit of Listers’ new transport policy is its status as a national fabricator. As the company has built its reach beyond its traditional bases of Stoke and Essex, Listers today offers all products to all customers, irrespective of where those products are fabricated. Having a transport policy that reflects this mindset is a fundamental requirement.
“Transport at Listers is a centralised function,” Scott said. “Co-ordinating deliveries from different factories may seem initially daunting, but once you get the systems in place it all works smoothly. Plus, there are many benefits for our customers. For example, they have access to a broad range of products regardless of where they are based.”
Scott explained that Listers’ Big Trade Counter has played a significant role in the fabricator’s national transport plan.
“In many cases we’ve been able to operate a hub and spoke system, where we can collate different orders from different production sites before delivery, to ensure orders are 100% complete,” he said. “We can also use the Big Trade Counters as a pick-up point for our smaller customers. This way, they don’t have wait for deliveries, and they can pick up their orders at a time that suits them.”
Scott says that while the transport department has helped Listers deliver its vision of a truly national service, as group head of transport he has got a unique view of the business.
“Even in the nine months that I have been running the transport department, I’ve seen Listers’ scale and reach grow,” Scott concluded. “It is satisfying to see all the separate departments link up to achieve that national vision.”