At the end of last year, Dan Loria joined Certa Group to establish catering equipment logistics and servicing divisions at the firm. Alongside company director, Paul Carter, Loria has overseen rapid growth in just 6 months so Catering Insight caught up with him to get the latest update:
How has Certa Group progressed since you launched the new divisions?
The past 6 months have been better than we could ever have anticipated. We have partnered with a significant number of new customers whilst simultaneously putting the infrastructure in place to allow us to offer our existing customers an even better service. This growth has paved the way for us to create two separate divisions of the business.
Via Certa Logistics we offer a dedicated business that can not only handle all forms of catering equipment transportation, but also temperature controlled food distribution too. Certa Service meanwhile is entirely focused on looking after catering equipment servicing and maintenance. We have received some tremendous support from so many people in the industry, which is crucial in the early days of any business, and we are very grateful for that. We have also recently joined CESA which is something we are very proud of and also adds to our membership of the RHA (Road Haulage Association).
What contracts have you secured with major clients?
Our specialist food logistics team has won long term contracts with four leading high street retailers and we are now working with a number of the industry’s leading catering equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Certa Service has won contracts for a number of the UK’s leading hotel groups whilst also securing maintenance agreements at a large number of independent restaurants throughout the UK.
What recent projects have you been involved in?
Dining’s in Knightsbridge, London, was a project where we had to carefully remove a bespoke cooking range so that Trevor Jones of Green Design, working alongside ABDA Design, could redesign the kitchen to suit the venue’s change from an Italian eatery into a Japanese restaurant. It had its challenges because when the range was originally installed it was in sections due to restricted access. However we put the correct team on the project and it was successfully completed without any hitches in less than 2 days.
In February we undertook the logistics for Rational to its exhibition stand at the Catex show in Dublin. After the exhibition we collected and returned their equipment safely to the HQ and going forward we will be working with the firm on future exhibitions throughout the UK and Eire.
Furthermore, we undertook delivery of a Küppersbusch cooking range for Cuisine Europe into a site in Covent Garden. This heavy unit was delivered in two sections and, working around some difficult access points, as well as the other on-site workers trying to complete their tasks, this proved a challenging but ultimately successful project.
Have you made any investments in your vehicle fleet?
Over the past 6 months we have invested in the fleet with tail-lift vehicles for catering equipment transport and some refrigerated vehicles for food transport. We have also invested in heavy lifting machinery to assist us with the more complex deliveries that we are looking to undertake. Having the correct equipment is vital to a successful delivery.
How do you differentiate yourselves from the rest of the market?
We both have a clear vision that is focused on customer service but the main thing that we are able to offer is experience. Both Paul and I have many years’ experience of working in the logistics and catering equipment industries. We understand the needs of a supplier and also the needs of a customer; however one thing that is often overlooked is the reality of any given situation. Rather than just say ‘yes’ to everything – which has the potential to disappoint – we put our knowledge and experience into creating a realistic plan that can work for everyone. This applies to both aspects of our business, whether it’s a tricky delivery or a delayed spare part. We find honesty is always the best policy.
We are finding that our knowledge of equipment and the contacts we have built up in the industry give us a significant advantage. It enables us to offer good advice to customers who require new equipment and put them in touch with the appropriate contact/supplier/manufacturer. We also have an excellent warehouse facility offering a full project inventory and storage service. This is where a dealer has all the equipment for their project delivered to our warehouse where it is then checked in and marked off against their drawing, securely stored, and then delivered to site as requested. This is proving very popular.
Which sectors of the market are you looking to work with?
For transport we are looking to work with manufacturers, dealers and suppliers and for service it will be mainly end users, but we are currently working on a service package to encourage manufacturers and dealers to use us for their warranty work.
How many staff are at Certa Group?
We now have six people working for Certa and with our current growth we will be looking to add to this soon on both the administration and sales sides of the business.
What is the overall business strategy?
We feel that we now have a great business model to take us forward. We have clear goals to grow both sides of the business whilst maintaining the customer service levels that we believe in. This is of course one of the hardest things to maintain but we do think that creating a ‘work ethos’ within our company is the key to creating a successful brand.
What do you think the future holds for the Certa Group?
We are very excited about the next few months and beyond. We have a new building being constructed which we hope to take ownership of very soon and this will give us a purpose built/personally specified office for our administration team. This will enable us to take Certa onto the next level for service, the stocking of spare parts, and logistics. We are also working hard on an exciting development that we hope to announce very soon to the industry which will enhance our logistics opportunities for our customers whilst improving our company eco credentials.