Pride of the Clyde

It is an exciting time for Bellshill-based Clyde Refrigeration, as it has an expansion programme that is underway.

The Scottish refrigeration supply and outfit specialist has just invested in a new state of the art showroom, an e-commerce website, as well as a fleet of new high-spec vans for its engineers. Furthermore, it has upgraded its computer system to enable it to offer real-time service to its clients.

From small beginnings the company has grown rapidly. Clyde was first established on 1 July 2002 and became a limited company in 2004.

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It was founded by catering equipment service engineers, Craig Dickie and Scott Bridges, who had already worked together for 6 years. However their jobs had been under threat from changes in ownership and a management restructure within the company they previously worked for.

“They saw a gap in the market for a quality service to offer to customers they were working with, and the decision was then made to set up their own company,” detailed Pauline Cribb, Clyde’s head of sales and marketing. “With a few thousand business cards and two vans, they embarked on the beginning of Clyde Refrigeration.”

Cribb herself is a factor in the company’s expansion plans, as she has just joined in order to grow all aspects of new business and work with the firm’s existing customers. “I will be helping to create our vision for the brand and company. We see all this investment as vital to the growth in future B2B sales,” she said.

Over the years, Dickie and Bridges have worked tirelessly to build a client base, which is continually growing into different market sectors.

Clyde’s main areas of expertise centre on commercial refrigeration and air conditioning. It offers service, including planned preventative maintenance and reactive repairs, equipment sales, and full installation from one piece of equipment to full projects. The dealer works with retail, hospitality, public sector and latterly facilities management companies. [[page-break]]

According to Cribb: “We offer our clients a 24/7 cover. With same day response times for all contract customers we strive for a first time fix on each job, and we provide full reporting on this to all clients.”

The firm has now grown into a small to medium enterprise, with 12 employees, seven of which are Refcom and F Gas-qualified engineers. Geographically the engineers are based in different Scottish regions. “This enables us to provide a fast and efficient response to our customers,” Cribb said.

This steady growth has been reflected in recent turnover, with £800,000 posted for the 2014-2015 financial year, and a healthy £1m projected for 2015/16.

Clyde is looking to add to its staff numbers too, as it is recruiting for more engineers to meet demand, as well as for new personnel in the credit control/administration department and a sales and marketing assistant. Cribb emphasised: “We really invest in our staff, both with training and giving them a good place to work.”

The focus of the company is to grow further by utilising a 3 year plan to establish it as the market leader within its sector in Scotland. “We will be building on our solid foundations, focusing on all aspects of the business, from sales and marketing, to recruiting the right personnel,” explained Cribb.

“Ultimately we want to provide the best quality services and cost effective solutions to customers, aligning with their business needs. Our new full marketing and email campaigns will assist with this, which will start in the first quarter of the New Year, initially within the retail, and hospitality sectors, then for facilities management.”

The new showroom is part of the growth plan, and Clyde intends to use it as a training facility too. “It provides a fabulous area to show case our product range,” said Cribb. “This allows us to demonstrate the equipment, and commercial clients receive training from manufacturers on their product ranges. It also enables us to keep stock levels of various equipment.”

Clyde’s main supplier partners are Foster/Gamko, True Refrigeration and Mitsubishi Air Conditioning. The firm is an approved Mitsubishi installer and is part of the manufacturer’s partner programme. [[page-break]]

However, Cribb was keen to emphasise that Clyde does distribute for other brands at all price points. “We work with brands that have quality products and are suitable for all our customer base’s needs, no matter if the appliances are at the top, middle or entry price point.”

One major customer for the dealer has been bakery chain, Greggs. As far back as 2002 the dealer secured a contract with the brand to provide service, installation and reactive work in 30 of its stores.

By 2005, Clyde was covering 80 of the 140 stores in Scotland at that time. Today the distributor provides the servicing for all 240 Greggs stores in the Scottish region.

Over the last year, Clyde has been involved in a major refit of refrigeration units within 80 Greggs outlets in Scotland. The operator wanted to dramatically cut its leftover stale product amounts at the end of each working day and so required new freezers to try and eliminate this.

Cribb detailed: “We have been involved in every aspect of the project, from the initial site survey, to scheduling work and carrying out the installation.

“We faced challenges with the layout in some stores, as we had to occasionally remove servery cabinets. We also had time constraints – most of the work had to be done out of normal opening times.”

Cribb feels that the project has been a success for the dealer. “This was a great project for us to work on as it involved the full team at Clyde and has exceeded the expectation set out by the client. Gregg’s stale products have gone down by over 60% as a result of the freezer roll out.”

While Clyde is coping with the rising cost of raw materials and diesel prices, as well as competing with internet-based equipment sellers, the firm believes its unique selling point is that it delivers a full package for its customers.

“We can sell the product or install it, and then assist through every step of the product’s life cycle,” said Cribb. “We can attend same day if equipment breaks down; we make sure the customer gets the best service.”

Next on Clyde’s agenda is looking at starting to supply and service other types of catering equipment. Cribb concluded: “We believe that everything we are implementing, from staff changes, new systems to working with key brands, is really cementing the future to obtain new customers and grow our business in a few key areas.”

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