In the year or so since Gordon McIntosh took over as MD of Bonnybridge-based catering equipment manufacturer, E&R Moffat, he has endeavoured to move the firm in a different direction. “The owner, William Moffat, had to take a step back, so the business needed to change its structure,” he explained.
Having worked for the company for 31 years, starting as stock controller and working his way through roles including spares co-ordinator, buyer, office manager and commercial director, McIntosh certainly has a thorough grounding of how the firm has operated. “I have always been ambitious and looked for better and more innovative ways to do things,” he commented, detailing: “We have really been looking at the whole structure of the business from the top down, trying to get the right people in the right places, and looking at ways to increase our turnover and output. Furthermore, the market is demanding we reduce lead times, which is critical.”
Therefore one of the first measures he put into place was a new distribution and logistics system. Moffat was already due to replace its fleet of 10 vehicles, from 40ft articulated lorries to smaller vans, which operated a delivery service from Scotland. So in 2015, after considering several options, the manufacturer appointed logistics specialist McDowell in order to give it access to 150 vehicles.
“The McDowell logistics model now gives us a lot more flexibility,” reported McIntosh. “And if we palletise the product we’ve got access to the pallet network, which is even bigger.”
Revealing that Moffat can achieve specific delivery dates and times with this system, McIntosh added that the manufacturer’s staff can access McDowell’s data to precisely track the vehicles and make any delivery schedule amendments. “This has cut delivery times, as we don’t have to wait on our vehicles being full,” he said.
As well as joining ENSE (Moffat was already a member of Cedabond), the business has asked customers for feedback. “We understand the pressures our customers are under to deliver, and we are trying to adopt those into our business model. For instance, we are looking at putting more finished goods into stock,” said McIntosh. “This could be grab and go products, hot cupboards, overhead gantries and Versicartes. These are things that we already sell a lot of, but I feel we lose out slightly on sales because they are not available quicker.”
Other major measures Moffat has put into place are investing in its research and development department and in recruitment. This includes a national sales manager to target lucrative foodservice chain orders, which the firm believes is a potential growth area. “All the massive chains need a single point of contact and the effort behind the scenes,” said McIntosh. “In the past they used to come to us with product requests, but we are having to go out and find that more often now. We explain that we can make anything they want, and they can have their own branding, their own design, their own shape and size.”
It has furthermore resurrected its apprentice policy, with three new apprentices joining recently – two in the electrical department and one for weld fabrication – in association with Forth Valley College.
Significant investment has also gone into creating an in-house electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) facility, including constructing an environmental chamber to test to ENBS standards. “Bringing this testing in-house will speed up the R&D process,” remarked McIntosh.