Effective storage and racking solutions are a crucial part of any merchant operation, facilitating more efficient stock management and helping to present a professional image to your customers. As the company marks 25 years of providing storage solutions to the merchant sector, PBM speaks with Filplastic’s Managing Director, Paul Taylor, to discuss the firm’s work with builders’ merchant businesses of all sizes.
Racking up a quarter of a century in business this year, Yorkshire storage specialist Filplastic UK reports that it has built up an impressive client base in the builders’ merchant industry and has worked with practically “every size of company from single-branch independents to the giant national chains”.
Filplastic’s extensive portfolio sees it supply “everything from small parts bins and van storage kits through to turnkey design and fit-outs projects for merchants”, encompassing trade counters, shops, warehouses and storage yards. The company says that it is often the first to be contacted when a major industry player decides on the location for a new depot, called upon to produce innovative design layouts and then to supply the storage and racking solutions that bring the designs to life.
Indeed, it is an impressive achievement for a company that started out as a two-man operation selling wire storage baskets in 1993. That year, Filplastic was founded by current owner and Managing Director Paul Taylor and his then business partner, John Jones, as a supplier of plastic-coated, wire mesh baskets to hold plastic fittings.
“We started with one or two products after spotting a gap in the market,” explained Paul. “We were convinced the wire baskets would revolutionise storage in the builders’ merchant industry, making the whole sector more efficient. Although it was a hard sell at first, we were no strangers to builders’ merchants and gradually began to convince them of the value of the baskets. Over time, the industry bought into them in a big way and we still get substantial orders for them.”
Paul stressed that the baskets were a hit because they made the lives of staff and customers easier — trade counters became more ordered, making products easier to find and gather, and the plastic coating guarded against clothes being ripped or worse still, staff being cut.
“It was providing this initial, valuable solution that enabled us to build a lot of trust in the sector. That definitely helped us get further embedded with builders’ merchants and opened up a lot of opportunities,” he continued.
At this time, Filplastic had a warehouse based in Whitstable, Kent. John manned the southern office while Paul, a Yorkshireman through and through, worked the north. The ambitious duo soon found that as business took off, they were able to expand their services to clients, and started to provide a greater range of products.
Paul said: “As customers appreciated the levels of service they received from us, they started to request other products. We obliged to the point where we now provide full turn-key solutions to merchants. In fact, we’re one of the largest suppliers of cantilever racking, providing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth to merchants all over the country, and for the trade counter area, we supply top quality shop shelving, counters and display equipment.
“From day one, our philosophy has been to work with customers towards a common goal of improving their image and driving profitability, because being customer-driven creates the best outcomes for all.”
When John decided to retire from the business, Paul bought his shares and moved the business to East Yorkshire where it is still based. Over the years, he says that innovation has “never stopped”, adding new ideas and products to the company’s ever-growing portfolio.
One such line is mezzanine floors, as Paul explained: “During the recession, many merchants wanted to realise more space but didn’t want the costs and disruption of moving. Our solution was mezzanine flooring, which significantly increases storage space but for a fraction of the cost. This has proved to be a really positive area of growth for us.”
Filplastic’s record of growth looks set to continue as the business has recently been granted planning consent for a bespoke warehouse and office complex in East Yorkshire. Paul and staff have also been throwing themselves into their 25th anniversary celebrations, and have made sure to include suppliers, customers and their local community in on the fun.
“Reaching such a milestone is a very proud achievement for me,” Paul said. “Who could predict that when we started out selling baskets 25 years ago, we’d grow to become one of the UK’s leading racking suppliers? It has been a great journey.
“We’ve achieved it because we’ve always innovated, and we’ve always diversified to provide the products our customers wanted, often before they knew they wanted them. That is how we intend to continue, through innovation, expertise and the high levels of customer service we are renowned for.”