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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Stacking Up - Business Insights from Aaron Young: The year at a glance

Wow, I can’t believe we are at this time of year already - how time flies when you’re busy.

Business in NZ must be strong - Storepro has had another record year for sales. This means the retail sector must be solid. If we are spending in the shops, our warehouses and distribution centres need to be full to keep up. It requires new ways of thinking to maximise capacity.

Here’s my year-at-a-glance take on what’s been happening in the industry and within our business.

Growth in the business 

Auckland remains the key area of business for us. We’ve grown considerably over the past year, bringing on many new staff (42 in the Auckland office now) to meet customer demand. We’ve now outgrown our premises in Airport Oaks, and next year we’ll move to a larger warehouse and office in Penrose.

Our Christchurch branch continues to grow and develop, taking on some big projects and additional staff to keep pace. New business opportunities are opening up in other regions too, and we’ll soon have a much greater presence in the central North Island.

New technology leads the way

We have seen considerable growth in automated satellite shuttle systems this year. The ability to store and select a pallet using remote control is now much safer, faster, sustainable and accurate than traditional racking with forklifts.

One of our biggest projects in 2016 was a 16,000 tonne pallet project for WineWorks in Auckland. Using Storepro's latest technology, we were able to utilise just 70,000 square feet of warehouse to store around 1,440,000 bottles of wine. A few years ago the same project would have possibly required 300,000 square feet of storage space! So the cost saving and efficiency in Storepro’s innovation is significant.
 
I believe the next big thing in the industry will be the automation of tote bins or small parts also known as goods to person automation. Check out my last blog to find out more.
 
Second-hand racking still has its place
 
At the other end of the spectrum, Storepro has a dedicated division, Surplus Racking, which specialises in the recycling and reuse of second-hand materials. Second-hand racking not only provides a saving for the customer, but helps save our planet too.
 
This area of our business is also busier than ever - perhaps the old Kiwi ways of trying to save a dollar never really change!
 
Higher standards and health & safety requirements
 
Recent earthquakes have devastated our country, particularly those in the regions hardest hit. I hope we’re over the worst of them, but I’m glad they’ve led our industry to improve safety standards.
 
Higher standards and new health and safety laws have meant re-engineered baseplate designs; thicker and stronger profiles; and greater levels of compliance. Although compliance is costly and at times cumbersome for all, Storepro’s in house design and independent engineering teams make it easy for our customers to ensure standards are met.
 
Building happy, loyal customers
 
Earlier in the year, a customer explained to me, “You understood my business and you saved me $1m last year… thank you.”
 
In short, this was done by simply designing and building the warehouse storage systems correctly, directly attributing to their bottom line.
 
As I enter my twentieth year in this industry, for me, it’s not about the product itself but how it is used and applied to benefit and provide a genuine solution to our customers. As our company vision states, “We seek to develop the most innovative, professional and profitable experience for our clients. Our passion is for our customers, and providing them with an unparalleled level of service”
 
This is what keeps us at Storepro motivated - a loyal, happy customer. Thank you all for your support.