In this report for WindowsActive, John Crittenden, Managing Director of Carl F Groupco explains how the distributor’s services extend significantly beyond merely shipping hardware.
“As any good distributor will confirm, our main objective is to provide fast, efficient delivery of products within our customers’ required timescale. Daily we aim to achieve the highest On Time In Full (OTIF) service level. Everyone at Carl F Groupco is committed to ensuring that full consignments are shipped… we understand the frustration of not receiving a delivery on time or a shipment arrives but it is incomplete. We also differentiate ourselves by providing a consultancy service to customers.
To achieve these objectives, we are working hard behind the scenes.
Planning is a key activity – we gauge the stock levels needed to pre-empt demand and achieve our OTIF targets. Our IT department is an important part of this process: they identify the latest software and introduce it across the organisation to ensure all departments achieve our objectives.
We have long been at the forefront of IT developments to aid stock ordering. For example, we have a sophisticated MRP (Material Requirements Planning) system which enables our purchasing department to predict order requirements and seasonal trends. It also allows us to manage our stock value in the most efficient way possible. At any one time, we keep over £3 million of stock covering over 7,000 product lines. However, as much as we work with our computer systems, the input of our purchasing and sales teams is invaluable due to their depth of knowledge of our customers and their product requirements.
With increasing revisions to security, fire and durability testing standards, we make it our mission to be one step ahead of changes to standards so that we can advise our customers and help them with any product transitions. We are also members of the Council of Aluminium in Building (CAB): this gives us access to the most up to date industry standards advice and ensures that we can fully support our customers.
We go the extra mile by working with customers to support them through product testing and, as part of this process, we advise on relevant specifications. So often Technical Managers are desk bound but this certainly isn’t the case at Carl F Groupco: John Mitchell spends a lot of his time out of the office providing customers with support, including new product training.
To enable us to offer comprehensive product support we work closely with our manufacturer partners. We believe in long-term relationships and our association with FUHR for example dates back to the 1960’s. We have grown with FUHR to increase our offer from standard mechanical locks to the fully motorised 881 multipoint lock. We spend time selecting the most reputable brands and, when products have been chosen, we ensure that our staff receive extensive product training. Our entire sales team has visited FUHR’s German headquarters… they even know how to make a lock!
We work with a wide range of European manufacturers, all of whom are renowned for their expertise in hardware design. Because we have in-depth knowledge of the UK’s hardware requirements we often assist the manufacturers that we represent providing input into new product developments. For example, we have been selected as a hardware supplier for Liniar’s new range of reversible windows and, as part of our work, our PN-Roto technical team liaised with Liniar providing hardware advice and development input.
Our business strategy has always been to place ourselves in the shoes of our customers. This has resulted in our strong OTIF focus and has led to industry initiatives that ensure we keep one step ahead of hardware trends.
SmartSecure is an excellent example of our pre-emptive approach to product planning… with our new generation electronic locking and access control brand we are ahead of the curve providing a technical solution that is being embraced for both its high-end design appeal and by Housing Associations for its practical access management features.”