View From The Summit:
Name: Allan Brooker
Title: Managing Director
Company: ARRA Distribution Limited.
Question: How did you get into the temperature-controlled distribution sector and what is your role within ARRA Distribution Limited.
Answer: After a successfully career with NR Evans and after its sale, I felt I needed to reignite the excitement I had experienced working with Neil Evans and the NR Evans team. All that was essentially important to me seemed to be diluted in the larger corporate world. From this I took the decision to resign and build from scratch ARRA Distribution Limited, a company formed from my kitchen on a Saturday night. With the help of my business partner Robert who has supported and taken on the role of Operations Director, we have now grown a substantial business, which has contracts supplying our services to all the major retailers.
My role fundamentally is account management and relationship development. I get involved in everything the business does from LinkedIn posts, vehicle livery to major decisions on purchase finance and strategy. Some would say I am a demanding character but equally a man of my word, firm but always fair, and the ARRA ethos is no different. We deliver a fair price, we do what we say we will, and we always exercise honesty, trust and believe in our service and value the people we employ.
Our operation has grown extremely quickly operating from four UK sites and this has made us extremely proud of what we have achieved. But we are mindful that we cannot rest or lye on our laurels, this industry demands passion commitment 24/7, once you lose your focus you lose your direction and services slips. Our vision is to constantly strive to improve.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature-controlled vehicles ARRA Distribution Limited operates?
Answer: ARRA have a fleet of Mercedes Actros units supported by a trailer fleet which is a combination mix of single and dual temperature-controlled trailers, operating from our 4 UK sites, Cross Hands (South West) Skelmersdale (North West) Bedford (South West) and Tamworth (Midlands) with our operation looking to open a further site in the South by the end of the year to support a major retailer.
Question: What has been the most important technical development in your temperature-controlled bodies and refrigeration systems in recent years and how has it impacted on your operations within ARRA Distribution Limited.
Answer: Diesel fridges are becoming more efficient with manufacturers now all to aware of the environmental impact they have. ARRA are constantly updating its fleet for newer more efficient running trailers, which will deliver a lower usage of diesel keeping our fuel burn down. We are always monitoring innovations in refrigeration, and work closely with our suppliers who have innovations being introduced into the market which ARRA will trial when proven, enabling us to reduce our environmental impact. We are keen to do our bit and endeavour where possible to introduce new innovations to our feet at the earliest opportunity, reducing our carbon footprint.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
Answer: The entire ARRA Fleet is fitted with telematics, and Vision-Track forward facing cameras fitted to all units, providing planning teams managers and trainers with live updates on all vehicle locations, and routes taken. This combination allows and enables us to provide our teams and our customers with accurate delivery times, and information that best route taken is observed. The additional key benefits these systems allow is to provide driver style management information, enabling our training department to provide updates and driving style enhancements to our driving force assisting us to be efficient in the miles run per shift and ensure maximum mpg.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: ARRA operate a 24:7:365 business and our customers require us to have a constant flow of quality communication in place to allow information updates on delivery and OTP.
Quality Training and compliance standards have more than ever been a requirement request from our customers, to ensure secondary store deliveries and primary inbound deliveries are carried out safely meeting with the customers expectations. The safety of our staff is paramount to the operation. Best safe practice and the safe wellbeing of our staff is something ARRA take on board as essential to everything we do. The operational safe processes are focused upon with our standards being constantly reviewed and observed, exceeding the basic requirements, and that requested of our customers. Safe systems of work are constantly under review and updated through additional training and information shared, and ARRA strives to be a leader of example where safety is concerned, meeting with and exceeding our statutory obligations, and the latest customer and industry requirements. With standards constantly now being reviewed and observed, all our team at ARRA Distribution are empowered to make decisions, and are able to offer reactive positive solutions to meet with our legal and customers’ expectations and requirements.
Question: What environmental measures do ARRA Distribution Limited incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: The wellbeing of our environment is essential to protect us all and our future generations, and although we are a new to the industry, we have already trailed and are seeking to invest in carbon free fuel alternates to add to our fleet, driving down our carbon footprint. There is much to do here and to understand, but we aim to be at the forefront of innovation and keep a close eye on what we can do to ensure we drive emissions down, our fleet is all Euro 6 tractor units, which meets with current legislation. We work closely with our customers in order to continuously reduce the number of miles we do on their behalf. Minimise the amount of “empty running” undertaken by our vehicles at all times. We aim to utilise the most fuel efficient vehicles available in the market and to get their best vehicle efficiency from our drivers who we monitored daily per journey on MPG performance with a stretching target, and we continually raise the awareness of our staff of the requirement to minimise fuel consumption, minimise idling time and protect the environment. We provide comprehensive and continuous driver training, we monitor the “miles per gallon” of our drivers and vehicles on a weekly basis (by day/journey) and address poor performances.
Question: Now that the UK has left the European Union, have you noticed any changes with your business since 31st January?
Answer: Brexit for the time being during the Covid-19 outbreak seems to have been relegated to the back of our minds.
The main impact of Brexit on the industry prior to January 31st seems to have seen customers, seeking support for temporary storage options. With the outbreak of Covid-19, it’s far to early to say what impact Brexit will have on our business, however we will monitor change and keep close to the industry to identify any looming impact this may have on our operation. We are however mindful that change is inevitable and will model our business to embrace change if and when appropriate, we are confident we can work with the outcome and impact it may or may not have upon our business.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
Answer: We are a privately-owned business employing only the very best people from our industry and always seeking to attract new talent. We are forward thinking customer focused individuals who understand people and the importance of customer service performance. Our family and individual values, which embrace honesty and integrity and an ethical approach to what we do, is what our company has been founded upon and will continue to be at the core of everything we do. We value our people and their passion – enthusiasm, and their professional approach to deliver and meet with our customers’ expectations. We started ARRA with nothing more than great industry relationships, and have built our business upon these and the trust our customers have in ARRA Distribution Limited that we will do what we say we will do. We have overcome all the difficulties of start-up, of no less than 4 depots, with I have to say zero industry support, pretty much the case if you can’t pay up front then tough! Fuel has been a challenge as was insurance in the first period. We have built stronger and stronger relationships on our journey, working with excellent supporting customers, and exceptional suppliers. We have acquired BRS accreditation, and also become members of the RHA, we have also completed x 3 audits to work towards earned recognition which cannot be achieved until 2 years in. I am extremely proud of TEAM ARRA and all it represents. At our core is honesty, understanding and great people who can make a difference. Our vison is to be the best turn to temperature-controlled operation within the UK, not the biggest or largest, simply the best. One which a customer can become reliant upon building true partnership and collaboration.