A former nurse and emergency despatcher who set up her own haulage company is making a healthy profit after three years in business.
Sandra Cottam-Shea has almost doubled turnover and the number of staff since founding SCS Logistics, based at Vickers Industrial Estate in Morecambe.
I love the challenge of working in haulage and logistics
Over the last three years turnover has gone up from £565,000 to just under £1m, and she has taken on four new staff, bringing the total number up to ten.
Sandra, 53, had also previously worked as long haul cabin crew before setting up the business, which uses pallets to transport goods across the UK and around the world.
She said: “We move everything from beer barrels, salt, office furniture, fire retardant materials, engines, farm equipment and feed, bathrooms, food stuffs, millions of tiles and building supplies. Cockles and mussels too on occasion! We can transport oversize goods with notice, but certainly anything which will fit on a pallet we can move.”
She puts the success of the operation down to a mix of factors: “We’ve been actively managing the accounts, the economy is on the up and we have realistic pricing.
If it’s too cheap we can’t look after our customers, and if it’s too expensive, they go elsewhere. It is costly running trucks. We get between eight and 18 miles per gallon and insurance, road tax, and legalities are expensive.”
She added: “I love the challenge of working in haulage and logistics. The days are long and full on but at the end of it I thrive on being accountable to my staff and customers.
Profitability is always precarious running wagons, just when you think you are ahead you get an expensive maintenance bill or we need to buy another unit but by reinvesting hopefully it secures the longevity of the company.”
Sandra’s company is part TPN, which has a distribution hub in Minworth, Birmingham.
SCS is responsible for deliveries and collections in the Lancaster and Isle of Man postcodes. They pick up pallets from clients which are taken to the hub in Birmingham and redistributed.
Goods which need delivering in Lancaster or the Isle of Man are brought up to SCS to distribute.
Freight forwarding using other accredited carriers means the company can realistically move freight around the world.
Sandra said: “We use Highway Express who are based on the Isle of Man in Balthane Industrial Estate, Ballasalla to deliver our IM bound freight. They have a shipping base in Heysham where we deliver our freight to and then it is loaded onto their trailers bound for the Island.
“We also work closely with Mezeron Shipping based in Glasson Dock and Ramsey in the Isle of Man.”
Sandra added: “Haulage is stereotypically a male environment but I have to say that throughout the industry I have been offered support and advice from all sides.”