Known throughout the North East for eye-catching ads and low prices, the name behind Frank’s The Flooring Store is a thriving business with a modern, fast-paced and seamless operating model.

Established in the mid-Nineties, the flooring business with its head office in Shildon has relied on Rushlift to provide materials handling support from the nearby Bishop Auckland depot. Over the last decade, attention to the total cost of ownership has increasingly influenced equipment procurement decisions.

“Cost-efficiency has proved very important,” says Rushlift business manager, Tony Forrester, “Over the years we’ve seen the range of floor coverings grow and the business get busier and busier. The emphasis has been on keeping up with the changes, whilst maintaining efficiency. It’s not all about numbers however, it’s about service, response times, account management, the complete package.”

Rushlift is a leading provider of innovative customer focussed solutions in materials handling equipment.

That focus allows the provision of impartial advice to enable customers to maximise the effectiveness of their industrial equipment fleets, through either long term hire contracts or servicing and repair arrangements; something that long-term customers have found incredibly important.

“We have worked with Rushlift for almost 20 years,” says David Stubbs, financial director and company secretary. “We operate long hours, so it is crucial that we have equipment which is fit for purpose. The quality must be right and we value having a contract that will sort out any issues promptly. We look for long term productive partnerships with everyone we deal with. We value them greatly. We want to be the best in the business and work with the best.”

The approach has led to David and the team changing the forklift fleet on long-term contract hire to match their long-term objectives, switching brands five years ago, and making use of the latest hybrid technology, following advice from Rushlift on fuel consumption and total cost of ownership.

Says Tony Forrester: “Having provided great service support over the years, and our engineers do a very good job on this site, we felt we could bring additional savings. These trucks, with specialist carpet boom attachments, may have a higher initial cost, but they are cheaper to run. It’s now been five years since the initial switch to this type of truck, we’ve proved they’re more cost-efficient. David trusts us to deliver the right product, and with this latest renewal of the fleet, there was no question of changing back.”

David concurs, “You have to have a trusting relationship,” he adds, “and we have got that.” The trust also extends to the management of the operation too.

CreateCity’s managing director, Jason Maguire, leaves much of the day-to-day issues to warehouse manager, Lee Jenkinson and Jo Lupton, by title the human resources manager, but in reality, an operations manager able to take a holistic view of the warehouse, retail and equipment systems.

“Because we have a highly successful retail operation, we can use special offers or pricing changes to predict the workflow or flatten peaks and troughs,” says Jo. “The aim is to keep the throughput constant and steady. It used to be that the biggest peak would occur towards the end of the year. Now, we see the mid-summer growing season where the spike is.” A puzzled look brings a two word explanation: “Artificial grass.”

“We use simple metrics to know how we are operating as a business,” says Jo. “We can compare performance this hour or week to the one before, this month to the rest of the year, this year to last.”

A large screen shows the productivity figures in terms of cuts, the number of times the cutting machines have been put to use to turn a large roll into a customer order.

With substantial cutting capacity, and with the trucks acting as couriers back and forth from rack to cutting machine, the ‘shopfloor’ is always busy but calm and controlled. In recent years, the role of the internet has also created an added dimension to the business, opening up the market beyond the traditional heartlands in the North East. “The internet has allowed us to refine and restructure the business,” says Jo. It’s also knocked down a number of geographical boundaries.