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Bernard Jenkin MP visits Evo Supplies

Bernard Jenkin MP visits Evo Supplies furniture skate moving dolly Juliet Dunn

We were pleased to welcome our local MP, Bernard Jenkin MP, to the Evo Supplies workshops last week.

Some of the local and national issues discussed included:

As chair of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, Bernard is closely involved in conducting an inquiry into the collapse of Carillion.

Bernard’s office contacted Evo following our appearance in this year’s Parliamentary Review.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) examines constitutional issues and the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service. It also scrutinises the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

It is a committee of Members of Parliament, appointed by the House of Commons and drawn from the three largest political parties. It works principally by undertaking inquiries. It chooses its own subjects of inquiry and seeks evidence from a wide range of groups and individuals with relevant interests and experience. The committee produces reports setting out its findings and making recommendations to the government.

Bernard Jenkin

Bernard Jenkin has been the MP for Harwich and North Essex since the 2010 general election. He was first elected to represent Colchester North in the 1992 general election. He went on to represent North Essex before the current Harwich and North Essex constituency was created.

The Small Business Commissioner – tackling late payments

The office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) was launched in December 2017. Its aim is to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses. The Small Business Commissioner supports businesses in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and bring about culture change.

The Parliamentary Review

The Parliamentary Review is a prestigious annual publication, combining political commentary from leading journalists, with sector specific insight from Secretaries of State, Ministers and MPs. It offers an indispensable guide to industry best practice, which demonstrates how sector leaders have responded to challenges in the political and economic environment. The Review has several editions, each focusing on an individual policy area with the strategic aim of raising standards by highlighting best practice.

It is sent to over 500,000 leading business executives, policy makers and other relevant individuals. The Review’s release is marked by an annual gala in the Palace of Westminster.

In 2017, Evo Supplies were proud to be selected as a “Best Practice Representative” in the Manufacturing edition of The Parliamentary Review. You can read our Parliamentary Review story here and here.

 

 

 

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“Best Practice Representatives”

Parliamentary Review Best Practice Representative Evo Supplies

Following Evo’s inclusion in this year’s Parliamentary Review (manufacturing edition), we were delighted to receive our ‘Best Practice Representative’ badge last week from the Chairman of the Review, Sir Eric Pickles.

Read Evo’s Parliamentary Review story here.

Directors Greg and Juliet representing Evo Supplies at the Parliamentary Review Annual Gala
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Evo’s story – as featured in The Parliamentary Review 2016/17

Parliamentary Review

Here’s the full text of our feature as ‘best practice representatives’ in this year’s Parliamentary Review (manufacturing edition).

 

Evo Supplies Ltd is one of the UKs leading manufacturers of furniture skates (also known as dollies). The company was founded in 2013, when Juliet and Greg Dunn purchased an existing removal supplies business on Mersea Island in Essex. Managing Director Juliet Dunn explains Evos mission, culture and plans for the future.

In November 2013 Greg and I – an animal feed trader and a legal editor respectively – found ourselves the slightly nervous owners of a small furniture skate manufacturing business. We both had previous experience in running businesses, but neither of us had a manufacturing background. Over the past four years, we’ve had to acquire some entirely new skillsets, and the learning curve has been close to vertical at times.

Skates or dollies

We branded ourselves ‘The Skate People’ and started developing new products to fill gaps in the market, working with our customers to produce skates to the specifications they needed. We’re principally a business-to-business seller, but there’s also a market in skates for domestic and garden use.

Over the past 18 months we’ve taken on new people and now have a very strong team. It’s a constant learning process for all of us, but team spirit prevails. Our commitment to timely delivery and excellent customer service does occasionally mean that my office colleagues and I can be found on the factory floor, pitching in to finish and pack skates ready for loading out. This hands-on approach has helped me to gain real insight into exactly what I’m asking my production guys to do, and how our productivity expectations and targets can be improved.

High-spec and hand finished

In a market dominated by cheap imported dollies, we’ve differentiated Evo by focusing on three core concepts:

  1. Making high-spec, hand-finished products that satisfy our customers’ own high quality demands: hard-wearing castors; sustainable timber; and the ethos of ‘buying British’. Our emphasis on premium quality has recently attracted two workplace equipment suppliers, who feature Evo-made products in their online catalogues.
  2. Promoting the attractive branding advantages for corporate customers of Evo ‘personalised’ skates. Some of the big names in commercial relocation and domestic removals have large fleets of Evo skates, bearing their company logo, to present a professional image on site and reinforce their brand.
  3. Making bespoke-size skates. We’ve made giant skates for shifting PA equipment, skates for trundling sacks of logs and skates for freezers. Requests can be bizarre, but we’ll oblige whenever possible; and from an R&D perspective, some of these one-off jobs have resulted in permanent additions to our range, including the aluminium Filing Cabinet Skate and the 1-tonne capacity ‘Mighty Mover’.

Responding to challenges

Evo is part of the supply chain for domestic removals and commercial relocation companies, so the nervousness resulting from, first, the Brexit vote and now the outcome of the June General Election, inevitably impacts on us. Protracted political and financial nervousness will benefit neither the manufacturing sector in which we operate, nor the service industries we supply, and we believe it’s crucial that the next Government genuinely supports SMEs.

Evo has recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the EEF – the Manufacturers’ Organisation.  I strongly commend both organisations, not only for their loud and persistent lobbying of Government on issues directly affecting SMEs, but also for the wealth of information, advice, services and practical help they offer business owners. I wish we’d joined years ago: membership brings both reassurance and inspiration.

The free HR, legal and crisis management services available to FSB members are amazing value. And a recent visit from an EEF manufacturing consultant gave the whole team here an unrivalled opportunity to seek advice and guidance on productivity and efficiency in our operation – again, a service entirely free to members.

This year we have invested heavily in the Xero cloud accounting system, which has revolutionised life in the Evo office.  It also offers a vast array of management accounting and marketing tools, which we’re only just starting to explore, but the possibilities are exciting.

Financing the business for growth is a challenge. We’ve been seeking funding to allow us to take Evo to the next level and to realise our development aspirations, but the process is so frustrating it’s almost enough to dampen the entrepreneurial spirit. But Greg and I are not the kind of people to be easily deterred. Through thinkbusinessfinance.com we recently secured a loan from IWOCA,(?) which was a life-saver in delivering working capital precisely when we needed it. The loan funded the design and building of our new website and a trip to China to explore the economic viability of sourcing two of our raw materials – rubber and castors – direct from the manufacturers.

 

It was encouraging to see an awareness in both Conservative and Labour manifestos of the crushing effects on small business of late payment. Both parties pledged that companies tendering for government contracts must pay their own suppliers on time. As the FSB asserts: ‘When our small businesses succeed, so does the UK economy.’

So what are Evos plans for the future?

  • extending our product range and broadening our customer base;
  • building even stronger relationships with our existing customers;
  • achieving a better balance between the ideals of ‘just in time’ ordering and lean manufacturing, while also holding sufficient stock to service urgent orders, meet the delivery promises of our wholesalers, and offer the fast response demanded of outlets like eBay;
  • following our EEF consultant’s recommendations to optimise production methods and increase productivity;
  • significantly reducing costs by buying raw materials (those that are already Chinese-made) direct from China ;
  • making our excellent customer service super-excellent!

 

Find out more about the Parliamentary Review here …

Read about Evo’s evening in Westminster here …

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Evo goes to Westminster: Juliet and Greg attend the Parliamentary Review gala evening

Parliamentary Review Gala Evening 2017 Evo Supplies Greg Dunn Juliet Dunn

Juliet and Greg were in the Members’ Dining Room at the Palace of Westminster on Monday night, representing Evo Supplies at the annual Gala Evening to celebrate publication of this year’s Parliamentary Review.

Greg and Juliet at the Parliamentary Review Gala Evening, Monday 18th September

Evo was selected earlier this year to be featured in the Manufacturing edition of the 2017 Review. More than half a million copies of the printed editions of the Parliamentary Review have been distributed to MPs, policy-makers, industry leaders and decision-makers across the country. The Review aims to provide an wider overview of best practice in a range of different sectors, and to give the leaders of the featured businesses and organisations a voice.

Each edition of the Review includes Forewords by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and articles by Andrew Neil and other leading political and industrial journalists, reviewing the events and achievements of the previous parliamentary year.

Hosted by the Review’s new Chairman, Sir Eric Pickles, the event was introduced by Jeremy Vine. Other speakers included Lord Blunkett and British and Irish Lions Captain, Sam Warburton.

Juliet with British and Irish Lions captain, Sam Warburton

Everyone at Evo is delighted to have been invited to participate in the Parliamentary Review, and take up this unique opportunity to highlight to a huge audience the challenges and opportunities facing our particular sector in the current political and economic climate.

Evo’s feature in the Review is now available online (see pp 54-56)

 

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Evo Supplies featured in this year’s Parliamentary Review

Parliamentary Review

On 18th September 2017, Evo’s co-owners and directors, Juliet and Greg Dunn, will be attending a Gala Evening at the Palace of Westminster, to mark the publication of this year’s Parliamentary Review – a prestigious annual document showcasing excellence and best practice across a range of sectors.

We’re so proud that Evo has achieved this national recognition, both as a small Mersea Island business and as a British manufacturer. All credit to our hard-working team, our expanding range of super-strong, reliable products, and our commitment to excellent customer service. We’re a small business but we have big aspirations, and are planning some exciting new developments later this year.

Parliamentary Review Evo pages

The Parliamentary Review aims to demonstrate how organisations/individuals have become outstanding leaders in their field and how they have responded to challenges within their industry, sharing best practice as a template for reform.

Alongside Evo’s three-page feature, and those of the other chosen manufacturers, the 2017 Review contains articles by leading political figures, an introduction from the BBC’s Andrew Neil and summaries of the year in British industry and Westminster by leading journalists. You can read the whole article here.