By Martin Walker
Newton Aycliffe family business Stiller Warehousing and Distribution is continuing its impressive growth by investing more than £1m in a new state-of-the-art storage facility.
The 40,000 square feet warehouse will increase by nearly 50% the firm’s warehousing capacity at its premises in the heart of Aycliffe Business Park.
Stiller, which employs 140 people, has ploughed £1.1m into the new unit, which will include a new 21st Century racking system and VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) handling equipment.
The multi-user warehousing facility, which has been constructed by local steel firm Finley Structures, will increase Stiller’s storage footprint to 200,000 sq ft, and is expected to be completed by August.
It comes just four months after Stiller announced a new £15m three-year deal with food packaging firm Coveris Rigid, which is expected to increase annual turnover from £10m to between £12.5m and £13m this year.
Commercial manager Matthew Stiller, pictured in front of the new warehouse, said: “We were struggling to accommodate our current workload and order book within the space that existed between our own site and another property we currently lease at Central Park on Aycliffe Business Park.
“This is a long-term investment for the company and part of our 10-year business plan to sustain employment and create new jobs in the future.
“We do have a full pipeline of work at the moment but this expansion will enable us to be more efficient and to take on more business.
“The distribution side of the business has grown significantly over the last 18 months, and this is another indication of how well the business is doing.
“It’s as a direct result of an increase in sales which in turn is a result of the great job our sales customer services and operations teams are doing.”
Work began on the new warehouse in February, with initial work carried out by Richardson’s Builders of Darlington.
Finley Structures fabricated and erected 140 tonnes of steel as well as erecting the cladding, supplied by Tata Steel.
The building has been designed by ADG Architects of Darlington and BDN Engineers of Durham.
Mr Stiller added: “We’re very proud of the fact we have used local companies to build this new development, which is supporting local jobs.
“The new building will include new racking and VNA machining, and will be much more space-efficient, providing us with storage for more than 5,000 pallets.
“It is particularly exciting to have this opportunity to develop a modern and efficient warehouse on our site and we look forward to attracting additional warehousing business as a result.”
Stiller invested in a fleet of 12 new vehicles in 2014, including two 12-tonne vehicles, two urban trailers and four long double-deck trailers, and brought in five new Iveco trucks earlier this year to accommodate its deal with Coveris Rigid.
The new £1.1m facility takes Stiller’s overall investment in the last two years to £5.6m, during a time when several neighbouring businesses are also expanding.
Mr Stiller said: “Aycliffe Business Park is on the up, there’s no question about it, and we’re feeling the benefit of the upturn in our industry.
“But we’re not the only companies in our business community which is expanding. We have the likes of DPE, Gestamp Tallent, 3M, Finley Structures and Ebac all expanding and there’s definitely a feel-good factor.
“We have a 10-year plan to invest in the business, both in terms of our equipment, our people, our property and new land.
“We’re very much a three-faceted business, but each side of the company complement one another.
“We’ve invested heavily in land and property in the last two years and some of that has been turned into warehousing, where we store items for our clients. The third arm to the business is clearly the distribution, so it’s easy to see how all three sides work hand-in-hand.
“It’s very much a three-pronged approach, but each prong is equally important to our overall strategy and 10-year business plan to continue with the business model.
“There are other development plans already on our radar which we’ll be looking to take forward soon, so we’re very pleased with our performance at the moment.
“But you can never afford to take your eye off the ball and we continue to run a tight ship which will ensure the long-term stability of jobs here in Newton Aycliffe.”