By Martin Walker
A family-run distribution company is going the extra length after seeing turnover jump by 20 per cent to £10.5m this year.
Stiller Warehousing and Distribution, based on Aycliffe Business Park, Newton Aycliffe, has in the last six months invested in a fleet of state-of-the-art vehicles, between them worth more than £1m, to cope with healthy recent growth.
They include four extra-long trailers, which are 15.65 metres in length – two metres longer than the previous maximum length of trailer allowed on the road.
This is part of the Department for Transport’s trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) for longer articulated goods vehicles, with an initial allocation of just 1,800 vehicles available nationally.
The trial is expected to save over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 nationally over 10 years, and the overall benefits are estimated at £33m in that time.
Stiller has also invested in new 18-tonne rigid vehicles, conventional trailers, urban artics and six brand new Mercedes tractor units.
The company has taken on 15 new members of staff this year, increasing its workforce to 115.
Turnover is expected to top £10.5m at the end of the current financial year, ending December, up £2m on 2012.
More than £3m has been invested in its 14-acre Aycliffe site in the last year, and further cash has been ring-fenced to develop additional warehousing.
General manager Matthew Stiller (pictured) is taking the company into a new era. He is the third generation of the Stiller family running the business, taking the reins from dad Paul. The company was started by Paul’s German father Gunter, who sold a herd of pigs to start up Stiller Transport in 1954.
“We’ve changed our company profile to the point where we’re in a much healthier position,” said Matthew, 28.
“It’s been a consolidation exercise over a number of years, but now we’re experiencing really healthy growth – turnover has increased significantly, we’re winning more contracts and so we’re recruiting more staff accordingly.”
Matthew says the recent investment in LSTs was a crucial one, as more palletised goods can be hauled in one trailer.
“They enable us to haul more – an extra eight pallets per trailer – so they make our trailers even more cost-effective.
“The longer semi-trailers must operate within the UK’s existing domestic weight limit, which is 44 tonnes for vehicles of six axles, and it’s estimated that every four of these LSTs on the road will save one vehicle, reducing the CO2 omissions overall.
“So for us it’s a sound investment. The vehicles are eco-friendly and state-of-the-art, and our drivers love them – everyone’s a winner.”
Stiller’s premises at the heart of Aycliffe Business Park includes a 15,000-pallet store within about 160,000 square feet, which stores for 15 customers from varying industries, including the likes of Gestamp Tallent and 3M.
Other companies – such as Go-Geo Thermal and Now Plastics – are tenants at Stiller’s site and use it as its own “full-service” warehousing and distribution centre.
More recently, Stiller won a contract with worldwide firm Bidvest to distribute for a range of high-street food outlets across the region.
Matthew adds: “We’ve invested in the purchase of the site and since then we have continued to invest to some considerable degree.
“We’ve improved the facilities here. We’ve installed energy-efficient lighting and more efficient racking systems for storage. We’ve invested in mechanical handling and in training people and we plan to refurbish more buildings for rent.”
Stiller is the largest shareholder in national award-winning firm Palletline, which has 70 members across Britain and operates an impressive UK-wide distribution service.