APEX Linvar is one of the largest manufacturers of storage and handling systems used in logistics and supply chain management in the UK. A UK company manufacturing in Milton Keynes, they have over 75 years of design, manufacturing and installation experience. APEX Linvar provide bespoke solutions to improve operational efficiency, supported by project management for total peace of mind, for everyone from blue chip to sole ownership customers.
From their experienced structural engineers to their creative design team, APEX Linvar is totally committed to supplying the very best bespoke storage solutions, on time and on budget. Continued investment in the company’s manufacturing plant in Milton Keynes means that it is equipped with the very latest design facilities, state of the art steel forming equipment, specialised computer controlled steel rolling mills and one of the largest epoxy polyester powder coating paint lines in Europe.
They also hold stock and despatch products from their Storage Direct Catalogue, which offers thousands of complementary products. Currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Catalogue is now available on line in a mobile friendly version.
Anthony Finlayson-Green, CEO of APEX Linvar, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all Anthony, as CEO, what is your role in the company day to day? Are you directly involved in developing solutions for customers?
I’ve been Chief Executive at APEX Linvar for almost 13 months, and in that time have led the business in a way that plays on the strengths of existing team members and also brings in new talent who can add a different dimension in an industry that is changing all the time.
It’s my role to direct the business and add value to customers and to shareholders alike. Therefore, while I lead on strategy, I am not directly involved in designing solutions. I’m the one who has overall responsibility for ensuring that APEX Linvar has the best possible product and solutions mix for customers.
WLN – How do you sum up the APEX Linvar proposition? What sets you apart from other storage solutions providers? Why buy storage and handling products from you?
We are much more than merely the UK’s leading manufacturer and installer of quality racking. We’re also much more than being the only manufacturer in the world who comply with the new SEMA design codes. We provide total solutions. That means we can deliver everything from high-end complex racking to Linbin plastic storage containers.
We believe we add value because we have the expertise to design bespoke solutions, and can draw on the design skills and project management abilities of our people. Customers demand knowledge and business-focused solutions so it’s essential to have experts who have the right pedigree – and that’s what we have at APEX Linvar.
WLN – Can you run through the different products and services that APEX Linvar provides?
The products and services provided by APEX Linvar are many and varied but all have the same end-result in mind – they maximise space for our customers, which in turn leads to improvements in day-to-day operational efficiency and saves time and money.
Racking and shelving is the main product, and it can be designed to fit almost any configuration, including wide aisle and very narrow aisle. As well as the complementary storage products, such as our small parts containers, we have also introduced the mobile hand picking solution SpeedCell into the mix. It’s been a great addition to our portfolio and is changing how people think about storage. We are also working on new initiatives that will add further value to our customers, such as rack protection systems.
In addition to the products, we have seen a rise in the number of people needing our consultancy expertise to carry out racking inspections on any type of racking, whether we have manufactured it or not. Not only does this boost health and safety, we can also identify where improvements can be made to configurations, all of which add value for customers.
WLN – Do you also sell your standard products through distributors?
Yes. We believe very strongly that our distributor network is an essential part of our business. We absolutely value their professionalism and skill, and their in-depth knowledge of the industry and their markets. We choose our partners very carefully as they have to demonstrate that they have the same values and ethos of APEX Linvar. A dedicated and growing in-house team works very closely with our distributor network, who we see as part of the family.
WLN – Who are the typical customers for your standard products?
There isn’t a typical customer as our client base is wide-ranging. Clients come from all sectors, and range from large multi-national retailers to small independent companies. Therefore, the key markets for APEX Linvar include retail, 3PL, food and drink, pharmaceuticals, automotive, logistics and archiving. So, for example, High Street and online retailer River Island is a client, as is ReStore, the archiving specialists. Other clients include TNT, Amazon, Argos, Goodyear, Laddaw, P&O Ferries, Matalan, Marks & Spencer, River Island, Sainsbury’s, Stobart Group and Tesco.
If anyone has a storage issue, then we are the ones who can investigate it, design a solution and deliver.
WLN – Can you tell us about your Storage Direct Catalogue? Is it printed or online, or both? What product categories does it cover?
The Storage Direct catalogue is now in its 20th year, so you can see that it remains an integral part of our business. That’s no surprise really, when you think that the catalogue and the website offer access to thousands of complementary storage products. We’re about to launch a new mobile site too, which will improve access and efficiency yet further.
I think also that as we are constantly updating and introducing new products that have been sourced to add value to our customers, the catalogue will continue to remain as popular as it was 20 years ago.
WLN – Can people buy your standard products online, as well as on the phone?
The more complex racking solutions need to be specified correctly as regulations have to be met, so it’s not possible to buy this online. However, through the Storage Direct catalogue people can purchase shelving, even in kit form for convenience, along with core complementary products such as lockers and small parts storage containers. If people require basic racking, for use in their garages or home workshops as an example, they can certainly purchase this online or on the phone.
WLN – Do you offer a storage products advice service?
Our expertise and experience means that part of our service to customers is ensuring that we design the most cost effective solution that gives them best return on investment and optimises space. For example, every millimetre counts for archiving companies, so solutions are bespoke. Our 75 years as a company, coupled with the fact that our people have unrivalled knowledge, means that we can advise on any type of storage issue and design a solution that meets the requirements.
WLN – Who are the target customers for your bespoke solutions?
As mentioned, every customer is bespoke, because their requirements are often individual to them. We are proud to offer that individual service to all our customers, regardless of size. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach with us.
WLN – Can you tell us about some of the bespoke solutions you have provided for customers? Do you produce customer case studies of your bespoke solutions?
River Island is a great example of working with the customer to design, manufacture and install a bespoke solution that matched their unique requirements. It was however more than identifying the best storage solution possible for different parts of the warehouse, it was understanding how their business might change and designing to allow for future enhancements. More details of this case study are opposite.
WLN – Have you won any awards?
We are extremely proud to say that yes, we have. We ended 2012 on a real high at the Manufacturer of the Year Awards, where the team won the Manufacturing in Action category and we were Highly Commended in the People and Skills category. While the awards were great achievements and reflect the hard work of all our teams, we know that we will continue to improve.
WLN – How has business been for you recently?
I’m delighted to say it’s been a very positive past 12 months for us. We’ve risen to the challenges of the economic climate by focusing on our key strength of being a storage solutions provider rather than just a racking company, and we are in a buoyant mood.
WLN – Do you supply your standard products or bespoke solutions outside the UK?
Yes, we do. In fact, we recently developed a solution for a carpet and flooring retailer in the Falkland Islands. Actually, our export activities are on the increase and we see certain parts of Northern, Eastern and Western Europe as potential growth markets.
WLN – Turning now to IMHX, what will you be presenting on your stand? Will you be at the show yourself?
In a nutshell, we’ll be presenting the complete range. There will be areas dedicated to specific sector solutions. From pallet racking with both pallet live and carton live storage, drive-in and shuttle storage to garment hanging and a mezzanine floor, the solutions on show are wide ranging. An extensive range of Meta shelving, the innovative mobile storage solution SpeedCell and the one-stop-shop Storage Direct catalogue means there really will be something for everyone at IMHX.
I will be there all week as it is a very important show for us and it is vital for me to meet our customers, as I am very proud of what we have to offer and have already delivered.
WLN – How important are shows like IMHX to your company and its strategy?
Shows like IMHX are very important to us, as they not only give us a chance to meet customers and distributors, we can also demonstrate, in one location, storage possibilities across the board. Clients and potential clients are more than welcome to visit our manufacturing facility at our headquarters in Milton Keynes, but IMHX is the place where a wide range of our solutions will be on display. It’s a great opportunity for our people to demonstrate their expertise and knowledge.
WLN – The big question: why should a busy professional from the logistics industry take a day out of the office to visit your stand?
A busy professional will benefit from visiting our stand because they can keep up to date with new and innovative industry developments, such as SpeedCell mobile storage. They can make contacts for future projects and keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry. If they have a particular storage problem, our experts can demonstrate there and then some options they could consider to ensure they optimise their storage and improve efficiency.
WLN – Looking at the wider picture, what do you see as the biggest pressures on users of storage products? How do you help end users address these concerns?
There are huge pressures on the users of storage products. Costs and space utilisation are at the forefront of thinking. A lack of new-build warehouses means that existing sites have to think very carefully about space optimisation and that can mean thinking differently. The growth in online retailing is also putting pressure on retailers and their logistics and supply chain. Efficiency is key more so now than ever before as consumers demand products quickly and companies have to make sure they can deliver.
APEX Linvar has a very unique view on this. We design bespoke solutions that meet requirements but we also bear in mind that situations change, for example if a customer expands or moves towards particular markets. Space optimisation remains the key driver, as it will increase efficiency and overall return on investment.
WLN – Where do you see the UK storage market, and APEX Linvar as a company going from here?
The market is highly competitive, and to stay at the top companies must think strategically with the customer at the heart. APEX Linvar has 75 years of heritage and pedigree, and while we have built a superb reputation, we will continue to develop our teams and products to best serve our customers and grow our market share.
WLN – Finally, I understand that Apex Linvar is 75 years old! How did you celebrate?
Indeed, we were established in 1937, so we celebrated our 75 year anniversary last year with our employees. I’m very proud of the team we have at APEX Linvar. Their expertise and knowledge, and a desire to be part of an award-winning company with ambition, is what will make the company stand out from the crowd and continue to deliver for our customers.
Tel: 01908 561 222