RUBB

The Baz-Roll International (BIL) Group offers a single source manufacturing service covering all aspects of castors, solid and pneumatic wheels and materials/product handling equipment. It is committed to delivering quality, innovation and service throughout Britain and the EU.

The BIL Group comprises two trading divisions, firstly BIL Castors & Wheels, which manufactures and supplies a complete range of castors, solid and pneumatic wheels for trucks and trolleys. Their 10,000 strong product range covers everything from light institutional to heavy industrial castors, and from lightweight and pneumatic wheels through to heavy solid steel and cast iron wheels. The second trading division is BIL Materials Handling which supplies a range of product handling equipment that has satisfied their customers’ needs for over 30 years, best known of which is its AluTruk aluminium sack truck, supplied to Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, and Know How (Dixons) among many others. BIL are the preferred supplier to many companies throughout the UK and enjoy a reputation as a manufacturer of innovative, quality solutions to meet their customers’ health and safety and production requirements, including a range of ergonomic wheels to help reduce stress injuries and enhance productivity.

The latest BIL Castors and Wheels catalogue is now available in print and on line. This is supported by recent IT investment, in the shape of a virtualised SAP system that has helped streamline customer service and inventory management. But BIL’s biggest plus points for potential customers are the ability to come up with solutions to customers’ problems and their huge stockholding backed up with ultra-competitive prices.

Whether it’s a specialist modular aluminium hand-truck stair-climber for Dolby Medical, or replacement castors for a working platform for the last flying Vulcan aircraft, the BIL sales team loves a challenge, as Tim Walker, Products Director of Baz-Roll International, told Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – Tim, as Products Director, what is your role in the company day to day? How long have you been at BIL?

I started at Baz-Roll Products on 14th August 1978, so I guess that makes me part of the furniture! I joined fresh from school and started my career in the warehouse. Over the decades I have progressed through the ranks to become Products Director and 50% shareholder of the business. On a day-to-day basis, I oversee the trading activity on the castor side, liaising with key suppliers and our sales department to ensure we receive the best quality components on time at the right price to satisfy the requirements of our market. I am also on hand to deal with any technical query that arises from production or our sales department.

WLN – When was ‘BIL’ set up, and who by?

Baz-Roll Products, as the company was originally known, was founded in 1972 by Basil Malandrinos and incorporated a year later. Starting in the founder’s garage, the company expanded year on year and moved through a succession of increasingly larger premises before we eventually relocated to Wiltshire in 1991.

WLN – Who owns it now?

An MBO took place in November 2007, comprising Mark Farrell, our Managing Director, and myself as equal shareholders. The business really took off after the sale and purchase transaction, as there were so many things we wanted to do.

WLN – How do the two sides of the BIL business – Castors & Wheels and Materials Handling – fit together? Who heads up the two operations?

The BIL Group consists of two distinct trading divisions. Our Castors & Wheels division generates around 75% of our annual turnover, with the remainder coming from our Materials Handling division. A number of synergies exist between the two divisions in terms of product application, and many customers purchase from both sides of the business. I head up our Castors division and Mark heads up the Materials Handling side day to day. Overall, the group has a strong management team in place, with Peter Edmondson ACA, Financial Director, supporting Mark and myself.

WLN – Where does the BIL Group itself come in?

The parent company, Baz-Roll International Ltd makes all foreign purchases on our supplier list, deals with manufacturing on behalf of both trading divisions and is the legal limited company entity.

WLN – Where is BIL based?

Our European Distribution Centre is based in Calne, Wiltshire, 20 minutes south of the M4. We also have offices in Kaiping City, China and a joint venture in Guangdong Province.

WLN – How have the last twelve months been for you in trading terms?

We’ve set another company record in the last twelve months, beating last year’s previous best by reporting 9% turnover growth on castors and wheels, and 22% growth on the materials handling side. The castor and wheels business’ annual turnover is currently £3.2m and materials handling’s is £1m. We have grown group turnover by 30% since the start of the recession in 2008, in a marketplace considered to be contracting not expanding.

WLN – Which industry sectors are your customers in?

Our customers are in a host of industries: warehousing and logistics, healthcare, shop-fitting, display, transport, the food industry, air transport, pharmaceuticals and many more – just think of the number of applications for wheeling things around!

WLN – What proportion of your customers are in the UK? Do you have any sales offices overseas?

Around 90% of our overall business is domestic. We have a number of appointed dealers within the EU who distribute BIL branded products in assigned territories, and that side of the business is starting to grow.

WLN – What different items of equipment can your castors and wheels used in?

They can be used in a massive variety of applications, everything from wheelie bins, clothing racks and dollies on factory production lines to mobile gantries and shopping trolleys… the list really is endless!

WLN – How does it work – do you supply the OEM’s with wheels and so on for new equipment?

We supply either OEM’s, resellers or end-users, both large and small. Some contracts amount to hundreds of thousands of castors or wheels, whilst other orders are for single units. We maintain a very flexible approach to the needs of all our customers, whatever the sale.

WLN – Do you supply replacement wheels and castors as well? Do you supply them direct?

We supply replacement castors and wheels as a direct replacement or as an alternative to almost any other manufacturer specification. We supply both directly to the end user and indirectly via resellers.

WLN – What are your biggest selling wheels and castors?

We have around 10,000 different product lines on offer and, unlike the vast majority of our competitors, we hold stock of most of these in large quantities. One day we could be building an order for 20,000 75mm institutional castors at short notice for one client, and the next, 200 heavy-duty fabricated castors for a motor manufacturing plant.

WLN – Do you also produce foot-guards and brush-sweepers, and other truck accessories?

These are included in our range of ancillary products alongside all our castors, wheels and product handling equipment. BIL’s brand values are quality, innovation and service. At BIL we pride ourselves on being able to produce innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers. For instance we are currently working on a solution for a particular customer who requires a self-operating one-way directional lock unit, which will click on or off depending upon the amount of force the operator uses.

WLN – Can people order and pay for standard products on line, or does it all go through a phone ordering service? How quickly can you deliver standard products?

Customers can place orders via our sales team or online via our website. Standard products can normally be delivered next business day following receipt of order.

WLN – How much stock of standard products do you hold?

We hold £2m worth of stock at any time, and are one of the UK’s biggest stockholders of castors and wheels. We offer consistency and stability at constant prices.

WLN – Where do you manufacture your standard items?

Most components from our standard lines are manufactured abroad. BIL Group owns over 800 tools to produce our main product lines. We have a manufacturing partner in China and a BIL office in Kaiping City and associated manufacturing companies around the world, but we also hold tooling within the UK. The vast majority of our stock parts are assembled to order in the UK, which gives us the flexibility to offer customers the option to order bespoke products to suit their requirements from any number of permutations.

WLN – You launched your new catalogue in mid June. What’s different this time?

We’ve tried to stick to the layout which proved to be so successful in edition two, but we have added new ranges and uprated particular products following redesign and extensive testing which has resulted in our biggest-ever catalogue, at 156 pages long.

WLN – How can people obtain a printed copy of the catalogue?

Telephone our European Distribution Centre in Calne, Wiltshire on 01249 822222, email us at sales@bilgroup.eu, or contact us via our website at www.bilgroupcw.eu or via their Area Sales Manager.

WLN – What’s the smallest quantity of tailor-made products people can order from you?

We can make single figure quantities in certain cases, but a lot depends upon various critical factors. For example, do we need to make tooling? Do we need to make a minimum quantity, to achieve an acceptable unit cost? Are set-up costs prohibitive, for instance if we were to change the colour of a standard wheel for only a handful in a different shade? Is it a simple case of re-machining a stock item? Many customers are surprised what we can do – we may even have it in stock already, so just ask!

WLN – Do you sell direct to customers or through distributors?

We do both, to customers at ‘direct from the manufacturer’ prices and we also sell BIL products through UK and European-based distributors.

WLN – What are the risks of workers developing musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive stress injuries from moving trucks and trolleys around? What difference can using ergonomic wheels make in reducing these injuries?

Musculoskeletal disorders (‘MSD’) are injuries and disorders that can affect the body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Many MSD’s tend to develop over time, and disorders such as repetitive stress injuries can occur simply through the action of pushing or pulling a heavy trolley over a sustained period. Investment in the correct equipment and ensuring proper work practices are carried out can significantly improve bottom-line figures. Ergonomic wheels have been shown under controlled tests to reduce the amount of user-effort required to either start movement of the trolley or dolly and the rolling resistance when it is moving.

Our tests have shown that the effort required can be measured in reductions of 25% or more. That can make a huge difference to the operator. Recently a customer tested our special ergonomic wheels independently alongside products from a well-known German manufacturer, which our wheels easily outperformed.

On the materials handling side, our modular aluminium AluTruk® sack trucks are constructed from premium quality materials and components such as aero-grade aluminium extrusions, military-grade magnesium alloy die-castings and our special wheels which incorporate semi-precision ball-bearing axles and so on. These really are the ‘Rolls Royce’ of hand trucks, and are hand-built to order by BIL in this country. They can offer increased productivity with user health and safety in mind, but are not as expensive to purchase as you might think! In fact we sold over 6,000 units last year, so many companies both large and small appreciate their added value.

WLN – Do you offer an advisory service for people to check the ergonomic quality of their existing wheels and castors?

BIL offers a consultative sell to our customers. We listen carefully to the problem at hand before recommending options that best fit the application. We even offer free samples in order to allow testing, as we are so confident that we will have a market-leading solution. In fact we have just proved this at a major UK motor manufacturer, where the previously recognised market leader could not match our offering on performance or price.

WLN – How easy is it to replace the existing wheels on trucks and trolleys with more ergonomic ones?

It’s very simple indeed. We have all the necessary components in stock to facilitate this. Please call us to discuss, or to arrange a visit from one of our technical representatives.

WLN – What products and equipment does Baz-Roll’s Materials Handling Division supply?

It covers everything to do with product moving. The biggest seller is the aluminium sack truck that we supply to Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Know How (Dixons) and many more under the AluTruk brand name. In fact AluTruk is the UK’s biggest brand of modular hand trucks, and is now being exported as far away as the Middle East. We also manufacture and supply Skoots, which again is a household name in the ‘lift ‘n shift’ market. Made to our exacting registered design, BIL are niche market leaders in this field and have been since we launched the product back in 1977. Essentially they are hydraulic lifting machines for safe manual transportation of awkward or bulky loads. We also stock a wide choice of machinery skates and jacks and a large range of British-made counterbalance cranes, cylinder trolleys and much more.

WLN – What quality standards do you work to?

All BIL’s operations and procedures are auto-batch-traceable and audited to ISO 9001:2008 standards. We employ an external ISO Consultant to ensure our system procedures are rigorously adhered to and we are audited regularly throughout the year. Likewise group products are extensively field-tested and/or checked by our own purpose-built BSEN standard test facility or, where necessary, evaluated by independent test laboratories within the UK. BIL is fully committed to a policy of customer satisfaction through excellence of products and service with continual improvements in all areas, including the development and marketing of new high-grade materials and products to meet the demands of our customers throughout Europe.

WLN – I gather you sponsor the Laffin-Gas rocket car, which is set to make an attempt at achieving a land speed of 400mph in the UK. Can you tell us more about that?

Carolynn Campbell originally approached us when she had an issue with a dolly for moving the rocket car. BIL provided a special castor to make movement easier in confined spaces. When we heard about what they were trying to achieve, we became sponsors, as it is such an exciting project to be a part of. You will see BIL logos all over the car, the transportation coach, team uniforms and so on. We intend to provide regular project updates in our quarterly company newsletters.

WLN – Finally, where do you see the BIL Group going from here?

We have increased group turnover by 30% in the past five years to over £1m, having reinvested our profits year on year. BIL’s management have a firm focus on future development of the company, and we anticipate the need either to relocate or extend our UK based European Distribution Centre still further in the near future to cope with increased demand. We continually focus our efforts on process improvement and system development to make our organisation as lean and up-to-date as possible. These are exciting times for the BIL Group as we have many new product developments approaching fruition and a clear vision of where we want to be in the next five years and beyond.

Baz-Roll International Group

Tel: 01249 822 222

www.bilgroup.eu

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