Investing in electric vehicles has helped warehousing firm St John’s Hall Storage thrive and carry out its strategic plan two years ahead of time, meeting increased customer demand, decarbonising its operations and creating a better work environment for everyone.
The family-run business has more than 30 years’ experience in commercial and domestic warehousing, distribution and storage in Norfolk and Suffolk, and over the years reducing its carbon footprint has become increasingly important. Therefore, transitioning its operations to the next level in achieving Net Zero was a ‘no brainer’ for Director Tim Basey-Fisher, who applied for the Business Transition to Net Zero grant through New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
St John’s Hall Storage, which is based in Suffolk, received over £43,000 to help purchase six electric forklifts and an automated pallet wrapper machine. Having varied clients ranging from blue chip companies and importers to small enterprises and individuals means it has seen continued growth.
Jenny Green, HR and Operations Manager, explained: “The business has great customer retention and enough demand, so we decided to expand. Next, we needed more vehicles to meet the demand. We’re now carbon neutral because the forklifts are charged using solar panels which also power our electricity and lighting.”
She can already see the operational improvements the new equipment has had on the company. “We can wrap pallets quicker, have a higher turnover (of work) and are able to meet different customer demands. With more vehicles, we can complete work within a day whereas before we had to do overtime because we didn’t have enough vehicles. If a lorry came in with 50 pallets, it had to wait. Now, we can unload it swiftly.”
The benefits are across the board with a reduced carbon footprint, happier vehicle operatives and efficient forklifts. “The team loves the new forklifts as they are safer and easier to use,” says Jenny. “They are more responsive, easy to charge and a lot cleaner. The warehouses are really clean now as there is no dust.” Customers have also commented on clean the warehouses are.
Speaking about the grant application process, Jenny comments: “It was fab, very helpful and supportive. I can’t complement them enough and would hundred percent recommend it. It has enabled us to carry out our strategic plan two years ahead of time.
“We would not have been able to invest in the business without the grant. The whole scheme was transparent, and we have had support every step of the way; it’s an absolute benefit to any business. It has not only helped our business to survive but thrive.
“We have now more vehicles so more people can work and get things done on time. And we have a carbon reduction plan. So, we know structurally what we are doing and have clear guidance. We will continue to assess what we can do on our Net Zero journey.”
Business Transition to Net Zero Grant is aimed at businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk with ambitions to reduce their carbon footprint and increase productivity.
Grants between £25k and £100k are available, with a maximum intervention rate of 20% of the cost of the development. To be awarded the minimum of £25k, you must show total project costs of at least £125k. To apply, contact New Anglia Growth Hub here.