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Plastic Pallet People: Andy Starkey

Can you tell us your official job title and what it entails?

I’m Purchasing & Supply Chain Manager at and my role covers a wide range of areas. Firstly, when the sales team receives an enquiry, I ensure we have the products in stock or can source it, which involves liaising with our suppliers. I then source pricing and determine lead times, before arranging transportation of the products in question. This provides me with visibility across the entire supply chain, which I find fascinating. I’m the day-to-day contact with our suppliers, so it’s key that I maintain a great relationship with them.

For my day-to-day activities, I report to Chris Adam, our Operations Director. I work closely with Emma Hall in accounts to ensure orders can be processed. This is a very important relationship, for many reasons. We need to ensure that the correct processes are followed, especially when I purchase unique or bespoke products.

I also work closely with our warehouse team on fabricating products in-house, ensuring lead times are met, and communicating with customers. This can include the removal of lips or runners, as well as adding client branding to our products. For the latter, I collaborate with the customer to ensure we have the correct artwork.

Finally, as the Purchasing & Supply Chain Manager, I also have to problem-solve when issues arise, such as manufacturing delays, or logistical challenges, such as when bad weather impacts the transportation network. Even after 14 years working at, there will always be something new that pops-up to challenge you.

How long have you been with the company, and how has your role evolved?

I’ve been with the company for over 14 years. I started in the sales team in 2009, which seems like a lifetime ago now! I initially focused on selling our then new range of small boxes and containers. Within that role I would spend a lot of my time speaking directly with our customers, but I also worked closely with our suppliers too. I really enjoyed it.

In 2014, the company was enjoying a sustained period of growth, and Chris and Jim (the Directors) offered me the chance to take on my current position. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to push myself – and I have been doing this role for nearly ten years!

What was the transition from sales to supply chain management like for you?

The transition was an eye-opener. I had to learn about the entire process, from placing an order to understanding the manufacturing and logistics side. I had to grasp many different aspects of transportation, including sea freight, road freight and air freight, along with the accounts process. It was a big step, but I was already familiar with many of the suppliers, which helped.

My background in mechanical engineering helped, as the methodical thinking and problem-solving skills I learned in college proved applicable to my current role. Some of the projects we will work on are very complex from start to finish and require a very technical and logical approach. One of my key skills is attention to detail and to double check everything.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variation in my role and the fact I have seen the company grow from just a handful of us to where we are now. It’s fulfilling to be part of this journey and to play a hands-on role across various areas of the business. Each day brings a new challenge and requires you to adapt and evolve very quickly. Over the years, I have worked hard to evolve some of our processes. This ranges from stock holding, transportation, or the way we process certain orders.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Haha, what a question! I would like to think my colleagues would describe me as knowledgeable, helpful and dependable. These traits are crucial in my position. I’m involved in many different processes and often act as a sounding board for others. In a way, it’s a nice compliment that I tend to be the first point of contact with any new or existing enquires. Years and years of hard work, knowledge of products and our way of working has paid off! The same applies to our customers, who will contact me directly for a quick answer or an update on their open orders.

What are some significant challenges or achievements you’ve faced in your role?

One of the most significant challenges we faced was the simultaneous occurrence of Brexit and the pandemic. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we crafted a strategy to ensure we could operate as usual, prioritising deliveries to essential sectors like the NHS, food, pharmaceutical and PPE manufacturers, as well as our regular client base who could operate under the Covid guidelines. This period allowed us to forge stronger bonds with our clients, and to understand them better – their operations, challenges, and needs.

We witnessed an incredible evolution during this time. Many of our clients, like those in the automotive sector who couldn’t produce car parts due to restrictions, pivoted to manufacturing essential items like PPE and respirators.

While grappling with the new rules and procedures of Brexit, we also had to navigate the guidelines set out by the government due to the pandemic. It required us to think outside the box (no pun intended!) and always be a step ahead to ensure reliable deliveries to our clients, all while ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

One of the proudest moments for us as a company was when our range of pallets was chosen and approved to transport the AstraZeneca vaccine globally. While we were already well-recognised in the UK, this achievement solidified our reputation as a dependable global organisation.

I have also been involved in the ongoing success of our recycling scheme, the first of its kind in the logistics industry. Last year I took on the challenge to grow this further, this involved researching and contacting new clients in industries we already serve. Our recycling numbers continue to grow. In fact, we have just sent our 53rd trailer of the year to our recycling centre in Belgium, exceeding the 2022 total of 38 trailers (number correct as of August 2023). Across the last four years, has recycled more than 1252 tonnes of plastic – it is rewarding to be involved in such a pro-environmental initiative.

Do you have a favourite product that you’ve worked with?

I like a standard pool pallet – such as the APB 1210 Pool Open 5R Black – due to its durability and longevity. The feedback from customers is always great, and it’s a product we always have in stock and ready for next day delivery. In fact, some clients are still using the same pallets delivered to them before I even joined the company 14 years ago – what an investment!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work, and can you tell us about your family?

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family. I have two children – my son is 11 and my daughter is 7. We like to play hard on the weekends, and I value the quality time we spend together. Whether that is going out for nice walks, cycling or watching films, we always have a lot of fun.

Amazing. Thanks for your time, Andy!