Moody Logistics – Logistics Champions

We learn how a family business is advocating for the essential role of logistics in Britain today.

Moody Logistics was founded by David Moody in 1947, shortly after he came out of the RAF. His business was delivering coal. Over the years he built up the business to around 50 odd tippers, with most of their work based on coal and grain around the UK. 73 years later, his granddaughter is running the company.

“My father followed him into the business and in the 1990s the coal industry was declining rapidly, especially in the North East, so my father had the foresight to look at a different kind of transport business and that’s when overnight pallet distribution was just getting off the ground,” says Caroline Moody, Managing Director of Moody Logistics. “So he steered the business into that sector. We moved to our current premises in Cramlington, Northumberland, 15 years ago and I took over seven years ago since dad retired. We’re currently with Pall-Ex and have been since their inception.”

Indeed, Moody Logistics is a shareholder member of the Pall-Ex network, thanks to an acquisition deal that took place during a membership buyout last year. Moody Logistics has also expanded to carry out dedicated haulage as well as warehousing, order fulfilment and storage.

While the business has always had to adapt to changing markets, this year might have been the most dramatic yet for the logistics sector with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve various businesses we’re involved with. When the supermarkets were busy, we were super busy in February and March. During the pandemic business dropped in April, May, June and July down to 70% of our typical business but that quickly picked up as soon as things opened and by August we were trading at a 6% increase on the year before,” Moody says. “We had some customers dispatching deliveries into Nightingale Hospitals but we also saw an increase in non-essential freight with a company called Wave Direct Importing inflatable hot tubs and online bathroom supplier Compare the Bathrooms. It felt like the whole UK was having new bathrooms fitted. I did question if it was sensible to be transporting so many non-essential items during a lockdown, but as a fellow director from a respected logistics company in Yorkshire told me, if it keeps people at home and sane then it’s good to get it delivered.”

In the Family

But while the company has certainly undergone some changes, Moody Logistics remains a family company through and through.

“I work with my brother, Richard, who is our logistics director, and my brother-in-law Gavin is a director on the engineering side of the business which services our trucks as well as other private customers too. One of our strongest USPs is as directors we’re directly involved in the business, and customers can speak to us as easily as anyone else in the company,” Moody explains.

As well as paying respect to the company’s family history, Moody Logistics is also investing heavily in the sector’s future.

“We’re passionate about training and development. We’ve put four lads through driver apprenticeships. We’ve got ‘Love of the Lorry’ week coming up and we’ve five drivers under 30,” Moody says. “We’re a family orientated business and we have a reputation for that. We look after our staff and customers.”

This can be seen in the company’s approach to driver training, which is well ahead of the curve when it comes to regulatory requirements.

“Long before the Driver CPC came out, we were one of the first businesses in the North East to get the Investors in People recognition,” Moody recalls. “I saw that as a useful process to help with the transition for drivers from tipper drivers to overnight deliveries. They were going from one load a day to a dozen pallets to all kinds of industries. It was a big transition, so we used the Investors in People processes to get some strong, established personnel and HR features in the business. We stopped that eventually because we felt that it was expensive to be reassessed and while we’ve now ingrained those values in the business, the standard wasn’t as prominent anymore. There were other benchmarks to look to. We have just achieved FORS Bronze Level for the first time and we’re looking towards Silver. Over the last few years, we have set ourselves the target to induct one new apprentice every year into our business to bring new blood into the industry and we’re thrilled they’re all still with the business many years later.”

These apprenticeships, Moody says, are long-term investments for Moody Logistics.

“What frustrates a lot of employers is they do the apprenticeship then someone else reaps the benefits,” she points out. “So we ensure our apprentices get career progression and development within the business. Annually we have a recognition and award scheme, and a bit of a celebration usually just before Christmas. We have Driver of the Year, voted for by drivers, Employee of the Year, put forward by staff and selected by management and directors, as well as attendance and accident-free awards. All to give the drivers some recognition. Unfortunately, this couldn’t happen in the same way last year but the tradition will continue when its possible for us to gather in this way.”

Talking of recognition, Moody herself was recently the recipient of an Amazon Everywoman in Transport and Logistics Freight Leader Award.

“I didn’t even know I was in for that!” Moody admits. “My marketing manager put me in for it and I didn’t know until I got a call saying I’m in the final! I was very surprised, and never expected it in a million years, I was astounded. It’s a nice recognition.”

Moody believes that the award was, in part, recognition for her efforts to advocate for the industry, whether it’s to potential new recruits or senior government figures.

“I’m seen as a person who wherever I can try to champion the industry. So where I get involved with schemes like apprenticeships, pushing them nationally and locally,” she says. “I got a good opportunity to talk to the business secretary at the time, Andrea Leadsom about issues in the industry, explaining that we’re not recognised enough, but I think it’s taken this pandemic for people to appreciate the industry and how essential we are.”

It’s clear she’s passionate about seeing the role of logistics recognised and respected.

“We’re the only industry in the country that can bring the country to a standstill, but we’re not really consulted,” Moody points out. “When I’ve been to schools and universities to talk to MBE students about entrepreneurship I say to them, as students you don’t think about it but everything you touch, everything you eat, will have some form of logistics in it its raw form and its final state.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown that role into sharp relief.

“Lorry drivers are key workers,” Moody says simply. “We’ve been carrying out business as normal, in a safe way as we’ve been doing since March, and the staff recognise how important it is that we keep trading and don’t let our customers and their customers down.”

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