WPS Supplies Ltd was set up in 2011, initially renting the warehouses and yard.
The 1st day of opening we had little to no stock, we had a healthy supply of kindling, 20 tons of sand and that was about it!
Although we had no stock, very limited money and no money borrowed, we were determined to make this a success.
The first hurdle we came across was due to being a new business suppliers would only deal with you on a pro forma basis so we had to be careful with what we spent our money on!!
Our customer base was very slow and obviously we didn’t always have what people wanted but we knew this was going to be a lengthy process. The yard was also less than ideal for what we were trying to do.
Initially we bagged sand into dumpy bags, purchased a forklift so we could stack them in our yard. We then sold our first bag to a customer from Mallerstang and then pondered on how we were going to deliver it! This was done the following day by tractor and trailer (less than ideal, having to drop off the trailer to pick the sand up with the loader then pick up the trailer again).
Trade grew stronger and customers sitting on the fence jumped off and gave us a try.
This lead to Jake sourcing our 1st wagon from Cannock, which after a viewing the following week, Jake persuaded his mum Christine to give him a lift to collect it!
Now we had a means to deliver and also to collect products from suppliers. The wagon was a tipper with a Hiab crane and was also short so it meant we could get into places our competitors couldn’t which helped us gain customers.
We then started to be inundated with reps calling into the yard, some not of much use and some very helpful. We picked our way threw them and are happy to say the chosen ones we still use today.
At times it’s felt like a constant uphill struggle and also very frustrating with the constant battle of finding customers, cash flow, constantly changing the yard to suit our needs and never getting a day off!
Then in 2012 we were flooded out, the water as high as 18” in places. This as you can appreciate devastated our stock and left all of us at WPS, well and truly heartbroken.
This took a few months to sort, but we got stuck in and were back up and running again.
A few years passed, our customer base grew, stock grew and with literally blood sweat and tears things moved forward and improved.
Our wagon eventually got to the point where the crane was no longer deemed as safe and this forced us to then place an order for our 1st new wagon which was to be a purpose built wagon to meet all our delivery requirements.
This was a big step but it meant that by having a new vehicle, repair bills were down and we had that peace of mind that the crane was good for years to come and that the wagon was not only more efficient but had a better payload .
In getting the new wagon, this meant we could also push the yard further in other areas.
We have always sold coal as part of our product range at WPS Supplies Ltd alongside our logs, kindling and gas, but in July 2015 we decided to apply to the ‘Approved Coal Merchants Federation’ to become an Approved Coal Merchant.
This would mean we would be able to get coal supplied to our site in bulk and begin bagging coal at our own yard to supply to the local area. It would also give Kirkby Stephen its own coal yard back after 15 years without.
A meeting was set up with the federation who then came to our yard at Kirkby Stephen to assess the suitability of the yard as well as check our knowledge and understanding of the supply and sale of coal, and after various interviews and courses to meet the standards required we were delighted to be told we had been approved. This was a big moment for WPS Supplies Ltd and the start of a busy winter.
Once approved, we needed to invest in our own bagging machine. This would make the bagging process quick and efficient and we would be able to weigh and seal the bags to meet the guidelines set out by the Coal Merchants Federation.
This machine was custom built to suit our requirements so we had to wait a few weeks until it was built, and 6 weeks later we made the 350 mile trip down to Newhaven, East Sussex to collect our bagging machine.
Once back at the yard we got straight onto setting the bagging machine up so we could start the learning process of using the machine.
Whilst the bagging machine was on order, we took this time to look into finding a supplier of plastic bags for us to pack our pre-pack coal into.
We found a supplier who designed a template with all the required information on which could then be printed onto each of the bags and we ordered our first batch.
The new bagging machine allowed us to fill 25kg pre-packed bags which could then be sealed on the sealing machine attached to the bagging machine and would allow us to offer pre-packed plastic bags to our customers, which they could take away in the boot of their car.
It also allowed us to fill 50kg traditional sacks which meant that we could also offer a delivery service where we could tip coal straight into a bunker for the convenience of the customer.
These 50kg would also allow us to fill 500kg bulk bags for those customers who required a larger quantity to hand due to the rural area we live in.
This meant there was a lot of flexibility with what we could offer our customers at there was a bag suitable for everyone’s needs.
We got our first load of coal in July 2015 and since then we have been flat out delivering to the local area, serving some local suppliers and also sending out pallets all over the country.
We hope you can see by the pictures in our gallery how our journey has been and we hope to see you all soon.