Adding value to the supply chain

For the past 13 years, Aquarian Cladding Systems has helped clients achieve simple, fast, and safe facades with their brick and terracotta cladding systems. Here, the award-winning company’s Managing Director Paul Richards explains why the company’s value in the supply chain will prove even more important in the future.

The building products industry has had to adapt to many difficult challenges over the years and none more so than the deep recession, building safety issues and uncertainty of Brexit during more recent years.

Like every industry, however, the COVID-19 pandemic could turn out to be the toughest yet, which for most of us, has meant having to again assess our business model. In particular, we have been looking at what old habits we can let go of and which new ones we can build on, whether it’s our working environment, logistics, or customer and supplier communication, all with the purpose of providing a better service at no extra cost, i.e. adding value to our supply chain.

Specialists are the ‘new normal’

Successful companies are agile and can adapt in unpredictable times. The unprecedented uncertainty, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, will quickly identify those companies. The impact on our physical, financial, emotional, and mental health affects our generation like no other. But it is not all bad, as leaders have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make fundamental changes to the way we do business for the better. We are finally able to do, and think about, the bigger things we have neither had the time or bravery to act upon, or challenge.

One change we have noticed is in buying habits. Buying local, in particular from specialists, seems to have become the ‘new normal’. Why queue at the supermarket when you can order your meat, or fruit & veg, to be delivered to your door by your local specialist? People are buying what they need from their local ‘super market’ because they trust them, their produce, and their service.

So if people are prepared to pay a bit more in the knowledge they can trust the experience of the smaller, independent supplier, the challenge for the supplier is to provide the things the customer needs (not wants!) without charging a premium so that they never return to the supermarket.

At Aquarian, this has always been our target. What smart things can we do for our supply chain that won’t cost them extra? Our independent and innovative culture, our proven technical and commercial skills, and our many years of industry knowledge, help us to seek to understand the needs of our customers and suppliers to provide them with the solution they need.

Part of the chain

While a chain does not have to be excessively long to be strong, it needs to provide maximum strength and efficiency. Aquarian Cladding Systems is one of the links and without it, the chain would not be as strong as it should be, or it might even be broken.

Designers and constructors have a lot to organise. They may not always be able to provide the information as accurately and promptly as the supplier needs, to produce what is actually wanted. Suppliers produce for many customers and are typically geared up to supply in bulk, so are not particularly agile. For us, it is made even more challenging when materials are being produced and delivered across Europe!

Our job is therefore to translate. Not just across the language barrier between different countries but also to translate the information provided by one link of the chain into what is needed by the other link to function effectively.

We don’t just distribute brick and terracotta cladding systems. We seek to understand the design requirements, the construction requirements and the manufacturer requirements and offer the best solution so that the manufacturer can produce it, the architect can design it, the contractor can build it, and the insurers can warrant it. We provide the glue that binds them all together in our specialist field of brick and terracotta cladding. Importantly, we don’t profess to be experts in anything else.

We simply ‘plug and play’ so that our customers or suppliers plug us in when they need us. We’ll get on with the job in hand and then unplug us when our job is done. No fuss. No added expense. Just good value.

As key distributors of Gebrik, MechSlip, NaturAL-X and Terreal, Aquarian Cladding Systems is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of brick and terracotta cladding systems. Working with architects, contractors, developers and installation specialists, Aquarian’s cladding systems have been used on many award-winning buildings across a wide range of sectors. Paul has more than 34 years in the construction industry and sits on various Management Boards, including Constructing Excellence South West.