December 2014 was a momentous month for the Egbert Taylor Group, specialists in four-wheeled metal bins, when it appointed Brendan Murphy as its new chief executive.
At the time, the group said it hoped Murphy’s appointment would “further accelerate the company’s growth plans within the UK and overseas and help boost new product development”.
Well, it appears that in less than a year, Murphy has done that and more.
Among the initiatives introduced by the CEO, the Egbert Taylor Group has launched new products including the e-bin, a fully galvanised 1,100-litre bin, as well as WasteSafe, a container designed for the safe handling, storage and transportation of toxic or hazardous waste. New schemes include a voucher system so that each customer who buys either a new bin or a bin through Taylor’s approved used service will be given a voucher towards approved used products, spares and accessories. And with an eye to the global market, Taylor is in the process of opening an office in the Middle East.
Not bad for someone who has been in situ for less than 12 months, eh?
So who is Brendan Murphy?
“Prior to joining the Egbert Taylor Group, I was group sales director at the Volution Group, a holding company in the ventilation sector that owned brands such as Vent-Axia and Manrose Manufacturing. My role was to sit on the main management board,” recalls Murphy. “The company had a turnover in excess of £120 million and I was with them for three years.
“When it floated on the FTSE, it got to a juncture when I felt it was a good time to leave. Essentially it was a very amicable split.”
Before then he was commercial director for the UK & Ireland with Wavin UK, a specialist in plastic pipe systems, and previous to that he worked as general manager/director at Dunlop Slazenger.
“My background has always been commercial,” continues Murphy.
It is a career path that has clearly worked for this high-octane executive whose performance drew him to the attention of Sullivan Street, the investment firm that acquired Taylor in 2011 for £15 million.
“Sullivan Street recognised the value in the group where there was a very operational way of managing the business, and that continued until 2014,” explains the chief executive. “However, the problem with the op side is that you can only squeeze so much out of the business – you have to drive the top line. This meant the company lacked a commercial focus and when I joined that was what sold the business to me.”
Discussions with Sullivan Street began in August last year and Murphy joined the Egbert Taylor Group four months later.
“The group needed a commercial and energised person to bring people along that journey, and one of the reasons Sullivan Street saw me as a good fit in terms of the leader they wanted in the business was because I work at pace. If you asked my family and friends, energy is not something I lack,” smiles Murphy. He pauses before commenting: “The last 25 years have gone very quickly, but I don’t think a year has gone as fast as the last 12 months.”
According to the chief executive, the group’s strategy is built on four pillars.
“These are looking after our core business, supply, manufacture and refurbishment of four-wheeled containers,” says Murphy succinctly, before admitting: “It is a difficult market to operate in as you have lots of pressure on local authorities with severe spending cuts. Private national contractors have to be more efficient and keener on price. We feel it so we have to be more innovative as we trade with our traditional partners.”
A new approach
Taking a pragmatic view of the austere spending climate in which local government now finds itself means adopting a new approach, and this is something that Murphy has taken on board without losing sight of the Egbert Taylor Group’s core business.
“We’re trying to work with our customers instead of merely looking for tomorrow’s order and asking: How can we work with them next year?” explains the chief executive. “We aim to help them manage their fleet and maximise the best use of their bin stock.”
Along with the focus on its core business, Murphy has overseen investment in new stock, new moulds as well as changing the way the company delivers its containers.
“We have moved away from doing the transport ourselves,” he states.
To this end, the group has partnered with logistics specialist Wincanton. When the partnership was agreed, Murphy said at the time: “Our partnership with Wincanton will enable Taylor to remain competitive, strengthen Taylor’s position throughout the UK and allow us to reallocate resource to areas of the business where we can add value.”
“From operating our own 11 trucks around the whole of the UK, we now have access to Wincanton’s fleet of 3,600 trucks. Not only is their reach far greater, but there is no fall-off in terms of our service levels, but better and faster delivery,” says Murphy with evident satisfaction.
Nor is this the only partnership the group has entered into. Earlier this month, it unveiled a strategic partnership with Bigbelly, the smart waste and recycling system. Its hi-tech bins are tough, solar-powered systems which compact ‘on the go’ waste.
The move will see the Bigbelly UK sales and operations teams transfer across to the Egbert Taylor Group.
When it comes to offering customers greater choice and a better service, Taylor – under Murphy’s guidance – is also taking a proactive approach to global sales.
“Traditionally we have exported around the globe, but on a reactive basis and on a remote perspective,” he says, before explaining the group has appointed a general manager in the Middle East and is currently recruiting for a sales manager.
“The plan is to set up a branch with a sizeable sales room in Dubai. We feel that unless you are investing in the region, you will always be considered as an outsider and on the periphery. ‘If you want to be here, you have to be here’. There’s no point in doing it any other way and we see the Middle East as a great way to test our strategy.”
Nor is the investment in pushing Taylor products to a wider audience going to end there; Murphy says the group plans to look at an in-market presence in South America.
“If you are exporting on a remote strategy, you go purely on price, whereas by having a presence in the region, you can offer after-care service and even to the extent of refurbishing the product, buying the bins back or swopping them; you can’t do it remotely,” he explains.
And if you think there is not much more that can be done in terms of expanding the market for waste containers, think again.
The enterprising chief executive swiftly moves onto his next idea: that of moving into the bespoke market.
“At the moment we are passive in terms of companies within the food sector like Procter & Gamble and Baxters (the food manufacturer best known for canned soups) who need bespoke containers in which to move raw materials around,” Murphy acknowledges.
Two and two equals five
“There’s so much more we can do, whether it’s moving food or laundry and non-clinical waste for hospitals. In fact, we have a business development manager speaking to customers about manufacturing dexterity, how we can make metal containers and what we can do for them. The level of enquiries and pipeline of business is quite strong.”
He pauses before commenting: “My hope is that two and two will equal five and bring the team together to make it more productive.”
With the energised Brendan Murphy at the helm, there appears to be no danger of that not happening.