The year 2022 is becoming an exciting year for Smith Brothers because not only is the company celebrating its 125th anniversary, but the Southampton branch has also reached its 10th anniversary.
Cast your mind back to 2012, to when the Olympics were happening in London, the Queen was celebrating her 60th Jubilee and the England football team lost on penalties to Italy in the quarter finals of the Euros.
Donna LeMay was on a mission to set up SBS Southampton to service the South Coast. She was looking to put together a knowledgeable team and find a unit that could house a wide variety of stock so they could offer the best service possible.
She did this by finding six enthusiastic and experienced people within the industry, and a unit sized 13,500 sq. ft. located within the St. Georges Industrial Estate. Therefore, the Southampton branch was formed, and became the 9th depot to join the Smith Brothers network.
Today, Smith Brothers has 17 branches within England, Scotland and Wales, including newly opened branches in Sheffield, High Wycombe and Cambridge. These joined the network last year, making it easier for the business to service all HVAC needs across the UK.
Eight years after opening during the 2020 pandemic, the branch had outgrown its original premises which led to its relocation from a 13,500 unit to a 25,000+ sq. ft. premises within the Omega Enterprise Park. This has significantly increased Southampton’s operational capacity and allowed the branch to have the room to grow their business further.
Southampton now operates with two Branch Managers, with the appointment of Barry Hardy. Barry joined in 2020, bringing a wealth of industry experience with him to help run the branch, alongside Donna.
Since its opening, the branch has grown significantly, its budget, number of staff and vehicle fleet.
The branch’s budget has quadrupled since opening, showing excellent growth over the last decade. This period includes the uncertainty of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
When starting, the team had seven people, whereas today Southampton has tripled its workforce to 21 members. All the staff are carefully selected to be committed, helpful and product knowledgeable, having excellent reputations within the industry. Southampton are even looking to employ someone within the Air Conditioning and Ancillaries sector to offer even more specialist support.
Donna was Smith Brothers first female Branch Manager, and the company would like to thank Donna for her loyalty as she will be reaching her 10th service anniversary with the business, along with other branch staff.
Barry Hardy has only been working for SBS for over two years and has also helped shape the branch. He has been focused on helping to grow the sales of the branch, while further establishing SBS Southampton as the number one HVAC distributor on the South coast.
Having started with two vehicles, Southampton has grown its fleet to six. All of the vehicles are silver FORS accredited and SBS have held this accreditation since 2015.
Southampton’s current fleet compromises of five 3.5 tonne sprinters and one 7.5 tonne lorry. The branch is looking to upgrade the lorry to an 18-tonne HGV with a Hiab crane, so they can fulfil larger orders.
Some of the staff members now use fully electric cars, aiming to reduce the company’s carbon emissions. To accommodate the cars, the depot has installed charging points, which will promote the use of both electric and hybrid vehicles within the business.
When moving, the branch was kitted out with the state-of-the-art equipment that can help the branch further reach the demands of their customers. Furthermore, Southampton is already looking to increase its stock levels by introducing a mezzanine floor within the branch.
Secrets to success
When the branch managers were asked their secret to success, they stated that it was down to the hard work of the team, relying on them to have a good work ethic and to keep communication throughout the branch.
They also believe that giving customers exceptional service is vital, keeping the interaction going throughout the order process from start to finish and honouring the SBS Promise of Staff, Stock and Service.
Comments from the Branch Managers
“Our competitors said we would be a flash in the pan and wouldn’t be around a year after we opened. But here we are ten years later, stronger than ever and aiming high for the future.”Donna LeMay – Southampton Branch Manager
“During the 10 years we have been open, our dedicated team has built a great branch, and I’m proud to be part of the leadership team guiding this ship. I believe that our branch will reach its 20th anniversary and beyond.”
“I joined Smith Brothers just before moving to our new location a little over two years ago. Since then, we have gone from strength to strength, adding new stock ranges and investing significantly in the existing ranges. We have also added more experienced staff, which has helped us build a reputation for excellent customer service.”
“Our branch has seen phenomenal growth during this relatively short period. We currently have plans in place to grow further the mechanical services products we offer and more importantly our air conditioning business which will form a large part of our long-term growth.”Barry Hardy – Southampton Branch Manager