An interview with Tim Hercock, Managing Director of Vacu-Lug.
Since 2008, the global transport industry has, like most industries, needed to adapt to contracting demand. This, for many, has necessitated cost cutting, product diversification, more imaginative marketing and a return to traditional quality values in order to differentiate in an ‘over-supplied’ market place.
In these respects, what key steps has Vacu-Lug taken to stay ahead?
“In general terms, we have always subscribed to the principles of efficient manufacturing and our product development being market-led. Accordingly, our basic tenet is to continually invest in technology, plant and people, while developing our product range to match industry needs. In this regard, we are pioneers in the production of high mileage and low rolling-resistance tyres and have led the way across many sectors providing fleet support to keep operators cost-effective and compliant.”
How is the company performing, year-on-year?
“Last year was our best for 20 years. This is as much about the intelligent use of resources as it is to do with maintaining long term partnerships with like-minded suppliers and customers. With the common goal of maintaining high quality and value for money, we can and do make a difference together.”
Brexit. Competition from traditional brands and ‘cheap imports’ is affected not least, by currency fluctuation and ‘uncertainty’.
What effect has this had on Vacu-Lug and does this present an opportunity for the ‘home-grown’ premium, retread Vacu-Lug tyre?
“Vacu-Lug has always aimed to deliver consistency. It is this objective which underpins our success. Now, with the advent of Brexit and the weaker pound, retread options can be re-examined by the market while foreign imports become less price-competitive. In so doing, businesses in the UK and Europe can now make the choice to switch to retreads and discover the cost and operational advantages of a truly stable product. Furthermore, the conditions created in the aftermath of Brexit have allowed us to galvanise our export activities in European countries such as The Netherlands and Germany. Effectively, the market is wide open for us.”
Vacu-Lug is established as a leading supplier of retread and new tyres to numerous sectors of the UK CV industry. The company is also well known as a specialist fleet management solutions provider.
Where does Vacu-Lug’s strength lie in future years regarding the wide diversity of products and services which it currently provides?
“Our strength lies in our independence and fleet management capability. In this respect, we are unmatched in the UK. Unlike many of the conglomerates, Vacu-Lug can draw from its strong alliances with new tyre providers such as Pirelli, Westlake and Yokohama and offer a wide range of tyre choice within individual fleets. Off-road, commercial, logistics, vans, new or retread, we have it covered. It’s all about mixing choices relative to customer needs.”
Vacu-Lug has an impressive track record spanning over 65 years. The company employs approximately 150 people, major investments have been made over the last few years at the Grantham works and three new tyres have recently been added to the Logistik and Duramold range.
What is your vision for Vacu-Lug and what plans do you have for the future?
“We will continue spearheading into the logistics sector, where our new Logistik tyre range is already exceeding expectations. The waste sector, one of our traditional markets, presents further opportunity for the management of ancillary equipment and this, like our other chosen sectors will continue to benefit from the breadth of support provided by VMS – our advanced tyre fleet management system. Meanwhile, we intend to widen our OTR offering and also to move into the PSV sector where our proven supply formula of new and retread tyres will give PSV operators greater flexibility of choice.”
“Our vision is clear. To maintain a trajectory of profitable growth borne from the supply of high value, sustainably produced products in our chosen markets throughout Europe. Market leadership for us is not necessarily an ambition but more of a consequence: as long as we strive to be the best at what we do, we will continue to share success with our partners and customers throughout the industry.”