“Wheels are another way for us to differentiate”
For nearly 25 years, STARCO has been supplying wheels, tyres and tubes to British manufacturer Walsall Wheelbarrows. A partnership that sees both companies growing and developing together.
Back in the 1940s, the Thacker family was the first to produce steel wheelbarrows in the UK. The business took off with the post-war construction upturn and today the two grandchildren of the wheelbarrow pioneer, Simon and Johnathan Thacker, run the wheelbarrow business in the West Midlands of England.
“If there is any problem, STARCO will fix it. They understand us and our supply chain, and they react fast,” states Jonathan Thacker, Operations Director at Walsall Wheelbarrows. He stresses that the mutual trust is the key for the good collaboration. “The trust in Mike, Phil and Emma at STARCO allows me to spend my time on other things.”
Walsall can produce up to 3,500 wheelbarrows per day and is the only wheelbarrow manufacturing site in the UK. STARCO delivers both tubes and pneumatic tyres along with the popular puncture-proof STARCO Flex iCore2 and has been a key supplier to Walsall since the business was established in 1994.
“Our relationship really developed over time. I appreciate the way we complement each other and do product development together,” says Mike Andrews, Manufacturing Director at STARCO DML that manufactures the puncture-proof products and works closely with the Walsall team on new developments.
Thacker states that the main task related to the wheels always has been “how to reduce weight and reduce costs.” This has been the starting point for the light weight and high-quality STARCO produced iCore wheel and tyre solution.
“If there is any problem, STARCO will fix it. They understand us and our supply chain, and they react fast. The trust in Mike, Phil and Emma at STARCO allows me to spend my time on other things.”
“We always look at what is creating the problems, and we develop from there,” says Thacker. For instance, competing with Chinese labour cost; here the answer has been automation of the production line. Also, tyres being too heavy or too expensive, or it could be loss of air in the pneumatic tyres in the ‘Barrow in a Box’.
“The Barrow in a Box concept requires a guarantee of quality every time, so with the puncture-proof solutions we can be 100% sure the tyres will be OK, even if our customers have them on stock for a while.”
Today the popular ‘Barrow in a Box’ comes with a STARCO Flex iCore tyre, which Walsall markets as ‘Titan’ Universal Puncture Proof Wheel.
“We fought for nearly 10 years to gain sales within retail and internet sales,” says Thacker, which today accounts for a significant part of the revenue. Walsall focuses mainly on the construction and building industry, however they gained a footing in the retail business during the recent years. Here the setup for these products is different when it comes to supply, packaging, delivery and demand.
The business is currently operated by 50 employees and 16 robots. After a record-breaking May and a slower June, the management at Walsall is hoping for good gardening weather though out the season and looks forward to keep growing with STARCO as a key partner.
“Wheels are another way for us to differentiate, so we need a good supplier” says Thacker. “It’s as simple as that.”
About Walsall Wheelbarrows
The family-run Walsall Wheelbarrow Company is the only remaining manufacturer of wheelbarrows in the UK and has been in the business for more than 60 years. The company has more than 50 employees and produces all their barrows on-site in the factory in the West Midlands. They can produce up to 3,500 barrows per day and their designs are the ‘Hallmark of Quality’.
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