As a growing and developing business we are conscious that we have the potential to have an increasing environmental and social impact both directly and indirectly. We have a responsibility to take all practical and meaningful steps to minimise any detrimental impacts and to maximise those that help to ensure the future sustainability of our business, our local community and the wider world.
Our business provides our customers with the machinery and equipment they need to work the land in a multitude of different sectors including agriculture, turf care, golf course management, grounds and garden maintenance. The land we live on is a precious resource and we have a unique opportunity to help our customers nurture its potential and protect it for future generations.
We started as a family business back in 1954 and we remain a family business today. Our family has grown and we now employ over 250 people operating from 10 different locations across the South East of England. With this growth comes an increased responsibility to ensure we work hard to provide our employees a safe, meaningful and rewarding place to work that helps them fulfil their maximum potential, provide for their families and gives them a strong sense of wellbeing. We are an integral part of the communities in which we live and work and are conscious of the need for us to be neighbours that provide a positive contribution.
We fully appreciate that the sustainability of our business is not a destination but a journey and one where we must continuously push the boundaries to find new ways to be better tomorrow that we are today. We are proud of the progress we have made to date but know there is much more that we can and should be doing to develop our sustainability and to support others doing the same.
We would like to share with you our current commitments on our journey of sustainability.
In order to improve we need to understand where we are. Over the last two years we have developed practices to measure both our energy consumption and carbon footprint. We will continue to build this knowledge base and use this to help us understand which areas of our business have the most environmental impact. Our future strategic and tactical business plans will include initiatives to manage these impacts.
The advanced technology built into the products we represent can help our customers manage their impact on the environment and biodiversity. We will actively encourage our customers to digitally map the areas of land they manage and the crops they are producing. This mapping provides an accurate picture of the crop condition and enable inputs such as chemical sprays and fertilisers to only be applied where they are needed. This will reduce the use of these inputs and their effect on the environment and biodiversity.
Our machinery can be configured with GPS guidance systems that are accurate to within a few centimetres. This enables the machinery passes over the land to be pinpoint accurate so reducing the amount of overlap between runs. We will actively promote the benefits of this technology to our customers.
We will support our agricultural customers to adopt minimum tillage operations whereby the soil is only lightly disturbed when planting and establishing a new crop. This will help minimise the release of carbon from the soil.
Our machinery can accurately monitor fuel consumption. Machinery configuration can have a dramatic effect on the amount of fuel consumed. Our specialists will advise our customers on the most efficient working practices to reduce fuel consumption.
We will continually develop our customer support philosophy of being proactive and not reactive. We would rather prevent a breakdown than fix one. Many of our machinery systems can be connected to remotely enabling us to continuously monitor performance during operation through our control centre. This will enable us to identify potential failures before they occur and diagnose issues in advance of visiting the customer.
As a machinery dealership it is vital for our business success and sustainability that we select the right machinery supplier partners. We will continue to work hard to secure the representation of the most respected global machinery manufacturers. We will only work with supplier partners that share our core values. Our key suppliers will need to demonstrate that environmental and social sustainability is central to their business strategy.
We have identified that fuel used for transportation is a significant proportion of our energy consumption. We will aim to reduce all non-essential travel relating to commuting, customer field support and machinery movements. We will continue to keep our fleet of vehicles up to date and specified with the latest developments in emissions and fuel consumption technology. We will continue to measure our fuel usage across the business and develop actions to reduce consumption. In addition, we will continue to develop our IT infrastructure to enable remote working when beneficial to efficiency, productivity and employee wellbeing.
Our 10 outlets are our other major consumer of energy. We have installed roof solar panels and an air source heat pump system at one of our locations. We will complete the evaluation of these renewable energy systems with the aim of adding additional installations at our other locations. We will continue with our programme of switching out filament bulb lighting for LED equivalents across all our locations.
We are committed to both ensuring that we reduce the amount of waste produced by the business and that as much as possible of the waste generated is recycled. We know the types of waste we produce and record the movements of this waste. We will continue to rely on the expertise of the network of specialist third party contractors we have in place to handle and recycle our waste. In addition, we will engage more closely with these contractors to understand the amount of waste we are generating by type and how much is subsequently recycled. We will use this knowledge to help us develop business practices to reduce our overall waste generation and increase the proportion of recycling.
Most of the cardboard comes from our suppliers in the form of packaging. All our key suppliers are using cardboard packaging that can be recycled. When shipping parts to customers we will continue to use cardboard packaging sourced from our suppliers. All surplus cardboard is being compressed into compact bales at our locations to reduce it volume prior to collection for recycling.
We have significantly reduced our volume of printing and the associated paper required. We will continue to encourage our employees, customers and suppliers to send information and documents electronically. We will increasingly utilise our on-line document signing system to reduce the need to print and circulate paper copies. Most of our external communications will be sent in digital format significantly reducing the need for printing and posting.
All our locations monitor water use through water meters. We use pressure washers over hoses as these use less water. Our pressure washers will continue to be replaced on a regular replacement cycle and maintained under a service contract with a third party specialist company.
The nature of our business means that we must handle and manage several different hazardous substances. Through our external health and safety consultant we comply with all the requirements relating to COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health). We continue to take all the steps necessary to minimise risks to people and the environment. We will continue to minimise the use of these substances and find safer alternatives wherever possible. Our employees will receive the required training on how to handle these substances and protect themselves and others around them.
Most of the single use plastics coming through our business are component parts of the products we represent. Plastics can provide many benefits, including weight reduction, reduced fuel consumption and higher payload capacity. Plastics can improve the durability of exteriors, provide corrosion resistance and reduce the need for painting. Whilst plastics will remain an integral part of the products we represent, our key suppliers are working to maximise the use of sustainable recyclable plastics and reduce the reliance on single use equivalents.
The sector in which the business operates finds it difficult to attract talent and there is a significant skills shortage. Our objective is to change this and to be the leading employer in our sector and community. We will continue to recruit, as often as we can, from our local area. We will further develop our own training and development programmes in order to ensure our employees have every opportunity to maximise their potential. Our specialist apprentice training programme will continue to develop our young technicians. Our team of HR professionals will ensure that the business is acting responsibly and ethically when managing and supporting our employees. Our business will continue to work with its external health & safety consultant to help ensure we keep our employees safe at work through compliance with all the current health and safety legislation.
Our ethos is to respect and value people’s differences. We believe that all decisions about people at work should be based on the individual’s abilities, skills, performance and behaviour, nothing else. All our employees over 23 years of age are paid at or above the minimum living wage. We have recently introduced an Employee Assistance Programme through an external provider to support the wellbeing of our employees.
The nature of our business means that we are an integral part of the rural communities in which we operate. Many of our customers are also friends and our employees often live in these communities. We will continue to support local people and institutions in any way we can.