It’s no surprise to be invited to meet the directors of Tudor Multi Services in an office in the Paddock Wood headquarters of fruit importer, packer and distributor Mack.
While in theory Tudor Multi Services looks after Mack’s maintenance needs in the same way that any other contractor provides the business with a service, in reality the links are much closer – and with good reason.
“We are treated like part of the team because that’s the approach we take to the job,” explained director James Tumber. “We don’t just turn up, fix what’s wrong and go away again. We look after the plant on a full-time basis and we have a 100% commitment to making sure it is running properly.”
Tudor Multi Services has its own office in the building – and James and partner Tudor Petcu have broadened the range of services they provide to the fruit importer.
Their rapidly growing business is about to undertake a major refurbishment of the staff facilities at the Mack headquarters, replacing ceilings, walls, flooring, toilets and canteen fittings in a major update to the building.
The company has already expanded its operation from maintaining the refrigeration, ripening rooms and air conditioning plant to hygiene cleaning, looking after the air handling equipment, installing new roller doors, recladding parts of the building and generally tackling any repair job that needs doing.
While Mack was Tudor Multi Services’ first client, other businesses, from distribution companies to farmers, have been quick to spot the benefits offered by a team that can meet virtually any maintenance or refurbishment need. “We called ourselves ‘Multi Services’ for a very good reason,” said James. “It was the best way to sum up what we offered.”
While they now offer a broad range of services, the partners are particularly skilled in mechanical and electrical maintenance and can tackle virtually any type of plant, however old it may be.
James explained: “We have seen contractors take one look at the complex wiring in some of the plant rooms here and just walk away. It’s not something that fazes us, though – we have many years of experience in dealing with all kinds of systems and we pride ourselves in our ability to take on any challenge.
“Some of the kit we face when we go on to farms is pretty old, but we have the knowledge and the determination to keep it going – or to upgrade it if required. No equipment is too old – or too new – for us to look after.”
It was that skill and commitment that Mack recognised when the company was looking for a new supplier for its maintenance needs. James and Tudor were working for the current supplier at the time but were confident that they could come up with a strong proposal.
“We felt that if we set up on our own we could deliver the kind of personal service and dedicated response that Mack was looking for and so we took the plunge and set up on our own,” said James. “That was in March 2015, and our growth since then has been remarkable.”
After exceeding their own business plan forecasts by 200% in year one, Tudor Multi Services is now heading for a £1m turnover, a remarkable achievement for a company that was only set up 18 months or so ago.
James believes the company has achieved that success by concentrating on customer service, its broad skills basis and a focus on quality that saw it achieve ISO 9001:2015 within eight months of its launch date. The team is fully trained in using scissor lifts and forklifts and prides itself on its approach to health and safety.
Alongside mechanical and electrical maintenance, Tudor Multi Services specialises in installing rapid rise, sectional and roller doors, as well as dock levellers. It has also installed barrier protection throughout the Mack building and for other big name companies including Unipart, Turners and Kerry Foods.
The company also offers complete refurbishment solutions to farmers and businesses, from installing new roller doors to re-cladding buildings or providing new lighting, air conditioning or refrigeration systems.
As well as looking after the maintenance and refurbishment needs of the farming industry, the nine-strong team is also at home in more urban environments, looking after air conditioning for ADT Energy in a number of city office buildings and carrying out property maintenance for a number of letting agents.
The company’s commitment to making life better for clients in the longer term rather than just tackling that day’s repair is highlighted by its focus on ‘root cause analysis’.
“We go beyond just dealing with what’s not working at the time and try to find out what has caused the breakdown,” explained Tudor. “That way we don’t just get the machinery back up and running but we make sure that the same problem doesn’t reoccur.”
That approach is backed up by a comprehensive shared asset management system that means each engineer completes a report on any callout and logs it on a computerised system. It means that an engineer going to a similar issue, or doing follow up work on the same plant, knows exactly what has been done and what the problem might be.
“It’s all part of our determination to add value to what we do for our clients, and it’s why we are expanding both the range of work we do for each customer and the number of customers we look after,” said James, who qualified as an electrician in 1994 after serving an apprenticeship.
He moved into refrigeration in 1995 and was trained by John Haffenden, then the boss of Country Cooling and still one of the most respected names in the world of fruit storage.
After working in Spain with his brother Mark from 2001 to 2008, focusing on property maintenance and air conditioning, James returned to Kent and worked with a large fruit packing business at which he met Tudor, then part of the operations team with specialist responsibility for robotics.
James made good use of Tudor’s unique skillset and moved him on to his maintenance team, and when James left to join a mechanical and engineering contracting company with a focus on refrigeration, it wasn’t long before he invited his former colleague to join him.
“When Mack was looking for a new team to look after this building in Paddock Wood, I could see there was an opportunity, but I knew that to make it work I would need to ask Tudor to be my partner in the new business,” James recalled.
The team has since grown to nine, but James and Tudor are still very ‘ hands-on’ and provide a 24-hour service to their customers. “We don’t take holiday at the same time and we are always on call; this is not an industry where you can ask the client to wait a day or two,” explained Tudor.
The focus now is on growing the business while continuing to deliver a high standard of service to existing customers such as Mack. “We are looking to employ full-time admin staff and train new engineers in order to support the next phase of the company’s expansion,” said James.