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Pirtek HQ - Network Support

05/09/2018 | General

At the heart of Pirtek’s UK operation is the headquarters in Acton Vale, west London. And central to enabling franchises to do their jobs, is the network support team, familiar to all those who manage centres and their logistics. When product is needed, it’s to them that centre managers and franchisees turn.

The network support team is a small group of people who manage an enormous amount of interaction with franchises and the Milton Keynes 3PL depot. Led by Jon Oswald, the team has four members.

As well as managing and coordinating all the stock that leaves dedicated logistics facility, the network support team sources non-standard stock items known as “special products”, arranges the supply of products for special projects; provides technical support to all 86 Pirtek centres throughout the UK and Ireland, and deals with strategic pricing and carriage management for the network.

Jon Oswald has worked for Pirtek for a total of 12 years and led the network support team since September 2016. He has also worked for Europower Hydraulics and JCB.

Jon says of his team, “We have a good hardworking team who are always prepared to go the extra mile for the centres.”

Tony Spencer is a network support coordinator with 21 years’ experience at Pirtek, around 10 of them in Network Support in Acton. A gruff man of few words, he is characterised as an elder statesman by the team. “Tony’s the dad, he looks out for everybody… he’s the grumpy old man.”

 Tony gives the long view. “A lot has changed in the time I’ve been here. Things have really moved forward; the company has grown enormously. We’ve even done orders for Singapore and the States.

“I started picking in the warehouse [which was then] opposite, became a supervisor and then managed the warehouse before coming into the office and network support.”

Tony gets great satisfaction from delivering help to franchises when they need it. “If the centres need some special parts, we source them and send them over to them. If there’s a shortfall, we get them direct.”

Attention to detail is important, he says. “We send an email to out logistics facility to make sure they cut hose to the correct length – we don’t want to get a phone call the next day saying they’ve sent a hose in two pieces.”

Centres are appreciative of the support the team provides, he says. “There’ve been a few times where centres have phoned up at half five saying ‘I need this for tomorrow morning.’ We speak to the supplier, get the part to the franchise the next day and they get in contact us later and say ‘you’ve really got me out of a hole.’”

Kevin Geary is a more recent addition and has been at Pirtek for two years.

“We have our own allocated centres,” he says. “Some of them are very chatty and you can crack a joke with them. Others just want you to do your job, help them out, solve the problem and get on with it.”

“If someone needs a non-standard part, we’ll source it for them, speak to suppliers, get a quote to the centre and tell them the lead times.

Previously Kevin worked in plumbing “still pipes, but not hydraulics”, he says. “Sometimes I get asked a lot of technical stuff – but the support is there.”

Inventory controller, Rajan Gurang, started with Pirtek in November 2016. Before coming over to the company, he was a materials planner for Monster Energy (drinks) – buying the raw materials.

“My job is quite different from the other guys. I manage the stock levels in the warehouse, dealing with the warehouse people and the suppliers. My first task of the day is to make sure the stocks are reconciled, matching the warehouse quantities.

While other members of the team are in close contact with the centres, Rajan is in touch with a wider audience. “Mostly I communicate with our logistic facility or the national or international suppliers,” he says.

“Some of the suppliers are national; others international,” he says, “and we manage a complete season’s demand of products through a complex supply chain.”

Although his work is different from the frontline team members, Rajan works in close coordination with them. “I have a good relationship with the rest of the team. If there is any shortage they will shout over to me and say ‘Where is the stock? Can you get it for me?’

“The working culture is really good,” Rajan says. My work is a little more solo than the others’ meaning I can manage my own time.”

Simona Smitaite, the team’s administrator came over to Pirtek’s London head office in September 2017, having previously worked at the national DHL depot in Milton Keynes.

“Jon poached me from DHL in Milton Keynes because he’d worked with me before,” she says. “I make sure all the orders are leaving, report to Jon, collect returns and coordinate with DHL.”

Having worked on the other end of the distribution operation, Simona says it was a little strange at first but she quickly fitted in. “I had been at DHL in Milton Keynes for four years so I already knew everyone here.”

Jon is clearly pleased with her work, saying, “Simona’s been brilliant, i just a few months she has brought significant improvement in our process, keeping our customers stocked and happy”

Chatting to the group together, they bounce off each other. “It is a good team – the loudest in the office,” says one.

“We have to have the banter, the interaction to build trust,” says Jon. “They’ve threatened to put us in a glass box at the end of the office.”

The team members characterise Jon as a good leader and Tony gives him a ringing endorsement: “Could be better,” he says. Everyone clearly knows how to take Tony’s wit.

Jon says “Everyone’s got their little quirks but as a team we work well together. For the amount that we get tasked with on a daily basis, we don’t do too bad. I think we’re punching above our weight. The key is that we talk the same language as the centres.”

As for the future, he says, “We know we need more people – we need a bigger team but we’re not going to rush and hire the wrong person.”

Anyone interested in joining the network support team should call Jon on 020 8749 8444 or email [email protected]

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