2021: The Year In Review
10 minutes to read
2021 proved to be another challenging year for everyone involved in the global logistics industry. However, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the UK’s exit from the EU and an ongoing labour crisis in the haulage sector, Hemisphere has continued to deliver innovative solutions for clients, launch a total logistics service and expand our teams.
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back and reflect on how the company – and the world – has changed, and remember the highlights from what has been a momentous time for the company.
Starting the year with the B-word and the C-word
The new year brought new challenges. We felt like we’d seen the worst of Covid and the restrictions we’d had to endure in 2020, and as the clock ticked past midnight on 31st December, the transition period for the UK leaving the EU officially ended. But both Covid and Brexit were to continue to have a big influence on our business in 2021.
Being ahead of the curve, we started 2021 by preparing for the new ways we’d have to work with clients to ensure both their and our businesses ran smoothly. We set up a dedicated customs clearance team in tandem with our bonded warehouses (enabling us to clear bulk imports more easily), expanded our European team and consulted heavily with clients on how to keep the supply chains moving, so they could maintain stock, obtain vital components and fulfil orders promptly.
At the start of the year, we also ran a series of outdoor bootcamp sessions to help employees get back outside and see their colleagues safely. The optional sessions were delivered by Ipswich Boot Camps, owned by former Premier League footballer Ruel Fox.
Bringing Total Logistics to Mexico
As the government published its road map to bring the country out of lockdown in February, we were focused on delivering a completely new type of project. Working with a long-standing client, we converted one of our warehouses into a production line for rail track parts for the Mexico City metro, saving both our client and the end user a significant amount of time, costs and complications.
With our facility being so close to Port of Felixstowe, the processes for import of components, assembly, packing and export was completely streamlined, while our Total Logistics team ensured all finished items shipped on time. Our work on this project formed the basis for a BIFA Awards submission, and we’ve been shortlisted in two categories. Fingers crossed!
When a huge ship got stuck where it shouldn’t…
March was an eventful month in the global shipping industry, with the container ship Ever Given running aground in the Suez Canal, rendering one of the world’s most frequently-used shipping lanes unpassable for a week. This had a significant impact on global shipping movements, with hundreds of other vessels also held up by the closure. Our logistics teams worked tirelessly to keep clients informed and develop alternative plans where possible for them to fulfill projects – including the rail track project mentioned above.
Barton Freight joins the team
After a close relationship for many years, HFS took the step of acquiring Barton Freight Services, expanding our expertise and bringing Clare Moss into our team as our Key Accounts Manager in April.
New people and promotions – across the board and across the world
We have welcomed a host of new faces while also promoting some of our experienced staff to more senior positions. This year so far, we have added 25 new experts into the Hemisphere team, given 13 promotions, with 20 new team members taking on fresh opportunities to enhance their knowledge and expertise. Year on year, we’ve seen a 22% increase in team members bringing our strength of expertise up to 135 people.
Michael Webster joined us as Warehouse Operations Manager, with four more support staff coming on board as operatives and administration. In response to the huge surge in online shopping, Francisco Perreira also joined the team as Fulfilment Administrator, looking after the needs of Amazon sellers and other fulfillment clients.
The UK’s departure from the EU necessitated extra staff to handle the increased customs clearance requirements for transporting cargo, so we were pleased to welcome Samantha Betts and Jack Jones to our customs department. We also grew our road transport arm, with Stephanie Cole joining as UK Transport Operative and Robyn Jepp and Donna Begg as European Operatives, with four new drivers also joining the team, to name but a few!
Across the rest of our operations, we also welcomed Robbie Douglas and Sam Davies in New Zealand, Joanna Ling in China and Jessica Attiba as Global Network Manager. Phew!
“Every one of our new recruits brings experience and energy to the Hemisphere team, and they join at an incredibly exciting time for the business.” – Andy Perrin, MD
Meanwhile, we took the opportunity to place experienced staff where they could be most effective and progress their careers.
The biggest news in this respect was the promotion of Craig Perrin to Director. His career trajectory has been stellar – rising from warehouse operative to UK Warehousing & Transport Manager and being named as Warehouse Manager of the Year within the space of a decade. Well done Craig!
Elsewhere in the team, Richard Jackson was promoted to European Logistics Manager, Ian Stewart stepped up to lead our Customs team, Karen Vincent gained more responsibility as Warehouse Administration Manager, Stephanie Cotton was promoted to ETSF Supervisor for our bonded warehouses and Phillip Rushby moved into the newly-created role of Fulfillment Manager.
Later in the year, the in-house promotions continued across our teams, with Paul Milligan stepping up to UK Transport Manager with Ricardo Branco joining him as Transport Supervisor. Sophie Lochrie was promoted to Ocean Export Supervisor while Tracy Reidy became our Total Logistics Supervisor after being with us for 17 years.
We genuinely want employees to enjoy fulfilling careers within our business. This year, a total of 30 people have either been promoted or moved across into a different department to further their skills, knowledge and experience.
“We invest heavily in staff development at Hemisphere. Everyone has earned their promotions through hard work, dedication and consistently delighting our customers.” – Diane Hance, HR manager
Not letting the world slow us down
The expanded teams across Hemisphere all got to work in June, steering the company through the perfect storm of the backlog from the Suez Canal blockage, a partial closure of the world’s 4th-largest container port in China, an enormous spike in online shopping, the ensuing build-up of freight, a shortage of truck drivers and of course the ongoing global pandemic, which is affecting some countries more than others.
Against the backdrop of numerous supply-chain challenges, the whole company continued to work relentlessly and our business continued to grow. This is a huge testament to our client base and the service being delivered by our team.
Bringing Total Logistics to our customers
Having accrued twenty years’ experience in all aspects of shipping at Hemisphere, Simon Joseph was appointed to lead our new specific ‘Total Logistics’ team. Directly aimed at helping clients transporting goods via road, rail, sea and air from all over the globe, the service offers clients an umbrella view of their freight, with Simon and his team enabling complete end-to-end logistics management of even the most complex of supply chains.
Mid-year, we also announced the opening of our new warehousing facility at the Port of Felixstowe, creating an additional 60,000 square feet of space at one of the UK’s most important ports. This meant we could expand our fulfillment operations with the focus on providing a more dedicated and focused ETSF service.
Making time for charity
Craig and Louis Perrin took on the Rat Race Coast to Coast challenge in Scotland over the weekend of the 11th and 12th September to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK. After running, cycling and kayaking the 105 miles from Nairn on the north-east coast to the Isle of Glencoe off the west coast they managed to smash their target, with a total of £4,000 raised. Amazing work!
Over the past year, we have also continued our support for Inspire Suffolk, which equips young people with the skills and confidence to make their way into employment or further training. As well as providing employment to a few of those enrolled in its development programmes, we raised and donated thousands of pounds for the charity this year.
Not just a global company, but a company with a local and sustainable focus
We’re proud to have played a major part in local job creation over the past year, with 72% of new hires living within a 20-mile radius of our Ipswich HQ.
And as part of our drive to reduce carbon emissions, we upgraded fork trucks in our warehouses to a fully-electric fleet and purchased three carbon emission-compliant Euro 6 HGVs. Total investment in new equipment and vehicles came to approximately £775,000, setting us up to scale comfortably alongside the needs of our customers.
Giving clients visibility of their supply chains
Also catering to the needs of our customers, this year saw us introduce the ultimate tool to provide insight and peace of mind. Our Compass system was groundbreaking in allowing customers to track their shipments as they progressed through every point in the supply chain around the globe – sending live updates to desktop, phone or tablet via a dedicated online portal. This means clients feel completely informed, removes any anxiety around possible delays or unknown events, and enables them to plan the rest of their process accordingly.
Complementing this, our new Warehouse Track & Trace management system now lets customers log on to check their current inventory levels in our warehouses, monitor inbound shipments and track outgoing orders. If clients require, we can even automate order picking, set up alerts for when stock levels drop below a certain point and send reports seamlessly on-demand via EDI links or Excel sheets.
Seeing the year in with a bang!
It was a privilege to be shortlisted as finalists for some key awards at the end of this year. Firstly for SME of the Year at the 2021 Suffolk Business Awards in November. And secondly in two categories at the BIFA Freight Service Awards: ‘Extra Mile’ and ‘Supply Chain Management’. The winners will be announced at the special ceremony in January.
These nominations are a huge credit to all our teams’ hard work over the past 12-18 months. They’ve consistently gone the extra mile and found innovative solutions for our clients during the challenging circumstances around Covid-19 and Brexit.
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the BIFA awards next month, and continuing to deliver exceptional service to all our clients going forward into 2022. Happy New Year!
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