Smith Brothers is one of the largest and oldest independent merchants operating from the UK directly focusing on supplying to the commercial and industrial mechanical services sector. Operating from England and Wales, SBS now forms a twelve branch network along with an additional head office in Blaby, Leicester. Our Merseyside branch is the latest opening in August 2016 where our hand picked staff make up an excellent team, strengthening our position in the North West and North Wales.
With history dating back to 1897, the company enters its 121st year, which still remains family owned with the 5th generation present within the 250+ strong workforce. The core business specialises in the distribution of pipework, valves and all associated fittings and continues to increase both our product portfolio and geographical coverage. Offering added value over our competitors is the ambition and is achieved in a multitude of ways. Firstly, drawing from our close relationships with carefully selected and quality assured suppliers. Secondly, maintaining excellent stock levels at all branches therefore reducing supplier lead times, which combined, provide unrivalled levels of service with competitive pricing.
Today sees Smith Brothers stockholding in excess of £15 million with the heavy investment primarily aimed to reduce delivery times and plateau any price increases for our customers. Branch stock levels are encouraged to remain high so reliance isn’t placed on drawing stock from the rest of the group, meaning our suppliers deal with all areas of Smith Brothers.
Advertised business hours are 7:30am till 5pm Monday to Friday, however virtually all branches extend beyond this by opening earlier, closing later or operating on Saturdays, especially during peak trading periods. For example, SBS Southampton regularly start from 6:30am and SBS Thurrock can often be found still open at 6pm loading lorries for next day deliveries. Outside these hours Smith Brothers can be reached through our website, the App and even Area Sales Managers who may offer emergency assistance. Traditional service is same day collection or next day delivery via our silver FORS accredited fleet of vehicles, such as HGV’s with the 2017 improved Hiab crane capable of lifting over two tonnes. If required, at extra cost we also offer same day delivery despatched and en route within 60 minutes, however it is usually within 20 minutes if no outside carrier is required. Keeping the customer informed during their purchasing journey is crucial to customer retention, which is why many areas of the business are focused to improving this capacity and developments are constantly evolving.
We feel the business has an obligation to assist consumers in understanding the products sold by helping them to facilitate projects prior and post install. That’s why our customers have access to technical product managers who can offer specialist support, such as CISBE accredited CPD training on Multilayer systems. The CPD training example mentioned has the flexibility of being conducted on-site, our offices, customer premises or a neutral location. Besides technical product managers all sales managers can facilitate customer training (both on and off site), take-offs and meet specific project requirements such as timed delivery slots. Internally, training is always underway particularly with our drivers as the transport department keep the roads safe and business ecologically focused. Intense induction training, which includes health and safety, along with regular CPC courses give our transport employees a great foundation for success. It isn’t just SBS who believe our process is comprehensive, the fleet recognition scheme FORS agree, awarding Smith Brothers Bronze membership in 2013 then upgrading the award to Silver in 2017. Safe urban driving courses, e-learning modules for our employees along with lower emission vehicles are recent developments which have helped progress SBS in this area. To mark staff commitment and company successes, Smith Brothers thanked everyone by holding a national event (May 2017) where 25 and 10 years of continuous service was recognised with an award to 37 employees, a company first and has been implemented moving forward.
Smith Brothers believes the business demonstrates all the characteristics of a ‘Wholesaler/Distributor of the Year’ as we remain committed to the industry aiming to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for everything HVAC. Focusing on 2017, key developments such as supplier agreements with IMI TA and Viega highlight our dedication to bring the marketplace not only the latest, but also exclusive products. For example, Viega is the first manufacturer to provide the industry with a press joining system for traditional black iron steel for hydronic and gas applications. At ISH back in March, Viega announced come October MegaPress will be extending up to 4” from the current 2” format. Smith Brothers felt the need, especially with the development to 4”, having the availability becoming a stockist so our customers have a full spectrum of press-fit options. With IMI TA, which started in 1897 like SBS, they created the world’s first manual balancing valve in the 1950’s and have now developed a brand known for leading the way in high efficiency, control and performance with over 2.5 million valves likely to be produced this year. Both manufacturer’s product and quality matches our own performance which made the connection an attractive proposition.
Fundamentally the performance of a wholesaler/distributor can be judged by its customer base and turnover, which has increased again both last year and forecasted this year to an operation of over £80 million. It’s the product area growth and stock levels, along with our operational capacity which really set us apart. Therefore we feel a more than a capable candidate for such an award plus our unprecedented successes are not just for today. Standing still is effectively going backwards in our industry so the importance of being proactive can’t be undervalued. This is why our investment strategy is for sustainable growth through the continued development of our people and product range, with the support of our suppliers and shareholders. Smith Brothers will continue to maintain our desire to surpass our customers’ expectations with a level of service that will continually add value to their changing needs.