Roofing supply merchants Alltype is celebrating its 35th year of trading, as well as the 20th anniversary of its Dulwich Depot.
The company was founded by brothers Fred and Jim Bick, who were both roofing contractors in the mid-seventies when they become frustrated by manufacturer supply issues and tile shortages. In response they decided to invest their savings in a stock of roofing tiles so that when the manufacturers ran out, they began to sell. It was at that point they realised the opportunity that lay within the supply chain.
In 1979, Fred’s son Vince opened the first Alltype Depot, renting a corner within a small industrial unit on Marmadon Road, London. Alltype now service all of London and the Home Counties from five depots, and says it is one of the largest independent roofing merchants in the UK.
Vince Bick, Alltype’s managing director, said: “This celebration is significant, as we look to come out of the second major recession we have faced, there is certainly a sense of achievement. Alongside this we are particularly proud to still be independently owned. I think we prove that there is still opportunity for a family-run business to compete with corporate franchises.”
He continued: “Our Dulwich Depot in particular has been pivotal within our growth, although it’s our smallest depot it has been instrumental. We have had to be resourceful, flexible and responsive in order to survive here; we have learned a lot in Dulwich and it has really informed our brand and growth strategy. As a community, Dulwich certainly seems to provide a platform for independent, family-run businesses to flourish. We have a lot of clients who also run family businesses, so they can relate to what we are trying to achieve, we are all pulling in the same direction.”
Alltype says its success is partly due to its relationship with customers, considering them more than a ?target market’.
Simon Haldane, manager at the Dulwich store, said “We are good friends with a lot of our clients, from the older guys who run some of the larger companies, to the younger guys that are just starting out, right through to the DIY customers who are doing construction on their own homes. We get to know each of them individually; we talk through their job, the products and all the specifications they are dealing with at each phase of construction. We try to look past simply selling products and consider the project; it’s a partnership with our clients.”
David Roche, general manager for Alltype, said: “We place a lot of emphasis on communicating with our clients and understanding their needs. While this is obviously key within the relationship, it also enables us to understand how the market is changing and how demand is shifting.”
As well as connecting with customers on a personal level, Alltype seeks to engage with the industry and support innovation. Last year the company sponsored Central Saint Martins Innovation Management course, supplying it with the materials required to construct all of the MA Degree Shows and the following Innovation Conference.
Vince Bick said: “Adopting innovation and embracing change are key topics within our business model; being flexible and efficiently responding to industry demand has been a significant factor in our longevity. We believe it will be those companies, who view change not as a threat but as an opportunity, that will thrive. We want to be one of them.”