Five minutes with Jeremy Thompson
As the flood of fast-paced technologies continue to disrupt the status quo of the tertiary sector, falling behind is easily done. Yet for Mach 1 managing director, Jeremy Thompson, steady growth and a recent rebrand marks 151 years of industry success.
Firstly, if you could talk a bit about Mach 1, it's history, growth, and what that means now?
The company goes back 151 years, it was started by my great grandfather in 1865, he was the first station master of St. Pancras. We were railway agents, then we started a travel agency back in the 1920s. We carried on very much in that same vein for the first 100 years or so. I'm a chartered accountant by profession, I joined the business soon after qualifying in the 1970's, and started the courier side of the business in 1984. It rapidly became the dominant part of the group and in 1994 we commenced our strategy of growth through acquisition. We bought, on average, one company or one business every year for the last 22 years. We've just recently acquired two companies in the last two months (Creative Cars & Couriers and Destinations Green). That's been our strategy up to now, and we intend to continue to grow both organically and through acquisition. We feel that this new brand, 'Absolutely,' will very much help us do that. With the assistance of Buchanan's PR and our own in-house sales and marketing team, we intend to make a big impact on the London market.
How did the rebrand come about, and how did you think of the name 'Absolutely'?
Well we didn't actually, we employed a brand consultancy. People often think that you can just sit in the bath one evening and just think up a name, it's never as simple as that. We went to a firm of experts who did a huge amount of research on the industry, they spoke to many of our clients, staff, drivers and so forth, to really get a feel for what this company was like, to understand the ethos. They came up with this term 'Absolutely' and we really thought it fitted the bill. It captures what we are, it gets the message across that nothing is too difficult for us.
Absolutely offers four main services that are quite demanding, how is it balancing these four services?
They are what we call the four centres of excellence, we've got really experienced people in each of the four branches, but each of the branches specialise in one of the four, so the same day is in our WC1 location, the executive car service is based up in NW5, our overnight division are part of the APC network, and then we have our international specialist division down in Heathrow.
How do the recent acquisitions, as well as the 20+ groups already owned by Mach 1, come together under Absolutely?
There's two aspects to that, firstly, there's the branding aspect with both companies now rebranded as Absolutely. Then there's also the operational aspect, and operationally, the Destinations Green client base has been slotted into our Central London, WC1 branch, and it's all been a seamless transition. Creative Cars & Couriers has merged with our NW5 location for its car services with its same-day and courier operations also merging with our WC1 location.
With regards to Absolutely' s digital presence, the website and mobile usability, how do you hope to progress your technology moving forward?
We've had all this technology for quite some time as we have an involvement, a shareholding in a company called DA Systems Ltd and they are the principle provider of software to the courier industry. We are at the forefront of technology, as and when they come up with new functionality, we generally get it first for beta tests. When we come up with new requirements based on our customers’ requirements, we arrange for DA Systems to have that implemented. The new website is a big improvement for us, as our old websites were a bit archaic, we hope to move forward in the same vein.