"It was a necessity," says Eric Bezemer of NeKo Ship Supply's decision to move to brand new facilities at the start of March. "It was a decision made of need rather than of luxury. We had simply become too big for where we were."
Indeed they had. Eric explains that their previous premises had 550 sq m of office space and a warehouse of 3,1150 sq m. Staff were sprawled across a number of different locations and the warehouse was at capacity and becoming increasingly prohibitive to the company's smooth operation. It could take 45 minutes to load a single order for transportation, often in the wet, for example.
When we speak to Eric, NeKo has been in its new offices for just over three weeks, and already the difference was noticeable. The premises is tailor-made for NeKo's purposes, with a total surface area of 22,000 sq m, and 10,000 sq m of modern warehouse comprising 22 loading docks and 700 sq m of chilled and frozen storage space. Loading times for each order are as little as 15 minutes now, and all NeKo's staff are in the same building. Crucially it gives them the capability and flexibility to store a wider range of goods, which is great business.
"We were struggling with space," explains Eric. "So there were items that we were looking to buy in bigger quantities to be able to supply, but the space we had didn't allow us to; so we had to buy for each individual ship's use in smaller orders and from local sources.
"Now we are able to buy in bigger quantities and put that in stock. That means we get a better deal and our customers will benefit from that. We can pass our savings on to customers. Of course, up to a certain level, it allows us to be a bit more flexible too."
The increased flexibility is already being demonstrated in a couple of key areas. The increased capacity means NeKo can store items that once had to be delivered daily or weekly, meaning that it can be far more reactive. The range and variety of food stuffs have increased too, allowing NeKo to supply a wider variety of items to ships and meet the demands of the crew.
Meanwhile, NeKo is now also able to buy items closer to source and in bigger volumes. "When you have huge purchasing volume and space available you can look at buying directly from manufacturers as opposed to someone in the middle. It means we can make additional savings that in turn benefits our customers."
So what does this mean for the company's future? "This move puts us in a strong position," says Eric. "It's created a basis for being more competitive and more professional; we'll have everything in one space, one location and we can act quickly. This will have a huge spin off for our turnover. We are expecting a considerable increase in sales over the coming years."
Indeed, if this month us anything to go by, Eric's vision will come true!
"Oddly enough, we have been here for only two weeks and last week was the busiest week in our history," he adds.
"We were standing in our warehouse, completely amazing saying 'we haven't moved one week too early!' How on earth we would have coped with it on our old premises we don't know. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that we've seen such huge growth this month in comparison to last year.
"We are very proud of what we have achieved, but we also have to remain humble!"