AS part of the build up to the official launch of the annual Top 100 Companies in South West Wales in September, a ranking published by this newspaper, sponsors Barclays and PwC have been visiting companies featured in the ranking.
Their latest outing was to logistics company NR Evans. The company was formed in the early 1980s when Neil Evans set up his own logistics business with just one lorry. A few decades and several major contracts later, NR Evans Logistics has grown to a fleet size of roughly 173 lorries and a turnover of nearly £30 million.
The business is still growing. It is on target for a turnover of over £32 million for the year ended this August. Meanwhile, the £1.3 million profit it made last year is expected to grow to around the £1.7 million mark.
"Based on our plans and the work that is currently in place we are expecting a turnover of around £38 million for next year with a corresponding increase in profit," said group finance director Huw Edwards.
Evans' first big break was winning the contract for Dawn Meats when the company first came to Wales. Since then he has acquired many other big customers, including Home Bargains, Dairy Crest and Tesco.
It has expanded from its Carmarthenshire base to have six depots based all over the UK. Evans, the founder, perceives the company's growth as slow and steady – a result of the fact that he has always insisted on ensuring his company is able to cope with an increase in work before going out and selling a product.
"We could have grown much quicker than we have but we could have grown out of control," he said.
"There has also been an emphasis on building long term relationships and having a partner relationship with the key customers," added Edwards. "The strategy has always been to make sure the management team, resources and structure are in place ahead of growth."
The company also places great emphasis on the quality of its service and of its equipment. Some 99% of its deliveries are made on time. Its lorries are on average around two years old, and there is great attention to detail in every aspect of the running of the business, including an emphasis on weekly accounts and weekly KPIs (key performance indicators), drilling down to fully understand how each depot is performing.
Evans was one of the first people in the UK to recognise the potential of telematics to monitor the efficiency of his fleet and his drivers, and as the technology has become more sophisticated, he has embraced vehicle tracking to the point that the vast majority of the fleet is now fully tracked.
With all these advances the company is aiming to achieve turnover in excess of £45 million in the coming years. Costs may be rising, but a number of competitors have fallen by the wayside and the company's UK coverage - plus its efficiency and cost effectiveness - have steadily improved.
The company has come a long way since those early days when Evans began work with a single lorry. He puts his success down to passion.
"It's a passion for doing the job right, and to develop myself and the company," he said. "I've always had that passion and it didn't matter what it took, I wanted to achieve that."