Peter Simpson sees a lot of brown boxes in his working week.
Thousands in fact and whilst he jokes that ‘a brown box is a brown box’ he knows that what is in these boxes is critical to SK Chilled Foods’ business.
Peter is our Supply Chain Controller, he has the power to move boxes, and many other things, with a single stare. Ok, so we are exaggerating a little, he does also use a phone and a computer, as well as a well oiled, 30-strong team.
Peter’s fundamental responsibility at SK is ensure that the customer gets what they ordered, in the right amount, in the right quality at the right time. And when you consider our customers include many of the UK’s largest supermarkets, you soon understand why his role is so important.
Peter describes his role as being like a puzzle; it’s about moving things around until everything is complete, and ensuring our food gets to our customers in the freshest possible state, is just part of the puzzle.
As well as ‘the outbound’ product, he also has to ensure that everything from onions and spices, through to cardboard packaging and plastic film arrives at our central distribution centre in Wynyard is the right quantity and quality.
He explains: “Whether it’s breadcrumb, flour, plastic film or cardboard boxes, all of our customers have a list of preferred suppliers and we need to work with them to ensure everything is ordered and delivered correctly.
“Everything apart from fresh vegetables and meat are brought here to Wynyard, so it’s a seven-day a week operation here and at our manufacturing sites.
“When you consider we produce 180,000 to 200,000 cases of food, and very varied food at that, you can see why quality and accuracy is so vital to us as the business.
“It’s even things like ensuring that food with allergens in them, such as sesame and dairy, are stored away from other food to prevent cross contamination.
Peter and his team work with all departments in SK, including, operations, new product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales. As well as dealing with customers, Peter is also regularly on the phone, or meeting, with third parties such as hauliers and companies who supply ingredients and packaging.
He adds: “It’s certainly not a 9-5 job and I have a very full contacts book in my phone, but it’s a job I enjoy, and I have been here almost ten years now so that tells you something.
“There are times, e.g. at Christmas, where it gets so busy with things coming in and out that it appears all a whirr, but we plan so far ahead and have great internal systems so everything runs like clockwork.
“There’s a lot of job satisfaction knowing you have helped to get so much good food on supermarket shelves.”