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Recovering Our Mojo
There can be few businesses or organisations that have not been directly or indirectly affected by the global recession beginning in 2008. The long-awaited signs of economic recovery have been eagerly awaited and slow in coming.
I believe former Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel expressed a sound view point when he exclaimed ‘you should never let a serious crisis go to waste’ and as we doggedly drag ourselves from the depths of the economic myrrh, I hope we will at least bring some of what we have learned over the last five years with us, I believe it may prove useful.
For a start I think any business that has managed to keep the critical bits of its anatomy above the waterline during the recession should congratulate itself on surviving the storm and should then take the opportunity to thank the people who have made it possible; hard-working staff, a loyal customer base, possibly a resilient, determined, creative (stubborn?) management team. Together you found a formula to get through, don’t go mad but give yourselves a nod in the mirror next time you are there you achieved something to be proud of.
We will all have our own ‘war stories’ to tell and the UK recycling industry feels particularly heroic; we had something of a ‘perfect storm’; quiet customers producing less tonnes of recycling, low demand for raw materials meant low prices and yet diesel, electricity and so many of our other basic costs seemed unable to stop themselves rising. A whole new raft of competitors entered our market at this time hoping for rewards as the rising cost of land-fill drove more people to seek solutions in recycling. This was truly a very tough gig!
Could any good have come out of it? Well yes I think the TGM experience is that ‘what didn’t kill us, actually made us stronger’ and whilst we are suffering the effects of serious ‘corporate malnutrition’ and are no doubt weakened, we are anxious to go forward embracing the future rather than to return to where we were before the recession….we’ve learned stuff and we plan to use it!
We have a smaller business than we did in 2008 and it is way leaner. We have maintained our good reputation for our service levels and our truck fleet is in good shape but our enviable reputation as one of the fastest payers in the business has been badly damaged and is only now slowly on the mend.
Where we have gained is that the recession made us stop and think…. quite a lot actually. Why do we do what we do? Does it have a point? Is it still worthwhile and credible?
Where many businesses were hanging on for dear life because they simply didn’t know what else to do TGM overcame its doubts because our ‘curse’ became a ’blessing’. Waste Paper recycling is a cruel mistress but once she is in your blood-stream you are committed, ‘a lifer’ as we say. We have had some hellishly difficult decisions to take over the last five years and have not always shown ourselves as text book managers and leaders but the uniting force that keeps us drawing breath and motivating our team is we have a passion for this business.
Absolutely this business has a reason for being and absolutely it deserves to survive! What TGM does is important, we enabled around a hundred thousand tonnes of waste paper to be recycled in 2012 and in spite of the difficulties we did it by the book, without cutting corners and we did it well.
We believe that going forward there is a role for us and we think we now better understand where our strengths are. Being competitive is vital but always being the cheapest or the highest rebater is not so critical. Our attention to detail and commitment to doing this work honourably, legitimately and fairly is what will set us apart. We can be trusted to be ‘there or there abouts and do the work reliably and properly.
We have never been a particular fan of mission statements but we now feel rather proud of our goal and want others to know what has put the lead back in our pencil. We have a new mission statement and are once again proud to say ‘’TGM is open for business’.
TGM’s Goal is to be recognised as the best independent waste paper merchant in the south-east of England by December 31st 2014.
We will do this by offering:
Honesty, transparency and fairness in all dealings with our staff, customers and suppliers.
The most reliable collections service.
Regular and reliable payments.
The most friendly and helpful staff.
The Best equipped vehicle fleet.
And by being one of the most consistently competitive rebaters in the business.
Simon Razzell – September 2013