Born in the very last years of the 20th Century and now thriving in the 21st Century, leading cleaning chemicals manufacturer Greyland is one of those literal ‘rags to riches’ success stories that warms the heart: Starting from nothing, growing steadily year on year, doubling turnover and staff in the past six years alone, Greyland is now set to grow even further with the recent acquisition of major new customers.
Greyland was founded in Stockport in 1999 by Richard Dyson and five other experienced chemical manufacturing employees. With little investment available they had to use all their wisdom from the start just to survive.
Defying convention from the very beginning, they chose a line of products that would sell, using clear, concise, labelling, with no obscure brand names or code numbers, just plain English descriptions of what the product was expected to do; i.e. Toilet Cleaner/Descaler, Lemon Floor Gel, Machine Dishwash, Ivory Lotion Soap, being just a few examples. Those early products are big sellers to this day.
This simple approach was ground breaking, and apparently just what the market wanted, as their first order was fulfilled just two weeks after Greyland-branded products first went into production.
It says much for the appreciation of the entrepreneurial nature of this industry that buyers were prepared to give the fledgling business a chance, when clearly there were well-established alternative manufacturers available to them. What follows are the reasons why:
The products worked. Not only did they work, but they were also delivered on time, and cleaning staff liked using them. Nor did they come with an eye-watering price tag either, which of course the buyers liked. The buyers also liked the nigh-on 100% order fulfillment, which compares very favourably with most manufacturers, where up to one third of an order is marked ‘To Follow’, meaning that an order to delivery cycle can run into many weeks, if not months.
The simple recipe for success was thus established with the right ingredients early on.
With a shortage of start-up funding there was really only one financial route Greyland could take: Reinvestment. This has been continual from the beginning, and remains so to this day. Reinvestment has driven the company’s growth ever since.
Moving into a much larger, modern manufacturing, warehousing and administration facility six years ago after almost literally bursting at the seams in their old, somewhat tired original factory and separate warehouse, both turnover and staff have doubled since.
Staff levels have risen from about 25 at the time of the move, to almost 50 now. As managing director Richard Dyson says, “Not everything can be automated”, however automation is where much of the investment has gone. Currently the bottle-filling lines are about to undergo a 50% increase in capacity with new production equipment being installed.
A pallet load can be filled and stacked in around 30 minutes, consisting of 5 litre containers, 1 litre angle-necks, and 750 ml trigger-sprays aimed largely at the Catering, Housekeeping, and Washroom markets. Beginning two years ago Greyland has moved over to utilising as much recycled plastics in its product containers as possible; currently it is around 75% recycled materials.
“We are of course very much in the hands of the bottle manufacturers and the technological advances they can make,” explains Richard Dyson, “But with support from companies like ourselves who are prepared to be early investors, they will eventually succeed in producing 100% recycled materials that are satisfactory for our purposes and better for the planet.”
Labelling was one of the initial, key factors in driving forward the prosperity of the company, and naturally Greyland continues to make great strides in this regard, with anti-fade, wet resistant, more durable labels than can be expected from many trade competitors, printed in-house with state of the art equipment, able to augment standard information with key images as well as guiding pictograms to indicate acidity / alkalinity ratios, as well as a new visible coding system for improved stock control.
Greyland is ISO 9001 and 14001 compliant, long valued members of green network, CHSA, UK Cleaning Products Industry Association and British Safety Council.
We’ve not quite come around full circle yet, for the company is currently looking to expand its warehousing capability, which at present is ‘tight but right’, and with the soon to be expected 50% increase in capacity with the new filling lines, logjams are best prevented, rather than being dealt with afterwards.
There are a number of options available, but you can be sure that an announcement will be made very soon.
Here’s to the next 20 years!