Bacton Transport Services
Bacton Transport Services is a family-owned business in its third generation, now led by Charles and Edward Downie, the grandsons of its founder. We started to talk to them in connection to their imminent move to a new depot headquarters, with increased capacity and a landmark location beside the A14, the main artery from Felixstowe Port to the Midlands and outward across the UK, an area heavily populated by the haulage industry.
Their move means growth, and growth requires focus. The Downies’ plan included creating a new leadership team with directors focused on core areas of the business (operations, HR and commercial) supported by senior level managers for other business requirements. Empowering this team requires clarity of vision and expectations, and so Bacton invited us to work with them to identify and articulate values that would give people across the business the ambition and dedication required for this growth: with the challenge that many of their staff are a long way from HQ either driving or located at client premises.
We first met the team who were destined for director and senior leadership roles long before the move to their new depot, and facilitated a workshop in which we discussed what values bring to an organisation, what Bacton’s values might be, and how the process would work. Following this meeting they and other team members proposed a long list of staff, suppliers and clients, ensuring we had a mix of levels, length of connection, even picking some with whom they knew there were issues.
We contacted those people to explain the purpose of our work, to ask their support by sparing the time for a one-to-one phone or video conference call (lockdown had just been imposed), and to share with them the form our interview would take. Of those approached around 60% agreed to a call, and over the next weeks we had a wide ranging and informative set of conversations.
These revealed excellent insights. There were very clear patterns of behaviour and expectation. It was heartening to discover how kind the business sets out to be to its team, and how flexible when need be. (In fact I am starting to believe that the organisations that commission this intuitively tend towards kindness, and are seeking to marshall it.) We also found a clear vocabulary and tone of voice that made the style we needed to adopt very clear. Additionally we were told of service and communications issues that needed an immediate response, which we reported back straight away for the Bacton team to deal with.
From this set of conversations, some follow ups and reviews of our notes, we developed a succinct and relevant set of values that would help the owners and leadership team create a culture of excellence and effort across the business. We called them ‘The Bacton Way’ and alongside that we built a narrative that set out the vision and values, their importance and the ‘why’ of the business.
Hand in hand with this, the senior team was working to understand what vision they could put in place that would inspire this level of effort. They landed on ‘To join the Motor Transport Top 100 by 2025’ - a vision that summarises scale, income and capacity in an accessible way.
We presented The Bacton Way to the team, and their feedback was incorporated into edits that took on board their requirements for real-world application and changed a few of the words used; they were commendably focused on what would land with their team, in their daily working lives. Having agreed on the precise phrases, we then worked together in a pair of workshops spread over two months on how these could be explained as single words, in context and what they meant for people’s behaviours.
In the time we had been working with Bacton, COVID 19 and Brexit had a huge impact on their industry, with lorry driver shortages widely reported and having a knock-on effect to retail supply chains and customer service. On the good side, Bacton moved into their new depot in the summer of 2021, had not suffered as badly as many of their peers with drivers leaving, and ensured that the whole team, at base and spread out across the UK, felt valued and appreciated. The team had grown and a new generation of mid-level leaders was now being developed to support the ongoing flourishing of Bacton Transport Services.
So our final two workshops were held with the new emerging leaders as well as their established directors and senior leaders, ensuring that this vital team was brought into the process, contributing and ensuring The Bacton Way would help them to deliver their aims. We reviewed the process so far, generated ideas of ways that the values could be brought to life in areas of the business, and finally presented these back to them as a starting point for their successful launch.
We work together to grow together
We know exactly where we’re going
We really do go the extra mile
Wherever you are, you’re part of the family.
The values were launched in early 2022, with directors and senior leaders developing plans to integrate them within their own areas of responsibility. A large wall at the entrance of the new depot has the values applied by a signwriter: and in a twist that really shows focus, not just the values but also brief descriptions of what they mean in context.
The Bacton Way has been brought into team development, to ensure that each and every member of staff is benefiting from the values and growing through them. Bacton has continued to demonstrate that with vision and values growth is possible even in challenging times, and their resilience is reaping its rewards.
"Erika has an intuitive understanding for the relevance of ethos and culture in the modern workplace. Working with her helped us to bring our values to life and articulate them in a way which all our people, customers and suppliers can relate to as practical, demonstrable and sincere. The Bacton Way has become an important part of life at the company and a key part of our strategy for growing the business."
Charles Downie, Managing Director, Bacton Transport Services