ATF Professional had the opportunity to speak to Richard Brennan, Managing Director at Ted Brennan Motors Ltd, a leading supplier of car and van parts based on the border between Monaghan and Armagh Ireland, to find out more about the company, his thoughts on Brexit, and where they are headed.
Ted Brennan Motors began as an auto repair business by Richard’s father in 1975 and is situated just one mile from the Northern Ireland border in Castleblayney Co. Monaghan, a rural part of Ireland. Richard took over in 2006, so it remains a family-run business.
Since the start, being so close to the border has presented them with many positives as well as some challenges; Dealing with currency between the British Pound, the Old Punt and the Euro is part and parcel of everyday life, not to mention Brexit.
The company diversified and grew Ted2Tow recovery business, then Ted4Parts, Teds Recycling and Tedanco.com Consultancy, which mentors and helps companies implement strong foundations, processes and systems.
Richard told us when dealing with the traditional scrapyards back in the day; the company was always frustrated with the quality of parts, the time it took to get a part and the poor customer service offered by many yards. He said:
“So after being awarded a national contract for salvage in 2012, we headhunted a professional team who understands parts. And with proper training and adding to our customer service acumen along with our professional approach, we have grown every year to date, supplying dealers, independents and body shops throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe.”
He added: “We have a 4-minute rule for when a part is ordered; our KPI is that the part ready is for dispatch. Lean and a culture of continuous improvement is a huge part of the business with the operations manager and team trained in this field.
We focus on the B2B market and work tirelessly to ensure this is looked after, just like a ‘newborn baby’.”
Just over six years ago, they secured a recovery contract with the police in the south of Ireland. And then after this, they started to get involved with salvage and parts. This took over the business. Now 80% of the business is parts and recycling, and 20% is recovery and repair, he said: “it was a kind of natural progression.”
From this, they approached things from a different angle to bring lean manufacturing and six sigma into the business to have processes and efficiencies, which has given a good foundation towards growth creating a strong presence in Europe and the North of Ireland.
They have a volume-based model and have successfully won tenders with the insurance companies and police for high-end and low-value vehicles which are deemed end-of-life, enabling them to process up to 500 vehicles per month.
The company collects from all over Southern Ireland including Dublin and other major cities, and sell a lot back to the UK. As an eBay top seller, it has opened doors to Holland, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Finland over the last two years. Richard said: “seeing our green parts being loaded onto a pallet and shipped all over Europe gives us a great buzz”.
As for staff, they have 18 and have just taken on another two key experienced business managers to help look after their European customers. And being based in Southern Ireland, Richard said they have excellent logistic channels to the EU zone.
When asked about their view on green parts, Richard said that their team are genuinely focused and motivated by supplying green parts and offering an alternative to manufacturing and processing a new part. An approach that he believes all recyclers must adopt to move forward.
Illegal operators are a massive challenge. Because they are on the border (which is not an obvious border), there is a lot of illegal activity with cash for cars which are driven across the border; after which, documents become untraceable. Richard said, because of the area they live in, there are a lot of people taking these opportunities; there are unlicensed scrapyards and unlicensed operators collecting vehicles for cash which then just disappear. But this is an ongoing problem; there just aren’t enough people in local authorities or councils or enough police to dedicate time to this. Richard said all they can do is support ELVES and adhere to operating legally.
What about Brexit?
Richard is expecting ‘twists and turns’, and although they have received Brexit vouchers, and a lot of money has been pumped towards helping the business get ready for it, there is still uncertainty. Fortunately, because of their location, which is on the border to the UK, they look forward to continuing trading with the UK and growing the business in Europe.
But to continue their link to the mainland UK, Ted4parts have just completed a merger with a well-established car breaker in Nothern Ireland.
Richard said that it very much reminds him of an older type of salvage yard, but they are committed and focused on bringing it into the new way of recycling in terms of IT, proper systems, processes and lean methodology throughout the business.
This was strategic as a result of Brexit. It is close to the docks and will help in buying and organising delivery to their customers in the UK.
While their Irish base services southern Ireland and the EU, they hope to open a distribution hub in a strategic location in Germany within the next two years.