Wraxalls has been a Prater supply chain partner for the last 25 years. In this Q&A session with owner Nigel Wraxall, we take a look at what makes a good relationship, key projects and what he feels are the main challenges for the industry going forward.
Can you tell us a little about Wraxalls?
Our business began in 1946, when my grandfather purchased Seatown beach in Dorset. From this beach, he picked small pebbles and cobbles and sold them in large quantities mainly to the Potteries for ceramic production.
Since then, the business has evolved enormously, and we now own a large yard in Kent, where we stock a wide variety of flat roofing shingle, selected cobbles and many types of decorative stone.
How did the relationship between Prater and Wraxalls come about?
The first significant job we undertook together was Center Parcs in Longleat Forest during 1995-1996, and Prater contacted us after winning the contract. At that time, the sheer amount of tonnage required meant it was one of our largest projects to date. Right from the start, we shared a focus on mutual support and communication, which was fundamental to that project’s success. We became an official supply chain partner in 2007.
What has been the project Wraxalls is most proud to have worked on with Prater?
There have been many – but I would probably have to say the Westfield Shopping Centre in White City, back when Westfield was still a new name on the market and not the brand it is today. During the build, we had to supply 4,000 tonnes of roofing shingle in total, to protect the waterproofing and insulation from UV rays, and manage water run off. Effectively, it was like a small beach up there!
Due to the size of the site, there were limitations with how much product we could have on site at a time, so there were daily scheduled deliveries to accommodate this. I believe we were delivering about six lorry loads or 156 tonnes of roofing shingle to the project per day during the busiest stages.
What do you currently have in the work pipeline with Prater?
We’re on site at the moment on Chelsea Barracks, which is a high-end residential project in London. We’ve delivered bespoke paving for about 210 balconies and terraces so it’s a challenging and complex project.
How would you describe our working relationship?
In regard to the day to day, we communicate very often. I’d say approximately a quarter of my working week is spent talking to Prater to discuss joint projects and to cover any outstanding queries we may have.
We also make sure we dedicate one day a month, at minimum, to see each other face-to-face. Our relationship is incredibly important. Ultimately, our clients need to know the supply chain they have employed has a strong working relationship.
We need to be honest and open about what the entire project team is expected to deliver and I’m pleased to say that core values around honesty and teamwork are genuinely shared between our organisations.
Why do you think ours is a good example of a supply chain relationship?
Wraxalls and Prater have been working together for nearly three decades so collaboration is embedded in all levels of our interaction. That means not just on site but between all Wraxall and Prater individuals who have to communicate and share information that contributes towards a successful job.
This means we trust each other a great deal, and it means we can come to each other with ideas, innovations and proactively discuss projects and any potential challenges we might have on-site before we even get there. This keeps our projects working efficiently and effectively.
What do you see as the main challenges in the industry and how do supply chains face them effectively?
Understanding the very significant and rapid uptake in technology throughout the industry is key, as digital objects and platforms are developing to improve construction and ensure there are no surprises when it comes to getting on site.
The best way to understand the technology being used is for the whole supply chain to have open discussions about what innovations can make the job more effective, and to demonstrate the benefits. It is key for the rest of the supply chain to have time to clearly grasp the technology and how it works, which can only happen with strong, effective communication.
For example, we’ve recognised that building owners and developers are looking more stringently at ethical trading and sustainability, and want evidence of the carbon impact created by a building.
Over the past eighteen months, Wraxalls has begun developing a way to audit our CO2 footprint. Given that we deal in transporting heavy material to site, often from quarries outside of the UK, we want to ensure that we are transparent and share information about this process.
As such, we give our customers access to our CO2 Calculator, which provides information about the materials and its carbon impact. This information can then be audited and documented by everyone, from specifiers to end users.