Logix Park, in Hinckley, near Leicester is one of Johnson Apparelmaster’s flagship sites. Originally intended as a flatwork plant for sister company Stalbridge, the site underwent a £6million conversion to change it to garment hire and specifically food-service garments.

The food sector accounts for the majority of the work but the plant also provides garment rental to industrial businesses and processes items for several government agencies in the Leicester and Notts area.

One of 16 Apparelmaster sites in the region, Logix Park is the largest in terms of volume. It employs 198 staff including drivers and a full customer service team. The production department has a staff of 75.

Business has grown rapidly in the three years since it opened. General manager Murray Leiper says that since the initial move into Logix the workload has almost doubled, exceeding the original expectations. He adds that work is still increasing with several major contracts starting over the coming months.

“I don’t think anybody could have predicted how effective the plant could be,” says Kevin Allen, area manager for the Midlands.

Leiper agrees and explains that the plant has a 100% success rate in signing new business with potential customers that visit and view the site. The record on keeping that business is good too. “We haven’t lost a food-service customer in the three years since we¹ve been here”.

Certainly the plant is impressive. It’s highly automated and all food-service garments are processed with the highest standards of hygiene. (Johnsons Apparelmaster gained accreditation to 14065 bio-contamination control in 2008).

A series of vacuum tubes connects the tunnel washer production line to the cleanroom finishing section so garments are transferred without being handled by staff outside the cleanroom.

A strict set of rules applies in this finishing area. The section is cleaned thoroughly throughout the day and officially inspected on a regular basis. Production methods and standards are often audited by the customers, at will.

“We have a manual that sets out procedures and every customer is given a copy,” says Leiper.

He believes that the Logix Park plant has unique selling points to recommend it to food-service customers.

The plant has good “green” credentials. It recycles 80% of its water and the equipment is designed to save water and energy.

The vacuum tube transfer system maintains maximum hygiene.

“I haven’t seen any other food unit that has been specifically built for this purpose,” comments Leiper.

In addition the location is ideal for the food-service industry. The customer base is extensive covering the majority of the midlands.

The achievement is broad based.

While automation is obviously part of the success so too are the people that work there, whether in production, in sales or customer service or out on delivery vehicles, all are highly valued, enthusiastic and committed.

The plant ethos is customer based. Leiper says. The staff all take a pride in what they do and in being empowered to do it.

This ethos and enthusiasm is part of the Apparelmaster philosophy but while all the plants represent one company with one ethos and one culture that makes sure that people feel equipped to deal with their jobs, Leiper says a degree of independence is essential.

Any business has to strike a balance between centralism and anarchy.

At Logix Park people know that they can make an independent decision when they need to do so.

Development is continual. Leiper says he’s been with Johnsons Apparelmaster for eighteen years but in the last seven, he’s seen a massive drive to customer service.

The Logix Park site has a dedicated customer service department which is proactive in its approach and is an extremely important part of the operation.

Leiper explains: “We work in a way that ensures that our customers receive regular attention. A computerised system generates the frequency of customer visits. If required these can be tweaked to suit the customer and in addition to scheduled visits, the service team will make ad hoc visits.”

Customers get a personal level of care. Each customer has a dedicated rep and a dedicated member of the customer service team. This ensures continuity during day-to-day contact.

All calls go through the customer service department and each is recorded on a computer system. The department keeps a log for each enquiry and this is kept open until the customer is satisfied.

The department’s database keeps full information about each customer including the number of wearers, the number of garments and the dates when garments are sent in for laundering and when they are returned.

The level of service is subject to regular scrutiny. A weekly meeting, which includes representatives from the shop floor, looks at reports. A monthly analysis goes into greater depth particularly in any areas that are causing specific problems.

The department conducts regular surveys. These include a quarterly survey of new customers, and a yearly survey of 20 existing customers who are chosen at random each year. All information is fed both to other plants and to head office.

Staff are fully supported both in their work and if necessary on a personal level. In addition to a huge amount of internal training, the plant also invests in external training.

This again reflects the Johnsons Apparelmaster philosophy. In addition to having a good record on keeping customers, Apparelmaster also attracts a high degree of staff loyalty. One employee who retired from Logix Park last year had been with the company for 30 years.