“Being the biggest is not the main criteria,” says Gary White, Severnside Fabrics’s UK sales director. “It’s the quality, staying power and how you perform that matters. We have to offer customers the best: the best top quality products, the best service and the best technical support. All in all, the best package.”

This starts with manufacturing. The company uses the best fibres and yarns available and has invested in the latest computerised machinery capable of producing consistent top-quality needlefelts. Spearheading the company is Bristol-based Severnside Fabrics (UK), European Laundry Products (France), American Laundry Products (USA), Andrew Laundry Supply (Ireland), Triple M Andrew (South Africa) and Filterfab (Australia and New Zealand).

Ongoing research and development is crucial to stay in pole position. This applies across the product range. As an example, a new range of calender guide tapes has just been developed and will be launched in the near future.

The company is also working on several other exciting developments, which it believes will yet again demonstrate its commitment to the laundry industry and further enhance its status.

Needlefelts and guide tapes are an integral part of a calender. By working closely with machine manufacturers main agents and laundries, the overall performance, quality and production requirements of a calender can be greatly improved by recommending the right combination.

Dedication and commitment

As important as it is to have manufacturing expertise and R&D resources, this is only part of the equation. The company strongly believes in the philosophy of investing in people. Having the right people who are dedicated, committed and care is essential. At the end of the day it is a team effort, from the receptionist to the warehouse personnel to the sewing room staff to the technical representatives to the managing director that make a company stand out.

Joanne Tucker on reception has a very bubbly personality. She has a great rapport with customers and is on first name terms with most of them. She deals with the everyday telephone enquiries and orders. Customer files and product history can be accessed at the push of a button.

Lee Parker is her co-worker who also deals with taking and entering orders. He has come through the ranks in the warehouse, and his product knowledge is excellent. He is an experienced member of the fittings team.

A brief insight

Urmila Bakrania is purchasing, export and sewn products manager. Her multi-tasked position is matched only by the commitment and all-round skills that she demonstrates for Severnside Fabrics.

Another key member of the internal team is Steve Warfield, warehouse production manager. His job is to collate and dispatch all completed orders, oversee the cutting of needlefelts and feeder/folder banding to the correct size, including the frequently requested made-to-measure belting fitted with clips. With years of experience, he also heads the supply and fittings team for the specialised Lapauw mono-turn and conventional multi-turn ironers, as well as the feeders and folders fittings service that the company offers.

Philip Husband has 30 years’ experience of selling laundry textile products and is responsible for export sales. He travels extensively supporting existing customers and creates new business through a worldwide network of distributors and agents.

In the UK the three technical sales reps are Gary White, Barry McWilliam and Barry McCool. Each have their own territory but operate as a team with a combined 109 years in laundry sales, manufacturing and practical laundry management experience. For many years the company has concentrated its efforts on providing the customer, no matter how large or small, with as much assistance as possible, backed up with good, sound technical advice. Where necessary the company assists in re-clothing ironers, carrying out ironer survey reports and recommending alternatives in order to achieve the optimum ironer performance for customers.

In January 2002, David Hartley joined the sales team. His brief was to identify the ever increasing small laundries and OPLs springing up in various market sectors across the country. His enthusiasm led to numerous enquiries and orders in a short time. Early success, however, would not have been possible without an intensive training programme. Newer inexperienced laundries and, in particular, small operations greatly appreciate assistance, guidance and a hands-on approach.

Heading Severnside Fabrics is managing director David Neary. David joined Andrew Industries Group in 1983, starting his career path at the Walshaw Road site where the laundry machine clothing, guide tapes, folder and feeder banding are manufactured.

David has held various management positions, predominantly in the production area, culminating in him becoming manufacturing director responsible for sourcing yarns and fibres and their conversion to the finished article.

To the top

David joined Severnside Fabrics as managing director on April 1 1997. During his five years at Severnside he has been part of the team which has developed the already customer-focused approach. David says: “Anybody who has been involved in this industry will tell you it is very friendly and very rewarding”.

Ongoing staff training and product knowledge is essential. One of the less known product ranges that Severnside Fabrics manufactures and stocks is most of the latest press and cabinet unit clothings. There are, however, a considerable number of older-type presses, garment/shirt units and collar machine finishing equipment still being used in laundries today. Many of the original patterns have long since vanished. With the company’s knowledge and sewing room expertise, it can tailor-make and modify clothing.

On numerous occasions Severnside Fabrics has been approached by national laundry societies, large laundry groups and other organisations to give training presentations, lectures and talks. These have been greeted with accolades, because of the depth of knowledge the company possesses. The company is happy to oblige and believes that you have to put back into the industry as much as possible.

The saying goes: “Self praise is no praise at all.” So the company decided to let some laundry general managers, owners and laundry engineers have their say.

Customers do the talking

Kevin McNally engineering manager at Bourne Textile Services says: “Bourne Textile Services have been using Severnside Fabrics for years because they fulfil the criteria that we look for in our suppliers with the emphasis on service. They are a very down-to-earth company, easy to deal with and will always pull out the stops to help in times of crisis.

“We try to schedule the supply and fit re-clothing service throughout the year on our five Lapauw Ironers. However, as we all know, accidents happen like a major jam-up that damages or splits the clothing. As with most laundries, having a calender out of commission is a production nightmare. A phone call to Severnside Fabrics is all it takes to get their expert fittings team into action.

“On several occasions they have worked right through the night to get the ironer up and running for the morning shift. Another great strength they have is their technical knowledge on calender problem detection. Just recently this was demonstrated by their technical ability in identifying a problem on an ironer that we had never encountered before.”

Brian Porteous, general manager for Hurst Linen Services of Ashton-Under Lyne says: “As our main supplier for calender and press clothing, we at the Hurst Laundry (1930) Ltd are proud of our long established trading relationship with Severnside Fabrics. Our association spans more than three decades with a company we consider to be a leader in textiles for the laundry industry, offering quality products at competitive prices. Whenever we have come across any problem and sought help from Severnside, they have always been of great assistance in helping to solve them. We look forward to many more years of trading with Severnside and wish them continued success.”

Ken Leverton, general manager for Initial Textiles at Hendon, says: “Having been a Severnside Fabrics customer for many years I can honestly say that the service is excellent and the technical backup second to none. They don’t call Gary White the Calender Doctor for nothing. His spot-on diagnosis is really just that, spot on. For supplies, assistance with calender re-clothing and technical support, Severnside Fabrics really are hard to beat”.

Chris Hancock, general manager for Sunlight Textile Services at Merton, the biggest laundry in Europe says: “Sunlight Service Group at Merton has been supplied by Severnside Fabrics with calender clothing and other sundry items over a number of years for all of our 12 ironers. More importantly, Severnside, through Gary White their UK sales director, provides us with an excellent technical backup service in the form of ironer survey reports which are carried out on a regular basis. Monitoring ironer performances and efficiencies covering steam pressures, steam traps, roller pressures, vacuum fans, air vents et cetera is important information for production managers and engineers to operate a highly productive processing plant in a competitive market.”

Joe Potter, managing director of Topfords at Grimsby, says: “As the owner of this company, I wish to make known my appreciation of the good service and technical support I have received from Severnside Fabrics. Like many who have been in the laundry industry for more years than they wish to recall, my association with Severnside extends back into the 1970s.

“Over the years, because of moves around the UK or because of other factors, I have met various representatives of Severnside. However, I have always received a steady and reliable transition, which has reinforced my wish to maintain an ongoing association with your company, whom I regard as a very important supplier. The ability to call upon your company with your expert knowledge of so many types of machines and case histories has solved many niggling problems for me. This is a feature of Severnside that I am always grateful for.

“In an era of many innovations, it is good to know that your company is so forward-thinking technically, but still retains that old fashioned expression, ‘Knows how to give good service to its customers’.”

Long relationship

Ian Hargreaves MHLM FGCL, general manager of Fylde Linen Services and who is also the national president and national treasurer of the Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers, says: “Severnside Fabrics was one of the first companies that I ever purchased from when I started my career in laundry management back in the 1970s. Many things have changed in our industry since then, but Severnside Fabrics can still be relied upon to supply quality products ‘on time’.”

David Sorsby, owner of Premier Linen in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, says: “Premier Linen has been operational for eight years and has been owned by myself for the past four years. Since opening the company I have relied exclusively on Severnside Fabrics for ironer clothing, other consumables including laundry hampers. In the past four years there has been no downtime due to problems with ironer clothing. Availability is always ex-stock, and whether using their fittings service (usually over-night) or fitting it myself, there has been no loss of production. I can honestly state that without Barry McCool, the Severnside representative, we would have experienced many and varied problems. Barry has been able to offer a vast wealth of experience to the problems encountered over the past four years and has on occasions been able to troubleshoot problems via a phone link.”

One problem found recently was tracking lines on linen due to the starch required by a customer. Due to Barry’s experience and recommendation, the company was able to overcome this immediately by change of ironer guide tape, which gave the customer the product he needed and kept tape breakages to a minimum.

Premier Linen operates at the bespoke end of the laundry service, servicing small country hotels and restaurants where quality is a major part of our service. Its reject rate of less than 1% is attributed to few finishing-end problems.

Severnside Fabrics would like to thank all of its customers for their ongoing support, especially those named in this article for their sincere testimonials. The company also apologises to the many other customers around the country whose comments, because of limited space, could not be included.

As a final word, on June 24 Severnside Fabrics received an order for needlefelt from the National Trust… to be delivered to Buckingham Palace.