Once again, the festive season is upon us and as we prepare to welcome 2022, I would like to share some thoughts with you and to extend my heartfelt good wishes to you and your family.
Our journey never stops, and 2021 was another remarkable period for UES. Not only did we mark our 117th year in business but it was also the 2nd consecutive year where our teams across the globe successfully navigated the most challenging social and commercial environment of our generation, a year when we moved to a fully integrated IT system, it was when our custom designed and manufactured marine seating was launched into public use on New Yorks famed Staten Island Ferry system and a year where we strengthened our executive leadership as we boldly strive to professionalise the UES Group.
The individual achievements of our people throughout the year fill me with enormous pride and confidence, making my task of taking the company to the world all the more enjoyable. In October, I was able to represent the company overseas for the first time in almost two years. Whilst the world has changed due to the pandemic, the enthusiasm and support for our products, solutions and people have not and UES was warmly welcomed over an intensive 6-week trip throughout the United States. Next year will see us continue our return to the international stage, with planned trips to Europe, Asia and the USA.
On behalf of the Morcos family, I would like to thank you for your continued support of UES and wish you the very best for good health and an abundance of happiness. I look forward to exchanging ideas with you and encourage you to share your thoughts with me on how we can be even better next year.
Heres to great things in 2022.
Dear UES Team
Although I have only been your CEO since June, I already feel like part of the UES family. You have all been so welcoming and open and I have really appreciated your willingness to share your ideas and feedback, and consider new approaches too.
Ive made some important new appointments and I am really pleased with the way our whole team is gelling, with the newcomers and the business veterans all having much to offer.
My job is not to tell you how to do your job – its to give you the systems and tools that will let you get on with what you do best. I am delighted by the positive reception I have had from everyone I have met.
I must acknowledge the critical role of Alex Morcos, who is an inspiring leader of this business. The commitment, passion and investment of the Morcos family to grow the company is a crucial part of the transformation journey. Without that support, we could not dare to dream of the opportunities that await us. A lot has gone on and is going on, but Ill call out three key areas of substantial transformation: Operations, Marketing and IT Services.
So, in more specific terms, what comprises our transformation journey and where are we at in that process? We started with a top-down strategic review, to highlight some areas we needing urgent attention and with that, the appointment of some key senior personnel and a shuffling of other executive roles. The creation of the COO role and appointment of Nelson Ostler came first to put specific attention on optimising our supply chain, operations and demand planning, procurement, engineering services, logistics and warehousing . This was all about making sure we could do one simple thing really well: Keep our Customer Promises. That means having the right stock, in the right place at the right time and under terms and conditions that are profitable to UES. Sounds simple in principle, but given the complexity of the UES business, quite challenging in practice. In the past few months we have seen the introduction of essential sales and operations planning systems and processes to help us make sure we have laser like focus on building our stock position on our most profitable and high turnover items. Given global supply chains have slowed dramatically in the past six months, it will take a little longer until we get completely on top of this gap, but I expect in early 2022 we will be bursting at the seams with the products that our customers need most (or as we call them, our Priority One items). From there we can methodically work through the rest of our product categories and automate our demand planning and forecasting to get the best balance of service level across all SKUs.
Secondly, we appointed a Group Marketing Manager, Ben Petersen, to build our strategic marketing, product management and marketing communications capabilities to exploit the excellent product story and reputation UES has built over a century. This effort has begun with our Bunnings relationship and Goliath brands as a priority, but has now included our UES Hardware and UES Furniture and Seating divisions.
A New Product Development process has been implemented to properly support the UES Marine business and provid better responsiveness to our market building activities, led by Wendy Lawrence as General Manager UES Furniture and Zackery Reed, our International Business Development representative. This process is also being extended to support UES Hardware and Alex Zanda furniture conceptual design and product development. On the subject of Alex Zanda, we have relaunched the Alex Zanda furniture brand with a refreshed website and social media campaign and perhaps most significantly, our first eCommerce (online shop) capability and we have already sold our first chair online! Now this pilot has gone live, this online eCommerce capability will be extended to UES Hardware in 2022 and open up an exciting new channel for ANZ customers and allow us to develop our UES hardware capabilities in the USA and elsewhere.
Thirdly, we have outsourced our IT services and web support to 3rd Mill IT Services. This shift has been quite painful but the worst is behind us with 3rd Mill taking over as our UES IT Service provider from late November. In 3rd Mill, we now have a partner in our IT and web enablement journey, who shares our vision and aspirations.
Theres more I could say and much of it will be shared over the coming months. Suffice to say, we are only at the beginning of this change process and while there have been a few bumps, I couldnt be prouder of the combined efforts of the UES family in rising to the challenge. I cant wait to see the results of these efforts throughout 2022 and beyond. For now, everyone please enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday season and come back to us refreshed and ready to go in the New Year.
2021 is almost done and dusted and the sales team can take a well-earned Christmas break. Their efforts have again resulted in a significant increase in UES Hardware sales as well as improved margins over 2020. The extraordinary events that were faced during the period have been well documented and its a credit to all involved to overcome the shutdowns, restrictions, and interruptions that have become common place during the Covid pandemic.
We would normally be reflecting on the exhibitions we have taken part in or visited and the sales conferences and training meetings we have attended. None of these have been possible, but we have still found new ways to regularly communicate and service customers to the high standard they have come to expect from UES.
We are now looking forward to getting back to some form of normality in 2022 – doing many of the things that have proven successful in the past and utilising what we have learnt over the last two years.
From L to R: Steven Glagau, Kim Dinh, Robert Henderson, Damien Arvidson, David Payne, Michael Borsellino & George Tullock
From L to R: Scott Mackay, Kim Huynh, Ying Lin, Dinh khoa Nquyen, Sofia Nguyen, Micheal Burrell, Matthew Bartlett, Jason Wan, Tina Huang & Ning Ding
From L to R: Nick McDonald, Max Cottier & Sharan Belavangala
Looking back on 2021 we continued to operate under challenging conditions and restrictions related to Covid. Our UES teams have been extremely flexible and accommodating in adapting to meet the rules of each state, remaining focused on servicing the needs of our customers. Being new to UES, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how sensible our staff are in dealing with Covid, contrary to my previous experience with other businesses.
Migration of computer systems was the dominant theme across operations throughout the year, with the most significant change being the transition from Great Plains to Pronto. The rollout has not been without a few bumps along the way, but we are now in a position to leverage Pronto’s functionality to drive significant improvement across our business processes. As we were coming to terms with Pronto, we had time for a quick breath before we commenced migrating from Citrix to predominantly cloud based business via SharePoint and Office 365. These new systems will enable us to be more collaborative and productive across all our teams through real-time sharing of information and data. As we head into 2022 our new systems will help eliminate time spent on emails and searching for information so we can instead be working with our customers to help them achieve their goals.
The later part of 2021 has been quite busy as we introduced sales and operation planning to our UES teams. Every week key people across Australia and New Zealand meet to review what the future demand for our key items looks like. We then align the purchasing activity to ensure we have product arriving in time to meet that demand. After several iterations of the process, we are now producing purchasing plans that will see our service levels improve as we increase stock holdings of our key products. Stock levels will continue to improve in Q1, 2022 and should be quite healthy by the end of March. The sales and operations planning discipline will continue to be a key focus during 2022 as we strive to deliver exceptional service to our customers.
In September, the St Marys team was introduced to visual boards and the practice of daily stand-up meetings. Each morning the team meets to discuss how they performed the day before against their target metrics. If they didn’t meet their targets, they quickly discuss what prevented success and record any actions they need to take. This daily discipline is driving continuous improvement and keeping the teams well informed as to what is important daily, to succeed across their key measures on safety, quality, people, delivery and cost. It’s been really pleasing to see the St Marys teams embrace the daily meetings and more pleasing to see them share the responsibility of chairing the meetings. Next year we will look to implement similar visual boards for our branch teams.
2021 has seen the introduction of new people to the business and existing staff taking on new roles to help balance workload and align roles with the changing needs of the business. We have two new engineers, Max and Nick, who have joined Sharan in the engineering team which is now based at St Marys. The team has been working on several projects including new product offers in the automotive and outdoor seating space, as well as supporting our sales teams secure business in the marine seating and furniture space. The team is working well together and 2022 will be an exciting year for product design and development.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone at UES for their warm welcome and assistance as I settled in to the business. I’ve appreciated everyone’s engagement and willingness to embrace the continuous improvement that will help drive greater opportunities in 2022 and beyond.
Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable Christmas
What a remarkable year it has been! All UES staff should be applauded for how quickly they adapted to changes in our working style. As one united team we successfully accomplished smooth business practices during this difficult year and kept the business running whilst in lockdown.
As the pandemic hit and lockdowns were enforced, it was a challenging period for all employees. As a company we managed to enable all staff to fulfill their duties remotely, efficiently, and effectively. Working remotely was something new for UES but I think it proved to be successful.
In 2022, we plan to increase staff engagement. We want to get closer to our team by listening to them and exchanging ideas that bring growth and success to UES and our staff.
Reflecting on 2021…
The year started with deliveries to European customers for LuxForm recliner lounge seating on the state of the art Eflexor vessels for Stena and DFDS. This was followed by deliveries in the US to new and existing customers, including Staten Island Ferry #3 and the Switch Maritime vessel “Sea Change” built for the Hornblower Group. Proudly, these went on to be chosen in the Top 10 Significant Vessels in 2021.
We are proud to be chosen to provide seating on these new State of the Art vessels, continuing our commitment to providing bespoke solutions in furniture and seating for the “Ferries of the Future”.
Sadly, our customers were hit hard by the Covid pandemic. Projects have been put on hold until the ridership returns to previous levels and availability of funds to continue with scheduled refits and new builds.
However, our pipeline looks promising with many opportunities for UES Marine and we hope by 2023 we will see a return to previous busy manufacturing at both our facilities.
Our teams have continued to stay busy, with installation of seating on Staten Island Ferry “Sandy Ground” in May, where they got to enjoy the beautiful Florida sunshine and caught some impressive fish.
We moved from Whidbey Island to Everett. where our new facility is better suited to our manufacturing and growth into the furniture sector.
This led to the biggest announcement and most exciting change for 2021 – UES Seating became UES Marine to encompass all we do in the marine space. UES Marine incorporates our solutions in flooring, furniture and panelling, in addition to our marine hardware solutions.
Thankfully we were able to obtain a travel exemption which allowed Alex to be able to deliver this exciting news in person in the USA, and by video at Interferry Santander Spain.
Six weeks of much needed face-to-face time with our US customers concluded with our sponsorship of the first tour of the “Michael Ollis“ Staten Island Ferry at Marine Log NJ. Seeing this project come to conclusion, with delivery to NYCDOT of the Iconic vessel honouring a fallen hero, was an emotional time for all who have worked on this project for almost 7 years.
As the holidays approach and we reflect on the past year there are two words that sum it up: Gratitude and Hope.
GRATITUDE – we are grateful to have come through what has been a challenging year… together., and
HOPE – that the new year sees improvement for all across the globe.
Wishing you all safe and happy holidays.
From L to R: Max Lemay, Roberto Corona, Josh Bayne & Chad Formhals
What an amazing business to join! Although Ive only been in your lives for 3 months, without any hesitation it feels so much longer. Its like joining a new family and in that context, allow me to share my experience so far as a new family member.
Alex feels a little like my big brother. A much more seasoned campaigner, getting access to all areas (probably with his fake ID) and someone I look up to and respect. Im sure his room is a mess most of the time and whenever he and I get up to something we shouldnt, hes my defender in front of Mum and Dad.
Enter Matt and Nelson. The mother and father figures gently bringing me back in line when I seem to go off the rails a little. They always make sure I use my manners, take my dishes to the sink and walk out of the house in clean clothes. They seem to know whats best and speak with wisdom and experience – even if they dont understand (like any parent) – and I will always claim to know more than they do!
My big sis, Wendy, is who I turn to for advice that I know will work. She knows me well, understands what Im trying to achieve and gives me a really great push along. We dont like the same music at all which is frustrating – how many times can one person listen to the Spice Girls? Im positive when I get a little older Wendy will continue to steer me out of trouble (or is that into trouble?)
Uncle Pete (Criddle) comes next. A cracker on the BBQ (although nobody is brave enough to tell him he burns everything). He has an uncanny sense of knowing everything, and its probably because he is very worldly in this family. Often the only one able to add context and explanation to unusual situations, Uncle Pete seems to know just about everything.
Then theres my cousins – Colin B, David C, Colin S, Claude L, Shaun E and Zack R. We spend most of the time getting away with whatever we can. Which is usually looking absolutely brilliant with the least amount of work. We are a merry band of brothers and always look out for each other. I look forward to us all getting together and getting up to mischief away from the adults!
On a more genuine note, my short time at UES has been nothing short of brilliant. You have all let me in, opened your minds, shared your time with me and hitched your wagon to mine for whats about to come. And for that I cant be more grateful.
For those not mentioned, I still see you and I cant wait to find out how I can help you in any way I can.
From a deliverables aspect, weve spent quite some time defining what our brand strategy is, how we connect this to customers (that is, what we say) and what communication tools we use. Getting this right is fundamental to everything we say and do around our brands, and the products that hang off our brands. As a result the amount of material weve published has been significantly less than normal as we work to get this right.
The new year should bring with it additional horsepower in the marketing, communications and product management spaces to again free up the UES sales resource to focus on selling.
With lots of work still to do I have no doubt that we are on track to make everyones lives (and successes) at UES so much easier, and delighting customers far and wide along the way.
Merry Christmas to all!
2021 has been a strange year for everyone. The Northern Territory has largely avoided the hardships of prolonged lockdowns felt in other states but Covid has still had an impact.
Supply problems have made life difficult for everyone, but Territorians are a resourceful lot and we found that with a bit of creative thinking we were able to supply alternatives from our range. We also found that with good teamwork from other branches and taking the time to explain the issues causing the problems, we were able to keep a lot of customers supplied.
An unexpected side effect of the Covid crisis is that our customers who build ute trays, canopies and camping trailers are busier than they have ever been.
The big event for us in 2021 was relocating to Yarrawonga. We are still very close to the Stuart Highway (the main road into Darwin) and only 10 minutes from the previous location but its a newer, brighter building that is in the heart of the growth area for Darwin. We achieved the re-location with very little disruption and we have had mostly positive feedback from our customers.
We have a new member in the team, Nathan Trezise. Nathan has a wealth of experience in the trailer building industry as well as wholesale and retail.
Next year we hope to see a lot more tourists return to the Territory and look forward to supplying them with more of their needs for their RVs, trailers and boats.
We would like to thank all of our colleagues in UES who have helped us by supplying stock when we got desperate! Particular thanks to David Chand, Colin Bently, Mark Eshmade and Clayton Evelyn who had a lot of direct input into some of the issues that confronted us this year.
From L to R: David Linney, Colin Bentley , Shaun Carter, Sharon Lines, Darren Jackson, Tom Cooney & Paul Aby
Hi all, Seasons greetings.
2021 has been a steady year for the WA branch where we have had to meet some challenges head on – sometimes not to our advantage. Where these situations arose it also showed the character of our staff which was largely excellent.
As we live in the “Hermit Kingdom” the economy has been in very good shape with Iron Ore hitting an all time sales record of over $230 US/tonne. This has resulted in strong sales of 4×4 and truck bodies servicing the mining industry as they replace fleet and equipment. The added effect has been the inability of West Australians to travel and this saw unprecedented levels of outer metro and country hotels, resorts, caravan and camping sites being booked out – sometimes 18 months to 2 years in advance. The amount of money spent in the state due to lockdown is incredible and is driving up prices of used vehicles, caravans and camper vans. The 4-wheel drive marketand other recreational vehicles and associated fit outs has seen many of our customers booked out for months in advance.
Covid, what Covid?
WA has enjoyed a relatively Covid-free existence these past 18 months with only 2 partial lock downs since early last year. We have been lucky, no doubt, with only small outbreaks and the good work of the Government, health professionals and the community keeping Covid out of WA. Hopefully in the new year the restrictions will be eased, and life will get back to some sort of normality.
Our Unsung hero. David Linney.David has been outstanding this year. Last July he put his hand up to run the warehouse and is doing a great job. It is good to see staff making a difference and wanting to be an active part of the solution.
The team is looking forward to 2022 as we head towards the break. Wow, where did 2021 go?
Now that we have gotten comfortable with how Pronto works in its current format, we can now focus on customer service levels increasing and communication with our customers improving.
We have two new team Members, Shaun Carter in Internal Sales and Darren Jackson in Warehousing. They are both making a great contribution to the branch. Not forgetting Tom Cooney, Paul Aby and Sharon Lines who continue to strive forward daily. Its good to see staff working together as the morale and attitude has lifted considerably in recent times.
While this may embarrass him somewhat, without a shadow of a doubt Tom Cooney makes the best cup of coffee in the branch. I never knew Tom was/is a barista so if any of you get the chance, hit him up for a cuppa, he will not disappoint!
In closing, thanks to all the staff at UES for their help and guidance throughout the challenging year that was 2021. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that the WA teams deals with daily across the country regarding stock supply and other issues. Special thanks to Clayton for his continued support and guidance through the transition and beyond.
A thank you to all our customers for their support patienceand understanding of the Covid challenges we have, and continue to face, in relation to logistic delays and stock procurement.
I am especially looking forward to the contribution of our new CEO, Matt Roughan, Nelson Ostler as our Chief Operations Officer and Ben Petersen in Marketing.
So, from the WA Team to Alex and his family, to all at UES and their families, take care this Christmas and I look forward to dealing with you and heaven forbid, if the walls come down in WA, meeting some of you and renewing old acquaintances again in 2022.
Well, here we are, approaching the end of an extremely challenging year. The old Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” rings true for just about everyone and on many levels, especially this year.
I commend my team for banding together and positively contributing to the rollout of our new ERP system in April. They showed great aptitude in overcoming initial navigational challenges in the new system, rolling out new SKUs in the warehouse and above all making sure every team member was at the same pace with all the progress and changes.
Thanks to Mark and Micky for new bin and bay labels – it has made a big difference to our order pick team, Marquis for taking charge of despatch and IFS. Steve, Johnny and Mark for mastering the cash draw and banking in Pronto. Hats off to Johnny and Mark Eshmade for looking after our regional customers. Those Slim Dusty cassettes are great entertainment on long road trips to Ceduna, Alice Springs, Broken Hill, Mildura and Mt Gambier I guess! A big thank you to Mark Eshmade and Colin Bentley for calling in to our remote, but equally important, customers in Alice Springs, Darwin and Kununurra respectively.
Special mention goes to Heinz and Chris, who are on final years of their seniors internship! We appreciate your invaluable knowledge and contribution over the years. We also welcome Keith back into our sales team after a couple of years sabbatical. We look forward to his contribution in growing our sales and customer service levels.
Our sincere thanks to all our customers. We appreciate your loyalty and patience. Your partnership has seen us overcome new supply challenges with unprecedented levels of demand – literally hampered by slow boats! The new demand trend saw customers securing supplies with forward schedules and BOMs up to 6 months in advance. At times, we just couldnt keep up with supplies for toolboxes, draw slides, gas struts and water tanks. Thanks to our Procurement Team for rising up to the new challenges and securing our supply lines. With the new measures in place hopefully 2022 will see regular and consistent availability with minimum supply interruptions.
On special projects, we have been working with SA Water helping them with special rubber applications. Johnny is working closely with their engineers to solve leakage issues with various valves and dovetail seals. This involved visits to various sites, tooling, testing, product demo and installation. We look forward to working with them on many more upcoming projects.
Finally, thanks to all our customers, my team, all branches and management for your support in another successful year. We look forward to your continued support next year. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
From L to R: David Chand, Marquis Meyn, Steve Eaton, Johnny Bianco, Mark Eshmade, Chris Bickle, Mark Dinys, Simon Allen & Keith Robinson
Absent: Heinz Czora & Micheal Tatrai
From L to R: Troy Druzynski & Eric Thompson
2021 started off with a bang with the Back to Work promotion for 2021 for the Victoria branch.
This was an outstanding success which included some of our best-selling products including toolboxes, ladders, drop tee locks, lashing rings, spring bolts and rubber pinchweld to name a few.
The year did present some challenges for the branch with long serving members Paul and Simon White announcing their retirement. Adrian Hollis and Han Cui received long term service awards for the milestone of 10 years of service.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit us again with new safety practices and processes introduced to enable us to keep supplying the local market with parts and components.
The introduction of the Pronto computer system in April introduced a new and improved way of processing orders and customer transactions. Our staff grasped the opportunity to learn new modules to enable them to deal with daily challenges in a more efficient manner. One of the main advantages that was evident from the get-go, was the efficient way in which orders were being processed for dispatch.
New members to join the team in Melbourne are Ben Petersen as Group Marketing Manager and Troy Druzynski as Customer Service Representative. We look forward to building upon the teams strengths in 2022 with more new and exciting products and programs in the pipeline.
We wish to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal customers for their support in 2021.
The team at Wetherill Park has achieved monthly figures and beyond, and even though we were in a hotspot LGA we still managed to provide for our customers throughout the lockdown.
The team went above and beyond for our customers to get stock, and whether we had to source it from interstate or overseas we still overcame the difficulties.
Our unsung hero at Wetherill Park was….everyone! Every single member of the team was committed to maintaining good relationships with customers to meet their needs in tough circumstances.
Stock availability has been the main challenge and resolving supply chain issues will be our main focus into the new year. We know that its important to our customers that we can get them the right product in the right timeframe, including keeping many SKUs in stock. Being able to meet those customer expectations is what we care most about. We are looking forward to be receiving our own containers here at WP, so we can service our customers quicker and also have more stock available for them to purchase.
Weve had plenty to be proud of but one achievement I want to especially call out.
We have a smaller warehouse than many of the other branches, but we still managed to dispatch 18 pallets and a total of 30-plus toolboxes in a single day. It was a great achievement for my team. A huge effort that deserves congratulations!
Throughout lockdown, we noticed there was a big demand for toolboxes and water tanks. Customers had more time on their hands during lockdown to finish their personal projects. We also saw plenty of customers using the time as an opportunity to make some upgrades to their utes and other vehicles, as well as heading off in their caravans to travel within Australia while overseas travel was off the cards
From L to R: Sipha Sar, Natalie Bowdler, Claude Laba, Leming Abraham, Tony Yendle, Murat Sahin, Raymond McIlhoney & Shahid Durrani.
The integration of Pronto has meant some huge changes for the team this year, and while they found it challenging to start with, theyve all become quite proficient are are starting to notice some real benefits. The team managed to have its biggest FY on record reaching the $7.5M mark and this year were on track to exceed $8M.
Covid hasnt been a real challenge for our branch compared with NSW and VIC. Our biggest challenge due to Covid was stock shortages, created by lockdowns overseas which increased lead times with further shipping delays.
Next year we are looking to be more involved with trade shows and focussing more on the seating side of the business, which were starting to see grow and adding an additional revenue stream to the branch. Theres an emphasis on our branch account managers to ensure that were managing our large key accounts appropriately to ensure they continue to trade with UES and we can grow with their business.
Most of the staff at the Brisbane branch have worked together between 8-20 years and theres quite often a good bit of banter in the office. Throughout the year, tthe team has just continued to be honest and assisted in finding alternative products where necessary.
Our demand has certainly increased, and we saw some customers trying to panic buy our products in case we had shortages. Weve had to control this to ensure that we could look after our entire customer base.
The whole vehicle body building industry has really taken off, in particular the canopy builders. They all seem to have a huge amount of forward orders exceeding six plus months, some out as far as 12 months.
Overall, its been a very positive year, and we wish everyone a happy and safe festive season.