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Racking Expertise: Steve Wickens interview

As head of one of the leading heavy duty racking manufacturers in the UK, we spoke to Steve Wickens, managing director at Wickens Engineering about being a market leader in a busy warehousing environment.

Wickens Engineering was founded by Steve’s father, Bob Wickens in 1978 and now employs almost fifty loyal and highly skilled staff and have supplied around twenty thousand cantilever racking orders along with a similar number of bespoke storage solutions over the last 40 years.

“We pride ourselves on supplying high-quality products supported by first class customer service,” says Steve. “In turn, this means that we have frequent repeat orders from customers, many of whom have traded with us for a very long time. As a customer focused business, this company-wide culture ensures the very best experience for our customers from initial enquiry through to installation, thus removing the worry element from the important investment they are making.”

“You must first understand what the customer needs – not what we are going to sell, says Steve. “Asking the right questions and developing a solution that works for the customer is our priority. Once we understand the requirements, we can then complete a structural design and propose a solution. Often the costing stage is at the tail end of the process, when we are sure that the customer is getting the racking design that works best for them.

“A reliable storage system’s design is based on structural calculations to ensure that the system is robust and suitable for the application. The quality then depends on the manufacturing processes and control systems, as well as the quality of steel and the finish employed. At Wickens, racking safety is paramount and with the product, quality is unquestionably a key to our business.”

“Key aspects to be considered when storing timber include ease of access to ensure good stock rotation; robust storage systems to prevent handling damage; packs of timber are well supported and at the correct centres to prevent warping; prevention of sun damage or discoloration; prevention of water damage.”

Cantilever racking and rack clad buildings are ideal for timber products – for the how do these different types of systems operate? “Cantilever racking is an open-fronted system, which is ideal for the storage of long and heavy timber packs. As there are no upright sections restricting access at the front, cantilever racks allow storage capacity to be maximised as packs of various lengths can be stored side by side. Adding a roof canopy offers some protection from both sun and rain, but this is limited unless full cover is given.

“A rack clad building is a fully-enclosed storage building where the racking uprights form the structural frame of the building. The uprights support the roof structure which can be fitted with rainwater goods. Purlins and conventional cladding are fitted on all sides, along with roller shutter doors and pedestrian access to form an enclosed structure.”

As we start a new year, what market/business developments and changes does Wickens have in the pipeline for the coming year? “We are looking forward to 2022 with a great deal of optimism,” says Steven. “There are a lot of improvement projects planned for the coming year and we are continuing to invest in our product development, machinery, facilities and, of course, our staff. All these improvements will help us to manufacture our products more efficiently and refine our processes to offer improved customer service at all stages of a project. Our focus is always on ensuring our customers find us easy and enjoyable to deal with. We do believe that the future is bright, and we would like to positively contribute to the success of other UK businesses, so we are all focused on working hard to make it happen.”

You can read the full feature in the Winter Timber Trader UK magazine

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