Documents have been our Business for 20 Years
It’s hard to believe that Box-it Central is celebrating a 20 year anniversary this month. We caught up with brothers and fellow directors, Les and Emlyn Evans, the driving force behind our document management business and our ongoing success story; a story that was born out of re-purposing some disused sheds on the Evans family farm.
When we talk of disused farm sheds being the basis for today’s dynamic document management business, we are not exaggerating. The year was 1997, and the Evans were having a rethink about the future of their family farm at Squab Hall, near Bishops Tachbrook in the heart of Warwickshire.
“I believe the saying is ‘necessity is the mother of invention’,” explains Les, the eldest of the two brothers and founder of Box-it Central. “We, as a family, were under financial pressure from the bank having suffered with milk quotas and Edwina Currie’s comments about eggs. We decided to leave both these industries, which left us with spare sheds making the idea of a storage business possible.”
Les had been contemplating the concept of document storage for a few months, when he spotted an advertisement in a national agricultural magazine to become a Box-it franchise business for the Central (Midlands) area.
“It seemed to be the perfect opportunity and just what we were looking for at the time,” says Les. “The advantage of the franchise business model, is that there is considerable ‘hand holding’ especially in the early stages. There was no doubt that there was some substantial preparation work to be carried out but we weren’t daunted. We adapted an existing vehicle, and used a small trailer or hired vehicles for larger collections. The storage sheds also needed to be prepared to meet the required security standards too.”
At the time, it was just Les in the business because younger brother Emlyn was still studying. Les recruited a salesperson to act as a ‘frontman’ for the business which then, just offered document storage services and sales of flatpack boxes. While the salesperson covered all aspects of administration and paperwork, it was down to Les to make the collections and deliveries to clients, splitting his time between Box-it Central and Squab Hall Farm.
It didn’t take long for the Box-it Central business to take off. By the end of the first year of trading, some 10,000 boxes had already been checked into storage, virtually filling one entire shed.
There proved to be a real demand for a reliable document storage service in the area and gradually, as the business evolved, additional services were introduced. The installation of a shredder in 2001 was pivotal to business growth. It meant that Box-it Central could offer a complete document lifecycle solution, right through to document destruction. A cataloguing service was also offered where unmarked or unmanaged files would be sorted and itemised for clients before being placed into storage.
Box-it Central grew very quickly in the years that followed. Services were provided to clients in Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and parts of the West Midlands as they are today. It wasn’t long before the magical 100,000 box milestone had been achieved, making Box-it Central the fastest growing Box-it franchise at the time. “I think visitors were always impressed by the high standards of our facilities, and possibly a little surprised given our farming origin! From the outset, we have always ensured that our warehouses are very tidy, clean and secure. And, they are of course even smarter today, and benefit from being humidity-controlled with all the latest security devices. The whole site is monitored 24/7 by CCTV with security barrier access.”
The demand for secure document shredding was gaining momentum too, a precursor to the launch of a mobile shredding service which is available to clients today for onsite document destruction.
Meanwhile rewind 10 years and younger brother, Emlyn had joined Les and his team in the business. At the time, there were approximately seven people employed by Box-it Central. Emlyn’s time was divided between Box-it and a new removals and storage business, which today forms part of the family’s Squab Group of companies.
“I had been based at Dyson appliances on their graduate scheme, and decided to come back to the family business,” explains Emlyn. “Much like Les, my initial years at Box-it Central were all about early starts and covering lots of miles delivering boxes. We were very hands-on! We also got involved with day-to-day warehouse operations. Over time, I was able to help develop some of the systems and processes, helping to shape the services the business now offers with the shredding, and most recently, document scanning and digital storage.”
Of course, the document storage business has changed rapidly with the times. “Technology has played a key role in the way our business has expanded, and in the services that we offer,” says Les. “Looking back, barcoding and GPS tracking technology are good examples. Technology has transformed the world of archive storage, with less chance of human error, full traceability and better efficiencies, and it has also paved the way for a more individual, customised service. It’s not just been about physical storage either. The emergence of electronic storage and retrieval has, and is, hugely influential to our service offering, both now and in the future.”
Today, Box-it Central stores circa 200,000 boxes and offers a comprehensive range of physical, digital and integrated document management services to a client base within both the private and public sector.
When asked about the secret to the ongoing success of Box-it Central, both brothers are quick to say, “quality of service, reliability and a dedicated, hard-working team”. Les expands on this by adding: “When a client is up against it, they need a supplier they can rely on, however challenging the job. We consistently go that extra mile to offer a very high quality, flexible, value-for-money service. We are never complacent, and are always questioning methods of others to evaluate whether it can be done better.”
And what does the future hold? “Hopefully, onwards and upwards. Physical storage will inevitably decline one day as companies move towards paperless practices but it’s not happening as fast as forecast. And of course, through Omnidox, we already have many solutions for digital storage, with something for all sizes of businesses. One thing is for sure, we’ll always keep an eye out for new opportunities. I think it’s time to dust off that crystal ball,” laughs Les.
Here’s to the next 20 years of excellence in document management.
If you would like to know more about the services offered by Box-it Central, please get in touch.