From its small beginnings founded in 1999 as a sub-brand of the Peters & May Group, Corporate Express Couriers continues to grow, celebrating its 20th Anniversary later this month. We caught up with Madeline Symons and Karen Harding as part of CEC’s growing team to discuss changes, interesting shipments and plans for the future!
So, 20 whole years – what’s changed in that time?
‘If you look back at where we were 20 years ago as a business and who we are now, it’s almost unrecognisable! Everything was manual when we started with handwritten manifests and delivery documents. All bookings were done over the phone, with no website, scanning or online booking system available! Offices were spread out, one in Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and of course Eastleigh. In 2005/06 there was big change within the business.
We joined the company from TNT, developing CEC by adding a website and online booking facility. This new technology enabled us to operate the business from 1 hub in Eastleigh, whilst maintaining the personal service we became renowned for. This year, was another milestone for CEC, upgrading our IT system we now offer customers real time data and status notifications on their deliveries. With so much progress over the last few decades, it just makes you wonder doesn’t it… where will we be in another 20 years’ time?!’
Tell us about your most interesting consignments?
‘Oh, we have done all sorts! Some of which we can’t disclose at the time of shipment. We transported the red carpet for The Queen for her Diamond Jubilee. We also have been involved in some of the logistics for various Olympics. We flew cameras around the world following the Olympic torches. In addition to that we have transported Olympic medals to Portland, Australia.
On the other side of the business, we are closely tied with Marine logistics; shipping parts for the Racing Yacht Maiden Factor to the Greenwich Maritime Museum. Having worked closely with Peters & May’s Racing Yacht Transport team for years we have a fundamental understanding of critical deadline and required clearances in destinations worldwide shipping anything from time sensitive marine parts for races to last minute clothing for teams’.
How have your relationships with agents developed over time?
‘To be honest we still use the same agents that we used 20 years back. We have developed such a good relationship with them and know we can rely on them to help with consignments across the globe! We have of course grown our agent network but with such pride in our business we have had to let a few agents go if our high service levels cannot be met’.
What’s your most ‘shipped to country’?
‘Oh, that’s a tricky one… It can be seasonal, for example we get a lot of consignment to the Caribbean when racing season starts out there. Similarly, around April and May, Palma is a popular destination ahead of the start of the Mediterranean racing calendar.
I would definitely say a consistent destination is India. This is popular for the shipping of documents, supplying the appropriate paperwork to allow individuals to work at sea. This is peoples livelihood’s in our hands, so as a trusted courier we of course take huge pride in these shipments’.
You have both been here 15 years, do you have any highlights?
‘I think we both have a huge level of pride in our work and a passion for what we do. Coming from TNT, it’s a great feeling to see how we have really brought CEC to the forefront of courier technology with real-time data always available to customers, drivers and staff back in the office. On that note, we are pleased to be growing the team and our fleet of vans, having increased our capacity from 15,000 consignments in 2005 to 45,000 a year in 2019.
With change like this, often comes a loss of the personal touch. Not at CEC. We are passionate about developing relationships with customers. You will often find us having a chat to our customers over the phone on a professional but also personal level! it’s just part of what CEC is’.
What do you see for the future?
‘We are in a great position at the moment, the future is really exciting! Having upgraded all our IT systems this year, we are prepared for BREXIT when it comes aiming for paperless trade. Watch this space...’.