Reflections on 2021: Andrew Brown

Like 2020, 2021 proved to be yet another unprecedented year.

The year started on an extremely sombre note with news of the death of our founder Jim Gray Snr. I had known Jim most of my working life, he was the boss but also a teacher and mentor. An entrepreneur and visionary, our thoughts remain with James, Peter, and Marie. Jim would, however, have been intensely proud of the business today.

For me, the brand is stronger than ever, and this is reflected in the unprecedented demand for the company’s products and services. This does not mean, however, that it is not without its challenges. Both manufacturing inflation and supply issues have exposed how vulnerable global supply chains have become. We have been working closely with our customers to manage the repercussions of this with as little impact as possible. We must say a big thank you, to all our clients for their co-operation and understanding during this period. Covid-19 also caused unnecessary delays to Fraserburgh’s expansion plans.

However, the business has made significant progress with this project and the new double deck factory is just coming online, which will see a significant increase in our production capabilities in this area. September saw the return of the TCS&D Show and the company was successful in three awards. Innovation, in partnership with Carrier Transicold for the Vector eCool, Trailer of the Year for the Sainsbury’s Vector eCool and not least, Jim Gray Snr was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was accepted by his son, Peter. I was particularly touched that the industry came together and got to their feet to applaud Jim’s legacy.

Our industry faces many challenges as we move into 2022. The journey towards a net carbon future, driver shortages and, not least, further supply chain issues. However, throughout this challenging period, Gray & Adams has proved itself fit to meet these new challenges. For example, the Vector eCool is the UK’s first fully autonomous refrigerated electric trailer solution. During the first quarter of 2022, Doncaster’s production will, for the first time, be 65% on electric refrigeration. Our Double Deck products ensure that the shrinking driver pool can carry greater loads, more efficiently and with a smaller carbon footprint. We will also assist the industry in better planning to ensure we can deliver the goods that the market requires.

Many customers, in the face of chassis shortages and long lead times, are working on a three-year replacement programme. I believe that 2022 will be as demanding as 2021. Perhaps even more so. However, if we plan ahead, communicate, collaborate and co-operate we can be assured that we will continue to succeed.

In the words of Barack Obama, “We is the most powerful word in the English language.” – If we work together, we are sure to overcome the challenges ahead.

It only remains for me to wish all of you and your families, a Happy Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.