The logical choice

The James Dolan Logistics Group (JDL) has a simple slogan, ‘helping you realise your business goals.’ For Managing Director James Dolan, it summarises the ethos behind the organisation: “There is a full suite of logistics solutions available, including same day couriers, next day delivery and overnight pallets. As a result, the team can offer excellent customer service.”

The original James Dolan Logistics was first incorporated in 2009, before trading in 2010. Based in Cambridge, it was in James’own words a ‘one man band’ operation that became much bigger: “Deliveries began building up, to the point where the opportunity arose to purchase Green and Skinner in 2016, followed by Dooley Rumble in October 2017.”

Both of these entities are impressive in and of themselves – Green and Skinner Haulage was established in 1959, specialising in forwarding, air and sea freight, while Dooley Rumble was founded in 1986 by Neil Dooley and Simon Rumble, and has been involved in the distribution industry for over 30 years. Between the three firms, there is now a combined fleet of 53 vehicles available, ranging from vans to 44 tonne articulated lorries, with routes going from Wick in Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall on a daily basis, as well as delivering internationally through its increased network of contacts.

James insists this is more of a merger as opposed to a takeover: “Dooley Rumble subcontracted a lot of haulage, so Green and Skinner were able to pick up that work, effectively keeping everything in-house. At the moment, everything is being brought together in one location in Ipswich, including the main headquarters, which were completed at the end of December 2017.”

James’ role as Managing Director is a crucial component in the group, though he is quick to stress that he is one part of an efficient management structure: “For example, there is my Operations Director with over 20 years’ experience on the operational side, handling day to day issues with freight and so forth.What I do is based more on the financial direction, looking at strategies to move the business forward.”

When discussing what may happen in the future, the subject of Brexit will inevitably come up: “It’s hard to gauge, and a lot of people are understandably concerned about it. For JDL, this is seen as more of a positive change, as it should open up the European market and further afield,” James predicts. He is also happy to point out that recent financial news has been positive, with 110 employees producing an £11 million annual turnover. The new elements of the JDL framework have contributed significantly to these results: “Green and Skinner had the busiest November on record, £100,000 up on the year before, and at the moment 20 per cent more than the last 18 months of trading. Dooley Rumble only just came on board, but have also brought a lot of work in.”

When it comes to joining JDL, there are clear criteria for membership: any entity should have pre-tax profits of £50,000 over the course of three years, sustainable sales in the same time period and have low or justifiable structural debt. As James explains,there are practical reasons behind this approach: “This is effectively the wish list. If we like what they are offering, then a deal can be done. Being profitable is an important aspect, because JDL are not at the £100 million to £200 million turnover point, so at the moment a risk can’t be taken on a business that may be failing, or not doing as well as it could be.”

He does suggest that some new potential acquisitions are being actively looked at: “There are a few possibilities being investigated at the moment. Some of them are family owned companies that are of interest, while there are a few other local hauliers that could also be in contention.” James also hints that the final decision may be further afield than East Anglia: “Without specifying too much, it may well be the northwest, the Midlands or south-west of England, as these are useful locations to make the delivery process more effective.”

There is definitely the feeling that James knows what he wants, and the overall game plan seems to involve bringing in people that understand this: “There is no ceiling to what could be achieved, it doesn’t matter if it is a company with a £0.5 million or £50 million turnover, if someone coming in can tie in with JDL’s objectives, then moves will be made to get the deal done.”

James knows what he wants from any future agreements or partnerships: “Essentially, it’s about going with the flow, organically building up in a similar way to the Ipswich companies here now, ideally bolting others on to the established structure in due course. In terms of a five-year plan, it is about growing, and anyone coming in has to fit into that.”

In other words, the JDL Group has been built to deliver, and it will be offering a very attractive package to anyone wanting to come on board.

JDL Group
Cambridge-based freight company, first established in 2009
Acquired Ipswich-based Green and Skinner and Dooley Rumble
110 employees and an annual turnover of £11 million