Embracing Change: The Evolution of Suttons’ US Operations Team

The operations team in the US has evolved quite significantly in recent years. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, it was a fully in-office environment with all team members based in New Jersey. Now, we are a multi-location team across three states.

This transformation was partly influenced by external factors, but mainly driven by decisions made to ensure we could continue delivering a service that both the Customer and Suttons expected.

When remote working was introduced during the height of COVID, it was a new experience for everyone, bringing new challenges. Ultimately, these challenges ushered the team into a more modern way of working.

Gone were the old paper job files, replaced by shared spreadsheets, online operating procedures, and Microsoft Teams, making it much easier for everyone to keep in touch and access information remotely.

Recruiting new employees while working remotely was also unprecedented. We conducted interviews via Microsoft Teams rather than in person, onboarding new recruits without face-to-face meetings or training.

During this time, we adopted a fresh approach to recruitment, opening up the Houston job market, where a greater number of experienced tank operators are located. Without being tied to a physical office, we had the opportunity to strengthen our team with some of the best people in the industry. These new recruits, already experienced in the tank container industry, had an easier transition into the Suttons Way.

This initiative proved successful, and the level of interest from experienced industry professionals allowed us to handpick the best of the best. This positioned Suttons well when operating in some of the toughest market conditions I’ve experienced.

Once COVID restrictions were lifted, unlike many other tank operators, we decided to continue with remote working. This decision was made after analysing productivity, customer satisfaction, and employee feedback.

We now have a mix of experienced employees based in NJ, PA, and TX. Despite the thousands of miles between employees, the close-knit team feeling has been maintained through various initiatives and employee committees designed to ensure everyone feels included.

I have been in the business for over 27 years, and I would say the last four have seen the most significant changes in how we operate and work as a team. It is vastly different from when I started in 1997, but I believe we have embraced the challenges, adopted new modern ways of working, and emerged as a much stronger, experienced, and robust operations team, well-prepared for an ever-changing industry.

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