Suttons is one of the largest private, family owned companies in the UK and has grown through hard work, innovation, the highest levels of service and constant commitment to the business from the Sutton family.
In 1954 founder Alf Sutton set up the company with 18 vehicles and 58 staff following the de-nationalisation of the long-distance haulage sector.
In 2014, Suttons now operates one of the UK’s largest shared user chemical road transport networks, provides logistics and supply chain services for the gases, food and petroleum sectors, is world renowned for its technical capabilities and quality of service and has won many awards for its safety performance.
The company has successful operations across five continents and now employs more than 800 people. Suttons continues to be a commercial success and is still focussed on the development of its chosen markets, always looking for new and innovative ways to improve and grow.
It’s also a year since Alf’s grandson John Sutton, took the reins as CEO of Suttons. He takes up the story:
“In the 1940s, prior to nationalisation, the company was known as A.B. Sutton and Sons and had a strong reputation for reliability and innovation. De-nationalisation, together with a rapidly expanding road network and burgeoning motorway system provided the company with the freedom to truly push technology and provide customers with alternative solutions. One example of Alf’s ingenuity was adapting his six wheeler fleet to be able to carry four tonnes more payload by adding a trailer in a system which became known as wagon and drag. The system gave Suttons a legal payload of 22 tonnes which was substantially more than the competition.
“There is no doubt that this resourceful and innovative approach to operations laid the foundations for the modern day transport and logistics sector. Without pushing the boundaries of what was possible it would never have developed into the multi-faceted, fast, and reliable service it is today.”
Suttons was also at the forefront of tank container development. There are currently over 350,000 tank containers around the world transporting countless liquids and gases, but in the late 1960s there was only a handful.
“As the decades came and went, Suttons grew consistently, always staying one step ahead of the competition and always looking for new and emerging markets and trends to capitalise on. One such emerging market was the use of ISO tank containers to transport chemicals. Our customers needed heating systems on ISO tanks and in the early 1970s Suttons was the first company to develop this technology. We designed and built our own systems for heat sensitive products, further broadening the range of products we could carry.”
In 1978, Alf Sutton’s son Michael became Managing Director of the company and took the company from strength to strength. Always keeping a close eye on market developments, Suttons opened a number of international offices while significantly growing the tank container and road transport fleets. During the 80s and 90s Suttons grew considerably, both domestically and internationally, staying at the forefront of technology and making sure the company had the equipment and people needed to satisfy an ever growing list of customers.
With John at the helm, the future looks extremely positive:
“I’ve worked for Suttons since leaving university and held a number of positions within the Group, I am proud to be leading the company in its next phase. The team we have will enable Suttons to grow and capitalise on our core strengths but also to offer a broader range of services in logistics and supply chain management.
“Suttons has enjoyed many successes in the last 60 years and looks well placed to capitalise on the opportunities it has identified across the world. We are proud of our past and excited about our future.”