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Fagan & Whalley: Resilience and adaptability is down to the will of the people

To be in business for 95 years in a volatile industry such as logistics is some achievement. East Lancashire logistics firm Fagan & Whalley reveals what makes their resilient business so special.

10th October 2022

Logistics firm Fagan & Whalley (F&W) has been the pride of East Lancashire for more than 95 years.


Now a sixth generational family-run business, it continues to echo all the traditional hallmarks, which made it so special in the first place.


Still owned by the same family that started the business, it’s now brothers Stephen and Graham Fagan calling the shots. While their children – Daniel, Sam, Olivia and Laura play their part in the daily operations of the business.


But what makes F&W relevant today, in a world that’s change so vastly in the last five years, let alone the past 95?

Fagan & Whalley’s special formula


Letting us peak behind the closed doors is Daniel Wood, Operations Strategy Director, who showed us what makes Fagan & Whalley so special.


The minute you walk through the door and experience the buzz, it’s clear what makes F&W what it is. The people.


To work and succeed you need to have a certain mindset. One that’s focused on being positive and approachable. Not only does it mean everybody is pulling in the same direction and aligned to the brand’s values and ambitions, but everybody has a voice – and their input is welcomed.


Even the Directors have an open-door policy. Daniel explains that Fagan & Whalley is just one big family, which is the beating heart of the company, adding:


“Without people you are nothing. We understand the importance of people and realise that throughout our business.


“Graham and Stephen are not your stereotypical business owners. They’re hands on, and their doors are always open. They know people by name, and they want to know about everything that is going on.


“Everything they have, is through hard work. Everyone can tap into that themselves. The hours in this industry is notorious and putting that work in, you feel you’re able to grow alongside people who have the same ethos as well.”

Adaptability borne out from resilience


Trusting every individual is key. Everybody is considered an asset to the business, no matter their role – especially the drivers out on the frontline daily. But understanding the value every team member adds to the business – has helped build a strong mental resilience in the business.


With 95 years history, this facet has proven essential in keeping F&W going, relevant and futureproofed.


“Throughout our history, we’ve had to be adaptable to changes in the markets,” says Daniel. “We have flexibility in our DNA so we can switch in whichever direction is needed and look into new markets.


“Previously, we’ve transported nuclear fuel and timber roof trusses. These are things we’ve never done before. We’re always looking to do something different. It’s easy to put anything inside a curtain sider and move that from A to B.


“But we want to move from A to C, A to D, A to E and be adaptable and provide that solution and service to our customers.


“You need to be different as well. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have survived. Everything is ploughed back into the business. We want the best kit, the best people and the best facilities.”


Beginning from humble beginnings supporting the local textile industry, before becoming part of the UK automotive manufacturing supply chain. Over the years, F&W has diversified into numerous areas including: aerospace, construction and consumer goods, and are now going full steam into their biggest diversification programme.


In a change of pace, Fagan & Whalley has been and continues to invest in warehousing to support storage and packaging for key customers. Aptly named Frontier Park, in Blackburn, is the home to the newest and biggest distribution hub, which is also BRC accredited to store dry food products.


Daniel says: “It was customer driven and there was a lot of demand for it, but we never really had it before. We did a few bits here and there, but we took on a 92,000sq ft building and that was the springboard for the 90th celebrations, followed by the 200,000sq ft warehouse in Blackburn.


“It’s a success because of a lot of hard work, and that’s been the springboard for Frontier Park and the facilities we have there, and now it’s a really integral part of what we do.”

What’s on the horizon


With their 100th anniversary quickly approaching, Fagan & Whalley is looking to maximise the opportunities it has today. Starting by ramping up their multi-modal arm of the business, followed by further expansion of its regional bases.


Daniel says: “Logistics is becoming a one-stop shop for a lot of people. We’ll collect from the plants in our own vehicles, destuff them, palletise them, warehouse, pick and distribute them again. These orders could from somebody ordering from home or the office, and we’ll do everything else.


“We just bought Newport-based Alan R Jones – as part of our strategic plan to have a set of regional bases across the country to support our local operations and customers. For the immediate future, adding to these regional set-ups will be our next priorities.”


Already with a big presence across the UK, Fagan & Whalley is planning for the future by, making it easy for drivers to find somewhere safe to park and giving customers such as CHEP the service they require.


By (potentially adding new hubs in East Anglia and around London, it will give the business additional flexibility as the world of logistics continues to change. But also improve employee wellbeing. It’s something Fagan & Whalley has already been working on and is keen to get right.


Regardless of what happens over the next 100 years, Fagan & Whalley’s focuses will remain the same that’s assured. Their priorities have, are and always will be the customer and, of course, their people.