Chemex - the successful franchise celebrates

As part of the bi-annual conference and 20th anniversary celebrations, Chemex unveiled a new logo and liveried van. Rachel Spaul reviews the event and discovers what this means for franchisees

The bi-annual conference and awards ceremony was a landmark event for chemical distribution franchise Chemex marking the company's 20th anniversary and celebrating the launch of new branding, a new website and products.

The majority of the network's 100 franchisees attended the event, which was held recently at Penns Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.

Les Gray, who founded Chemex in 1985, opened the conference with a brief history of the company and how it has evolved over the past 20 years. He highlighted Chemex's first re-branding exercise 10 years ago, which saw the name change from Chemical Express to Chemex International to better reflect the company's expansion overseas, before unveiling its new identity.

Franchisee Recruitment Manager Richard Sarjent explains the reasoning behind the re-branding: 'After 20 years we decided it was time to once again update our corporate identity. We wanted to bring it up to date highlighting the services we offer while still reflecting our 'old-fashioned' service ethic. The van livery incorporates the new logo but also makes it more obvious what services franchisees provide.'

Chemex International is a mobile one-stop chemical shop supplying over 150 products to markets including hospitals, hotels, pubs, petrol stations, bus depots and butcher shops. Among its 30,000 strong repeat customer base are a number of blue chip companies.

Staying ahead of the competition is essential, especially in the competitive cleaning products industry. Chemex has introduced a new hygiene control programme, which uses a series of charts and tick lists to help those in the catering industry ensure they comply with hygiene regulations.

The launch of the updated website will bring further benefits to franchisees, prospective franchisees and customers with three distinct sections: recruitment, product and supplier information for customers, and a dedicated area for existing franchisees where they can download information, place orders and exchange ideas with franchisees. 'We felt that the old website needed bringing up to date,' Richard reasons.

The highlight of the event was the much anticipated unveiling of the new van livery, which was 'enthusiastically received' confirms Richard. He continues: 'The right presentation is extremely important to franchisees. We ensure all franchisees have new, clean vans. All new vehicles will have this livery and existing franchisees have the option of adopting the graphics, which is already being readily taken up.'

In addition to launching the new branding and products, Chemex made its annual award presentations. John Heslop, an ex-mechanical engineer from South Yorkshire and winner of the 'Franchisee of the Year' award, built his business through determination and tenacity. During his five years with the company he has put two vans on the road serving over 200 customers and has plans for a third.

'I was delighted with the award,' he exclaims. 'It shows that if you have self-belief, tenacity and belief in the products, Chemex provides all the tools needed to be successful. It is hard work but I enjoy it and am making a good living from it. I set myself a target to equal my income as a mechanical engineer within two or three years, which I have achieved and exceeded.'

John admits that he was daunted by the prospect of making sales when he joined Chemex, as he didn't have sales experience. 'I was very apprehensive about cold calling but within a few months my confidence grew,' he confirms. 'I'm now confident enough to knock on any door.'

John also plays an active role in the development of the Chemex franchise as a whole by meeting with the 'business development collective' every two months to brainstorm new products and developments.

Richard continues: 'The conference was a huge success and we're considering making it an annual event. Conferences are a great morale booster and give franchisees the opportunity to socialise and share ideas.'

Richard adds that there is currently a high level of interest in the Chemex franchise because of its two decades of experience. 'Our 20-year pedigree brings professionalism and credibility.

Although we're an established company, opportunities still exist in key territories throughout the UK as well as re-sale opportunities within established areas.'