12 Apr Chelmsford based Chandler Material Supplies thanks customers for pandemic support
An award-winning family business has thanked its loyal customers for their support through the pandemic.
Chandler Material Supplies has grown from a one-man coal seller almost 100 years ago to the local go-to builder’s merchants in Chelmsford.
Today, it also houses a bathroom showroom, landscape display, as well as a brick matching service, painting and decorating supplies and free local delivery.
The four-generations family business, which operates from a three-acre site off the Chandler roundabout in Widford, welcomed its customers in for a celebratory barbecue after winning prestigious industry awards during the pandemic.
The company scooped Small Merchant of the Year and E-commerce Initiative of the Year at the Builders Merchants Journal Industry Awards at the Park Plaza London.
Marketing and operations assistant Lauren Penney said: “Anyone within our vast industry can be nominated for these awards. So, to be shortlisted and to go on to win in two categories is a big achievement.
“These awards reinforce that our customers recognise and appreciate the work we have put in during the pandemic to keep them working.
“The way we run our business is very customer centric; they are at the centre of everything we do. Our customers are very loyal and have been with us for a long time.”
Lauren is the daughter of the company’s managing director and great-great-granddaughter of the man who started the family in the trade back in the 1920s.
She is one of 11 family members who now work within the business, with the younger generation bringing about significant changes over the years, including an overhaul of technology and processes to enable growth.
That ability to move with the times saw the company launch a new website when the pandemic hit, enabling customers to place orders, access their accounts and make payments 24/7, instead of waiting for office opening hours.
Lauren said: “There were lots of product shortages during the pandemic. We added a live stock feed to our website, so customers could check day or night what we had available, saving them time and keeping them working.
“Our customers were so grateful, they voted for us to win the e-commerce award.
“As a thank-you, we invited our customers in for a celebratory barbecue. It was also an opportunity to chat and find out how best we can support them.”
During lockdowns, the company closed its yard, but continued to carry out emergency deliveries and a click and collect service.
Now, after feedback from customers, the queuing system introduced as a result of the pandemic remains as it provides a smoother shopping experience.
Lauren said: “It was a really challenging time, but it has helped us to be even more customer focused. It helped us to re-evaluate how we do things.
“For me, being part of the Chandler legacy is so important. We want to carry on the good work of the previous family owners. It is becoming rarer to get independent merchants which are multi-generation family run.
“A lot of our customers come to us because of our history. We have been here for so long and they know we will look after them.”
Every month, Chandler Materials invite suppliers in to give customers and opportunity to speak directly to experts in their fields regarding their products and projects and enjoy a free breakfast.