Rapide System Supplies, Weston-super-Mare
Rapide was formed in 1984 by the Managing Director, Charles Walker, as a management buyout from the multinational Dickinson Robinson Group. The company started selling computer supplies, chiefly floppy discs, printer ribbons and computer paper. Changes in technology and diversification have led to the company now selling office paper, printer cartridges, general stationery, office furniture, printing and office machines. These six product areas are now the heart of the business.
Our customers are mainly businesses and the public sector, schools, colleges and councils. Recently we have been dealing direct with the general public. Although we operate nationwide the bulk of our customers are serviced by our own vans and are within 50 miles of our base in Weston-super-Mare.
Good access to the motorway network is important to a distribution business like ours. Our close proximity to junction 21 of the M5 is essential both for our deliveries to our customers as well as for our suppliers delivering bulk supplies to us by heavy goods vehicles.
In 2004 Rapide moved to purpose built premises in Weston. We looked at moving elsewhere but stayed in Weston mainly due to the majority of our staff living in the town. We have 14 employees who are all highly trained and many have been with the company since it started. We do not have a high turnover of staff and have always been able to find people with the right skills. Our staff are trained mainly on the job but we use Weston College which has a wide range of courses to suit our needs as well as the North Somerset Enterprise Agency for short term training.
Over the years we have made considerable investments in I.T to lower our costs and give our customers a better service. The use of the internet with electronic ordering has revolutionised our business over the years and will continue to do so. We will continue to invest in this area in the future.
In December 2008 we carried out our first acquisition, purchasing the commercial business of Mendip Office and Art, a stationery business based in Congresbury. This has been a great success as we have welcomed the Mendip customers into the business. We are looking for other suitable opportunities to expand in this way.
Despite the current economic situation we are expanding rapidly and are looking forward with optimisim to our 30th anniversary in 2014!
Charles Walker (Managing Director)