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Work in Progress with Army Ants

Nov 15, 2013
It was back in 2011 that The Mover first reported on Anthony Walmsley, a young man just starting out in the business with his company Army Ants in Preston. Two years later, Steve Jordan braved the M6 to see how he is getting on building his business despite tough trading conditions.

When I first met Anthony he was working out of a wooden garden shed, had two vehicles, no operator’s license, rented a part of a warehouse elsewhere in the town, and employed two friends as porters.  He had started his new moving business in 2008, just about the worst possible time to start any business let alone one so dependent upon the housing market (that was shrinking out of sight) and the availability of finance (that was rare and expensive).  Yet, somehow there was a quality about Anthony, a combination perhaps of a capacity for hard work and a naivety that would not allow him to consider failure, that made me as sure as he was that he would succeed.

Two years later, and considering the difficult trading conditions over the period, it is hard to imagine a more comprehensive transformation.  Army Ants has now taken over the whole of the storage facility from which it previously rented 50 storage boxes.  The 20,000 sq ft warehouse includes around 300 storage boxes, offices, something close to 100 very smart self storage units of various sizes with a drive-through facility for customers, and 4,600 archive storage boxes.  When I called Anthony had just landed a nice contract with the local council that would take the warehouse from almost full, to completely full. 

Outside is a substantial yard with 52 x 20ft containers, all owned by Army Ants and all full with self storage.  The vehicle fleet has grown and changed dramatically.  There are now two removals lorries, sporting the company’s new blue livery and personalised number plates, a Mercedes Sprinter van for international work, three trailers that provide a free collection service for self storage customers, and a rather smart Land Rover Defender to pull them.

The staff has risen to 11 permanently employed with a further bank of experienced part-time staff ready to fill any gaps during busy times and Darren Whitehead, the company’s Manager, who oversees operations and takes much of the day-to-day load from Anthony.  This is a nice business, doing well and with buckets full of ideas for the future. It is a real treat to see.

 

I asked Anthony how he had achieved so much in such a short time.  “We worked really hard,” he said.  Maybe it really is that simple.

 

There’s plenty going on for the future too.  Anthony already has plans to invest more heavily in the warehouse, and has his eyes on an adjacent vacant plot that will extend his yard to probably four times its current size.  He also has plans to expand into London where has had much success and is looking to set up more permanent relationships overseas. 

 

This is a business that has thrived more through the worst recession in living memory than most companies could reasonably expect during a boom.  And it’s just work in progress ….

 

Photos: Names from left to right as as follows, Jamie Sanderson, Gary Hickey, Mark Straker, Steven Iddon, Darren Whitehead, Anthony Walmsley

 

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