Ray Cole, director, Virginia International Logistics, in the company’s distribution centre at Kells with driver, Andy Taylor.

Firm driving forward with confidence

The important role of transport companies and their staff in terms of putting a variety of goods on shop shelves - as well as vital medical supplies - was never more apparent that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Considered an essential service, lorry drivers and transport workers found themselves on the frontline with healthcare staff and retail workers. The team at Virginia International Logistics was proud to play their part.

From humble beginnings in the 1960s, Virginia International Logistics has grown into one of the region’s largest and most respected transport and logistics companies. It currently employs over 180 people and boasts a modern fleet of 120 trucks including Natural Gas Vehicles and over 400 trailers.

It’s a world apart from what Johnny and Bridie Cole envisaged back in the 1960s when they established Ramor Transport. Johnny began collecting milk in the area with his Ford 14.9 for Bailieborough Co-op and Virginia Milk Products.

In 1982, the business was rebranded to Virginia Transport Ltd with Johnny’s four sons (Sean, Eamon, James and Ray) all as directors. Today the firm serves a customer base of over 900 companies from four distribution centres in Virginia, Co Cavan; Kells, Co Meath; Ballycoolin, Co Dublin and Tamworth, UK. Between them, the sites provide three chilled and ambient warehouses at over 130,000 sq ft and a purpose-built, state-of-the-art 8,000 sq ft workshop for fleet maintenance.

The branded trucks are a regular sight on the country’s roads as they transport cargo between Ireland, the UK and Europe, as well as containerised goods worldwide.

The trailers are among the most modern on the market - temperature controlled, dry freight, bulk liquid and containerised trailers for all sectors including Food, Electronics, Pharma, Manufacturing and ADR dangerous goods. The company uses a Fleet Management System providing live tracking and temperature data. Drivers are fully trained in GDP, Airfreight and ADR.

In 2015, Virginia International opened its first UK Depot in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

In July 2018, the firm opened a new Logistics Centre in Kells, just two minutes from the M3 Motorway. The facility spans 50,000 ft² and sits 11m high with a capacity of 10,300 standard pallets.

Ray Cole is proud of the company’s success to date. “The company has achieved this expansion through investment in people, technology, and the fleet.

“At Virginia International Logistics we believe in providing a first-class personal and professional service, while also offering the best sustainable logistical solution tailored specifically to each customer.”

Operations continue to go from strength to strength. “We have increased our turnover by 35% in the past four years due to an expansion of services offered to customers allowing a one-stop-shop for all of their global requirements.

“This has been helped by the introduction of the latest technologies to optimise efficiencies and costs,” revealed Ray.

With an increasing emphasis on the environment and sustainability, Virginia International Logistics is also making an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and costs.

In 2012, the fleet had a litres/100km return rate of nearly 41 and fuel prices were escalating. “We developed an Energy Policy with key aims: Eliminate energy waste across our businesses, optimise vehicle fuel usage, and protect the environment by reducing the amount of pollution, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, from our energy consumption and to prolong the useful life of fossil fuels,” explained Ray.

It was decided to try to decrease fuel usage by 10% in the first year.

All trucks were recalibrated. Drivers were retrained to target driving styles to reduce fuel usage and a weekly driver performance league table increased competition due to a quarterly bonus.

So far, Virginia International has successfully met all targets each year and is currently on target to reduce fuel by further 5% this year.

“As a result of investment into CNG trucks and infrastructure, now 30 trucks in the fleet and two refuelling stations, our carbon footprint is further reducing year on year leading to more sustainable transport,” said Ray who is optimistic for the firm’s future post Covid and post Brexit.