Flooring Magazine recently sat down with Derek Lightfoot, CEO of GMK Logistics to discuss all thing business including a discussion about the expansion of the GMK footprint.
- GMK has over 60 years of experience in the logistics industry. What is the GMK story?
G.M. Kane & Sons Pty Ltd was founded in 1962 by John Kane, who named the business after his parents George and Muriel. The business started with only one truck, providing general freight services between Sydney and Camden. John soon saw a growing need for the transportation of flooring products and decided to specialise in this area. He expanded the network to include the remainder of NSW and began trading as GMK Transport, quickly becoming the market leader in NSW. In 2005 John appointed his daughter Sharon as the Managing Director. Sharon saw that there was a huge opportunity to service the flooring industry nationally and in March 2008 she rebranded the business as GMK Logistics and opened facilities in all major capital cities.
I joined the business in 2012 when GMK was acquired by Logico Operations, a small private equity firm. For the next three years we built upon the solid base that Sharon had formed and made several major changes such as developing the 3PL offering and implementing a new IT system. We also acquired the assets of a former competitor and integrated their customers and premises into the GMK operation.
In June 2015, GMK was acquired by CTI Logistics Limited, a public listed company based in Perth. I remained with GMK as CEO and over the ensuing eight years we have continued to develop and improve the business. In 2016 we moved our Sydney operation into a purpose-built 22,000 sqm site in Gregory Hills. The demand for our services in NSW has continued to grow and we are now building a 12,000 sqm warehouse extension which is due for completion in June 2024.
In 2018, our General Manager at the time, David Knagge, sourced a custom-made carpet cutting table for our Melbourne facility. The Carpet Boss III was built by the Perpetual Machine Company in the USA. It is capable of 45 cuts per hour and includes check measure balances as well as finished product wrapping.
The following year, GMK implemented the JAIX Warehousing and Transportation system, a product developed specifically for the Australian logistics sector. We worked extensively with JAIX to customise the system which provides full product visibility, real time stock on hand reporting, track and trace, sign on glass and immediate PODs to name a few.
As demand for our services has continued to grow, our warehousing footprint has also expanded. In June 2023, we moved our Brisbane operation into a new purpose-built facility in Yatala, and we have recently committed to a new Melbourne site in Epping, which is scheduled to be completed in June 2024.
- GMK is a full-service logistics company. Walk us through your service offering including an explanation of the transportation and warehousing services available.
From the start, GMK has been focussed on customer service. Our aim was to deliver our customers’ product, Australia-wide, as quickly and efficiently as possible, on time and in good condition, at a fair and competitive cost. Nothing has changed in this respect, although we continually seek to increase the number of locations serviced by GMK owned and operated vehicles. We have recently expanded our range of delivery services in rural Victoria and NSW, which gives us greater control over our service quality and immediate access to POD’s and other data.
We also provide a fully outsourced warehousing solution, including carpet, vinyl and artificial turf cutting services in all major depots. Our warehouses are designed to handle all types of flooring products, including roll product, palletised tiles and hard flooring, and rugs. We also manage samples and associated products.
With a professional management team, modern warehousing facilities in the major capital cities, specialised IT solutions and an extensive transportation fleet, GMK Logistics is the leading provider of logistics services to the flooring industry.
- Can you detail the many benefits of outsourcing warehousing to a third-party specialist?
Outsourcing allows our customers to focus on their core competencies, enhancing productivity and innovation, while GMK handles all their warehousing and logistics requirements. Cost savings are another advantage, as outsourcing avoids investments in warehouse infrastructure, technology, and workforce training. Our customers gain flexibility and scalability, adapting quickly to fluctuating demand without the burden of excess space or personnel.
Additionally, outsourcing provides better supply chain visibility through advanced tracking and reporting systems, fostering stronger relationships with our customers’ clients and suppliers. Speed to market is also improved with GMK’s integrated warehouse and transport operations, allowing later cut-off times and immediate access to transport. Finally, it improves risk management by leveraging GMK’s expertise in compliance, regulatory requirements, and risk mitigation strategies, reducing the likelihood of costly errors or disruptions in the supply chain. Overall, outsourcing warehouse functions streamlines operations and enhances competitiveness.
- Every day, safety issues are discussed and reviewed at every GMK site as part of your total commitment to the safety. Can you explain your Zero Harm safety program?
Safety is our number one priority at GMK Logistics and our total commitment to safety extends to our team, our suppliers, our customers and the wider community.
Through our ZERO HARM safety program, we are working hard to achieve:
- Zero medically treated injuries (MTIs)
- Zero lost time injuries (LTIs)
- Zero motor vehicle incidents
- Zero unsafe practices.
Whilst we have a long history of great customer service, that doesn’t mean we bend the rules or operate in an unsafe manner to get the job done. Everyone at GMK is expected to perform their job in a safe and efficient manner, taking responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their colleagues.
- Over the years GMK has won many awards and accreditations. Share with us some of the highlights from the last few years.
Our first major success was in 2011 when former CEO Sharon Kane was awarded Transport Woman of the Year. This award recognised the outstanding achievements of Sharon and her team in expanding the business nationally.
GMK also holds accreditation under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme for Mass Management, Maintenance Management and Basic Fatigue Management. These accreditations demonstrate our commitment to the safety of our people and the communities in which we operate.
As part of the CTI Logistics Limited group, GMK has also recently achieved ISO certification for the following standards:
- ISO 9001 : 2015 Quality Management System
- ISO 14001 : 2015 Environmental Management System
- ISO 45001 :2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System
Together, they provide the basis for our ‘Integrated Management System’ across transport, logistics and related services. GMK is committed to adopting industry best practices to meet and exceed the expectations of our key stakeholders.
- Looking ahead, what plans have you got for the future of GMK Logistics?
The future for GMK is both exciting and challenging. We have new facilities coming on stream in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, all of which offer great warehousing opportunities for existing and new customers. All three buildings have a Five Star, Green Star rating, demonstrating our commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. We are also working with our customers on a range of sustainability initiatives, with a focus on the recycling of flooring products. The expansion of the GMK footprint will also continue, with services to North Queensland our next priority.