Last week we took a day out of the office and made the two hour road trip down to Plymouth to visit our new distributor, NBN International (NBNi). NBNi takes care of the storage and shipping of our books destined for customers in the UK and all over the world (except the Americas, which is handled by their American counterpart, National Book Network). We are in constant contact with the orders and customer services teams and regularly email our contacts, Juliette and Matt, with queries as we settle in to the workings of a new distributor, so I was looking forward to meeting everyone and putting faces to names.
The team at NBNi gave us a very warm welcome and while Tommi, Sarah and Laura had a meeting with Juliette and Ian about ASR (Automatic Stock Replenishment), Anna and I were taken on a tour of the warehouse and offices by Matt, our designated contact at NBNi. The tour started by navigating the maze of shelves that house the slower-moving books and then we were taken through to the packing section, where we caught our first glimpse of one of our own titles, The Darker Side of Travel, waiting to be packaged up and sent out. Next, we went through to the bulk store section of the warehouse, filled with boxes of books on shelves that reached 10 metres high. This provided the highlight of the day when Anna and I were allowed to ride one of the forklifts (kindly supervised by its driver) up to the topmost shelves. We were originally blasé when asked if we were afraid of heights, but being 10 metres up felt a lot higher from the air than it looked from the ground!
Having set our feet back on firm ground, we made our way back past the packing area, were mesmerised by a plastic wrapping robot described by its operator as ‘poetry in motion’, met the warehouse manager and then went up to the mezzanine level of the warehouse to get a better view of the place. There were bookshelves as far as the eye could see and we spotted somebody dusting the top row, which has to be done every day to ensure the stored books are kept in good, saleable condition. On our way back down, we stumbled across a big chunk of shelving filled with our books, which provided a a perfect opportunity for Anna to have a photo with Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language. We then popped in to see the print on demand service, where some of our books are set up, before it was time to head back upstairs to meet the orders and customer services team, who deal with our requests on a day-to-day basis.
We all met up again for lunch (there was a lot of jealousy at the news of our forklift ride) and soon it was time to hit the road. There was just enough time to fit in a quick detour to Dawlish to drop in on Sarah’s parents, who greeted us with delicious scones from their local tearooms, before heading back to Bristol.
This trip was a great opportunity to meet our new colleagues at NBNi and get a feel for how everything works there. We’re looking forward to working with them in 2017 and beyond!