Aidex Voices

Dawsongroup may be new to the humanitarian relief sector, but their eighty years of commercial experience and expertise promises to deliver the results needed in times of crisis. In an in-depth interview with AidEx, the CEO Stephen Miller sheds light on the products and services that brought the organisation into the international NGO field in the first place, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Tell us about the organisation?

Our company Dawsongroup PLC is one of Europe’s leading asset rental, leasing and contract hire businesses. The company has been established for over 80 years and employs at present 900 employees in the UK, Ireland and Western Europe. The company owns in excess of 25,000 assets including commercial vehicles, buses, coaches, temporary kitchens, refrigerated vans, and more. Part of the company’s offering to the market is a highly experienced and commercially successful range of cold store logistics and temperature controlled solutions across a wide range of industry verticals.            

What will Dawsongroup International be exhibiting at AidEx 2018?

At AidEx in Brussels, we are going to exhibit a range of our temperature controlled inflatable structures in tandem with our “hybrid” solar power systems, which are currently in development. We are relatively new to the humanitarian aid and disaster relief family; however, under our bonnet we have a vast amount of experience within the cold store logistics chain which we are confident of employing to benefit within the humanitarian sector.      

Why do you think Dawsongroup are best suited to carry out this project, given lack of previous experience in this sector?

That is a good question, but as a company we have carried out a significant amount of research in the first instance to understand the needs of the humanitarian aid sector in relation to storage structures. We have engaged with several major international agencies and NGOs, and have placed before them a blueprint for a temperature controlled, portable, scalable, and modular structure for the storing of a wide range of temperature-sensitive products. As a consequence, we will soon commence a demanding six month full trial with a major prospective client to deliver exactly that product.

A139 Front Perspective large warehouse

Large warehouse inflatable structure 

What does Dawson offer that makes your service stand out amongst those who have long term experience in the field?

As you can imagine, within the group the company has a wide range of services to offer to support our business. For instance, we own a dedicated finance company which supports all group sales activities, and I envisage some circumstances where we can leverage that financial strength to assist in spreading the financial load if purchasing or leasing would be appropriate.   

Why do you think this is interesting?

Primarily because our research showed that there was a lot of synchronisation between humanitarian aid and disaster relief and our core experience and business propositions - cold store logistics, refrigerated transportation, transport logistics, inflatable structures. To us it makes a lot of sense to use that eighty years of experience and knowledge to help people in need. 

As a new project what challenges do you think lie ahead?

In my opinion we have a mixture of the traditional challenges such as developing exposure for our products and services within the humanitarian sector from a start-up position, and that is why we have decided to exhibit at AidEx for instance, and the practical challenge such as devising, building and implementing a complete integrated “hybrid” solar powered system with our inflatable structures.      

How important do you think the private sector’s role is in aid and development?

It is important in our case as we can inject a significant amount of experience and expertise into the field of humanitarian aid, but in conjunction with the organisations and NGOs who operate in the field. Without their cooperation and feedback, it makes no sense in developing solutions for this area of need.  We consciously want to develop partnerships. For instance, we are in the process of delivering a bespoke system to a major humanitarian aid organisation for a six month trial in which we will learn a great deal as a company about storage issues on the ground, and in turn we feel we will contribute our experience and expertise in to the proposed ready-to-be-implemented solution.

What positive impact do you think this service will have?

We are really excited about the progress we are making in developing our core solutions for the humanitarian aid sector; because our structures are inflatable, scalable, and modular, we feel they are a natural fit to the needs of those who want fast and efficient implementation of storage for many different commodities and pharmaceutical applications within really demanding geographical regions.          

You can visit Dawsongroup at AidEx in Brussels on stand E20/E on 14 and 15 November 2018.