Scott Sully, Dominic Bacon en Wayne Gibson are the owners of RIF Group and started working with Visser & Visser in 2018. What brought their logistics company to the Netherlands, what drives them to constantly move their business forward, and to what do they attribute RIF’s success? The logistics market is incredibly competitive but, according to Scott, Wayne and Dominic the keys to growth are actually pretty straightforward.

A big party is being held this November to celebrate RIF’s 20th anniversary. But if it had been left to the company’s CEO, this milestone would probably have passed without any fuss. “I’m not someone who looks backwards too much,” says Scott Sully. “I prefer looking forwards and thinking about the next thing, the next challenge. I can hardly believe that 20 years have gone by since we started RIF Worldwide, providing international freight services and customs clearance. Most importantly, all of us owners are all still friends. I see that as our biggest achievement.”

So what’s their secret? “It’s chemistry, I suppose”, answers Dominic. “We had already worked together before, so already knew each other, were aware of each other’s good and bad points. Going into business together is like getting married: you don’t really know how things are going to work, or not work, but thankfully it has panned out fantastically well for us. We all agreed on our beliefs of what customers want and that was a very good place to start from.”

Building trust

But how does a company know what its customers want? Wayne explains that it all comes down to relationships. “Quite simply, if customers don’t like you, they don’t come back. It’s not only about providing a service but also about building trust. Most companies set their sights on dealing with very big customers but even today, we specialise in what our business was built on: SMEs. There are loads of fantastic SMEs out there and working with them generally means dealing with the owners, who are looking for a close relationship with a company that can provide some advantage their competitors don’t have.”

FLTR: Dominic Bacon, Wayne Gibson, Erik Bakker, Dico Verbeek (General Manager Freight RIF Europe) and Nick John (General Manager RIF Europe)

The advantage RIF provides comes down to top-level customer service. “It is a bit of a cliché but we’ve always made sure we have high staffing levels – essential for a service provider. It’s easy to make money by not having enough people to provide the service. So customers ring up and get put on hold for 10, 15 minutes or more and when they do reach the company they are speaking with a different customer service person each time they call. We don’t work that way. Also, when customers want something, we aim to do it straight away. A customer request is an opportunity to do something a bit special for that customer. If you think about it from the service perspective, if your customers never ask you for anything, what opportunities do you have to show them that you’re good? Responding immediately, even to the simplest request, definitely buys loyalty and brings your customers back.”

Scott also cites the need to recognise the importance of being a good logistics partner. “A lot of logistics companies look at customers and only see profit. But we have an important role to play in helping client businesses grow. They trust us to store their goods safely and deliver them on time. We are an extension of their business and of their brand. If we’re bad and send out the wrong quantities to the wrong place or not on time, they look bad. If we do not just a good job but an exceptional job, they will grow and that will bring us rewards too.”

The launch of RIF Europe

RIF Europe BV was launched in the Netherlands in 2018, but that’s not where the company’s relationship with this country began. It has been selling logistics solutions via the Netherlands since the beginning, helping its UK-based customers to get goods into mainland Europe. Dominic: “Opening up RIF Europe was our first overseas venture. The time had come for our own operation here. Brexit had an impact, or on timing, for sure, but I think we would’ve opened up in the Netherlands by now even if Brexit hadn’t happened.”

Over the past four years, the Visser & Visser team has supported RIF through a period of rapid growth. When founding RIF Europe BV, its management was keen to get the right professional support. “You need advice from people who understand the local market – that’s incredibly important”, says Dominic. “You can’t think you know how things are going to work, even if you go on the internet and research everything. You still need the expert help and support of a local company that is good at what it does, and we found that help and support at Visser & Visser.”

Looking forward

RIF currently employs hundreds of people and has enjoyed accelerated growth in the last 3-4 years. How has this affected Scott, Dominic and Wayne? Do they still enjoy it all as much as they did back when they started out? Scott: “I still love it. I could talk about our business all day. It’s my baby, my life’s work. And there’s still so much that we want to do.” Dominic and Wayne agree: “We’re all different people. But that adds to it. It’s like a cocktail. Get the combination of ingredients right and it’s lovely!”

The Visser & Visser team ensures fiscal compliance, takes care of the payroll and prepares the annual accounts for RIF. As of this year, it will also perform the mandatory audit that RIF is now subject to because of its growth. The work involved is generally pretty complex, entailing the involvement of a range of specialists. For accountant and branch manager Erik Bakker, this makes working for RIF Europe highly enjoyable. “It’s never run-of-the-mill and usually there’s a time pressure element too, which makes it very rewarding work. We are challenged to do our best in whichever area of expertise we are asked to provide. On a personal level, that motivates me to produce good work.”

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