A brief encounter with WCF
...a mere stone’s throw from Carnforth station, which famously provided the setting for the 1945 film, Brief Encounter, lies WCF’s North West and Cumbria fuels division. Fuel Oil News recently met up with finance director, Jo Ritzema, North West general manager, Dave Spencer and commercial manager, Lynn Casson, at the company’s Carnforth depot
Founded as a farmers’ co- operative in 1911, the company was incorporated in 1988 and celebrated its centenary in
style with a party last May. 100 years on WCF remains fiercely independent and proud of it.
The company is owned by 3800 private shareholders, including many employees, which as Jo pointed out, is unusual in the UK for a non public organisation. “All of our employees are shareholders and encouraged to have shares, under the various schemes that we offer. Last year every employee received a bonus of £1500 in shares. It’s important to us that there’s a very strong element of employee ownership. It gives employees a sense of belonging and demonstrates to them that their opinions are valued.”
Across the business, WCF employs approximately 250 people, around 50 of whom work in the company’s fuels businesses. “Staff retention is high,” says Jo. “This is partly down to our culture and partly down to location.” Proving the point, Jo has worked at WCF for 8 years, whilst Lynn has been there for 18 and Dave 23 years.
Following the removal of the default retirement age in October, the company is keen to retain drivers over 65. “It’s definitely an advantage to have older drivers in the business,” comments Jo. “Their local knowledge and existing customer relations are invaluable.
It may be the case that an older driver is happy to work over the winter but would prefer the summer off to spend time with family, and we’re happy to accommodate that sort of request. The only downside, from a business point of view, is that the removal of the default retirement age, makes it very difficult to plan ahead.”