John Kerrigan – CEO, Fowler Welch

John Kerrigan – CEO, Fowler Welch

July 2, 2024

John Kerrigan – Fowler Welch CEO, joined the business in early 1999. His first role was a traffic office junior, giving drivers their references to get in to the retailer RDC’s, then swiftly moved through the transport department, before moving into supervisory roles, then Transport Manager; General Manger, Regional General Manager, National Ops Director + COO roles followed, before John was then appointed as CEO in 2021, soon after the acquisition of Fowler Welch by Culina Group.

John said … “Being offered the role of CEO in 2021, after just over 20 years with the business was an extremely proud moment for you. Being given the chance to lead a business that I loved, with so many colleagues and customers that I know so well, was a very proud moment, for which I will always be grateful”.

Within the first three years of the journey with Culina Group, under John’s leadership, Fowler Welch integrated the former Robsons Lincolnshire based business into Fowler Welch, then acquired AIM Logistics Ltd and Robert Burns Ltd to add a presence in Evesham and Scotland to our already impressive network and we moved in to our first brand new build in Aylesford, Kent.

John said “Managing that period of growth; through the challenges of COVID, then BREXIT, through the well-publicised labour shortages from 2022, the cost-of-living crisis in 2023 and a recession in 2024 was difficult, but also extremely rewarding. You learn far more from times of adversity about yourself and those around you, than you do, when everything is calm and ‘easy’. I had a great team through those difficult times, and we set ourselves up for a fantastic future, once the global and national economic climate settles back down, which they will”.

Questions / Answers

What makes Fowler Welch a special company to run?

Our culture, our people, and our customers! It is as simple as that. Our sector and our USP of managing short shelf life, fast moving, perishable cross dock and consolidation is not for everyone. Those that enjoy the pace, the challenge, and the ultimate desire to get the job done each day for our customers, regardless of what obstacles are put in our way, will thrive in Fowler Welch. I am blessed to have a management team and many others working for them that do enjoy it, that work tremendously hard to achieve those goals and customers that appreciate what we do for them. Despite being a £200m + turnover business, with over 1,500 colleagues, we still feel like a close-knit family which is so important.

What is something you wish you had known before becoming CEO?

A great question … Probably how to answer questions well, in interviews like this

What is the most difficult thing about being CEO?

The pressure of continually trying to ensure all your colleagues and customers are happy, feel valued and are motivated to keep going, especially through tough times. Also, how to keep that ‘close knit family’ culture as the business grows in size and scale.

What advice would you give to someone applying for a job at Fowler Welch?

Do your research on the sector, on the industry and be sure FW is the right company for you. If you are honest, have good core values, are willing to learn, want to be part of a team, want to work hard, to go the extra mile when needed, then FW could be a great company for you and a fantastic choice. FW could provide you with development, progression and reward and you could be very happy. If that isn’t you, nor the company you might want, then FW might not be the right choice for you right now. Think that through carefully before you apply.

What is the best advice that someone has ever given you?

Don’t over complicate anything, don’t over think things, don’t lose sight of who you are, or what you are and be the best version of yourself at all times, especially when under pressure.

What do the next 5 years hold for Fowler Welch?

Once the global economy settles, once the UK population have some more money back in their pockets to spend and when volumes start to grow again, then there is a really positive outlook on the horizon for Fowler Welch. FW has a great national network, the largest and most successful retailers and manufacturers in our customer portfolio and the financial backing of a strong privately owned Group. FW will look to grow further, extend the position as the leading temperature-controlled produce transport provider in the UK and invest further into the business and the colleagues. We must realise our vision of being an “Employer of Choice”, we must ensure our facilities are continually improved and extend our reward offerings to ensure our colleagues and customers are continually looked after, given a great service and feel as valued as our colleagues.