The long haul – to state-of-the-art archive storage

CSM Storage & Archives in Dagenham celebrated 12 years of trading this year, but THP’s relationship with the people behind the firm stretches back much further.

Back in 1984, CSM’s Colin Morton was running a small haulage business when he was referred to Keith Pullen, now a director at our Chelmsford office.  To begin with we supplied the firm with Management Accounts to help it grow its business – and 30 years down the line Colin has grown a network of successful companies under the CSM brand.

Colin’s son-in-law Lee Harris now provides day-to-day leadership of CSM Storage & Archives. He explains how the company came into being. “Our haulage company owned bonded warehouses to store goods for shipping companies. We saw an opportunity to move into other types of storage, particularly for documentation that businesses didn’t want to – or couldn’t – store on their own sites.”

CSM’s earliest takers for this service were solicitors and insurance companies, but with a lot of persistence and dogged hard work it built up a roster of larger clients that includes NHS hospitals, major pensions firms Hymans Roberston, developer Countryside Properties, global ratings specialist Fitch Ratings, the London Chamber of Commerce and the London Symphony Orchestra.

“It was hard work building up the business in the early years,” says Lee. “It can be difficult to convince clients to switch providers simply because of the logistical difficulty of transferring a large archive. Also, firms often have tie-in clauses that include termination costs, although we will often absorb that cost if a new client signs up to our service for three years or more.”

Slowly but surely, larger clients began to make the move to CSM. “One of the major factors in our favour was cost,” explains Lee. “Cubic foot costs for storage in the city have risen and risen, making our service an attractive option. We’re only a short distance from London, but our overheads are nowhere near as high.”

The quality of CSM’s service is also a deciding factor, particularly when it comes to client retention. “We aim to provide a much more personal service than our competitors. We don’t route enquiries through call centres – we answer every call ourselves. And if a client needs to access papers in a hurry, we’ll do all we can to locate them quickly and send them by one of our dedicated vehicles.”

It’s an approach that is paying dividends. CSM recently opened a brand new, climate-controlled warehouse that not only allows it to store more, but also helps it reach out to clients that need to keep documents in consistent conditions.

THP was closely involved in the new warehouse project, advising the company on ways they could use to support a pension fund and reduce its tax liabilities. “I like working with THP,” Lee says. “They’re really friendly and they’re very good at finding ways to save you money. They’re always looking for new opportunities to help the business thrive.”

As THP has accompanied CSM on its journey of growth over the last 30 years, we’ve provided more and more services, from VAT advice to help in reducing Corporation Tax. “They’re also fun to work with,” says Keith Pullen. “We visit CSM at least once a month, and we always get a warm welcome – our relationship these days is very much one of trusted partners. I hope we’ll help the business for many years to come!”

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