Dive into the journey of First Fence: from pioneering innovations to global expansion 

Over the past decade, First Fence Ltd has rapidly established itself as one the UK’s leading fencing specialists, manufacturing and supplying a wide range of permanent security and temporary fencing, as well as traffic management and access solutions internationally. 

With an impressive logistics fleet and remarkable ambitions, the company is well-equipped to meet and exceed customer expectations. Committed to ensuring product availability and swift delivery, First Fence specifically tailors its services to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business. Vinny Kotecha, Entrepreneur, provides insights into the company’s history. 

Large machinery“Founded in 2010 by my brother and I, First Fence initially focused on temporary fences for building sites. However, we quickly transitioned into permanent and security fencing as it became evident that the fencing sector lagged behind other retail sectors in terms of pricing transparency and customer service standards. I personally felt that the level of service people were receiving wasn’t acceptable, but there weren’t many alternatives at the time. Subsequently, we experienced rapid growth, ascending from a turnover of around £750,000 to nearly doubling our revenue year on year. This year, we’re projected to reach circa £40 million in revenue with a staff of over 250. Notably, First Fence was the first company in the fencing industry to launch a full ecommerce website. We also began challenging the status quo, questioning why certain products needed to be bespoke when standardization could suffice for most customers,” he begins. 

As it became recognized as a pioneering force in the industry, First Fence expanded its geographical presence by opening various depots across the UK. “From 2010-to-2015, we relocated several times, eventually settling on a site with multiple industrial units. We found ourselves working long hours to cover the entire country and maintain the service levels we aimed for. It became overwhelming, prompting us to rethink our approach. Thus, in 2015, we began opening depots across the UK, our first one being in Kent, away from our Midlands head office. In June 2015, we expanded to Bristol. The following month, we bought our very first site in Tipton. Then, in August 2015, we secured a new head office and manufacturing facility in Swadlincote. This marked a turning point for us as previously, First Fence was not a manufacturer and primarily sourced products. Upon reflection, we figured it would make sense economically to develop our manufacturing capabilities. Today, with eight locations and a national distribution center acquired last October, we operate a diverse fleet of 80-to-90 vehicles geared towards enhancing our customer service,” he informs. 

Vinny discusses First Fence’s newly acquired national distribution center, as well as the expansion of its facility in Woodville. “As First Fence continues growing, ensuring efficient stock management has been our key focus. Our unique selling proposition lies in our ability to deliver to customers effectively and exactly when they need it. Yet, we encountered problems with stock distribution between depots, leading to unnecessary vehicle movements and delays in fulfilling orders. To address this, we made the strategic decision to operate a central distribution center last year, which would allow us to maintain significant stock volumes, eliminating the need for transfers in between depots. As a result, we have transitioned to a 24-hour model where we take our orders throughout the day and our depots remain well-stocked to accommodate collections and same-day deliveries. In the evening, after sales operations are finished, we assess what needs to be shipped and transport our shipments to depots, ensuring products are readily available for next-day deliveries. The national distribution center provides us with the flexibility to handle specialized product launches effectively. Regarding our Woodville location, we have invested in rolling mills and automated machines to facilitate in-house manufacturing and give ourselves more control over stock availability and pricing. Still, space constraints have prompted us to secure planning permission for a shed extension, which will accommodate additional rolling mills and provide more office space to accommodate our growing team. However, it is important to note that this is just a temporary solution as we aim to find larger premises that can centralize manufacturing, galvanizing, and powder coating processes under one roof. Consolidating these operations will reduce our work-in-progress times and enhance quality control over our galvanizing and powder coating processes,” he details. 

Striving to encourage more sustainable industry practices, First Fence has introduced a revolutionary, weld-free system. “In our pursuit of sustainability, we’re exploring ways to increase automation while minimizing our environmental impact. All our sites have had solar panels installed this year, and we are currently trialing two electric forklifts in every depot. This initiative allows us to ensure they are working well before potentially transitioning our entire fleet. Additionally, we have developed a new system called EnviroRail, which eliminates the need for traditional galvanized, powder-coated steel railings by introducing a weld-free welding system that doesn’t need galvanizing. This innovation not only reduces environmental impact but is also a game-changer in our industry, offering an eco-friendlier alternative to traditional practices,” ends Vinny. 

Looking ahead, First Fence is planning for expansion into the US market, leveraging its innovative approach and pioneering spirit to drive further international growth.