Not many firms can say they employ hundreds of team members who are doing incredible things. Fast-growing Bradford Airport Logistics, a firm critical for keeping airports safe from terrorism, collects 300 success stories each year through an innovative scheme for recognising employees who delight its customers.

Bradford Airport Logistics runs centralised receiving and distribution centres that are critical to the efficient operation of airports – such as London Heathrow – and very important to their security.

Multilayered vigilance

Airports function like mini-cities these days, and Bradford helps to prevent scenarios that can seriously disrupt their smooth running. Tight controls of delivery agents and material goods entering the airport reduce the risk of terror attacks, such as truck bombings and the smuggling in of prohibited items.

Bradford reroutes delivery trucks and parcel carriers away from the terminals and congested roadways in a timely manner to a central inspection and consolidation facility, where a multilayered security and inspection process occurs.

Consolidated effort

Bradford then ‘consolidates’ goods into delivery zones, bringing the materials to the terminal through its secure material delivery tunnel, greatly reducing the number of delivery trucks and people who enter the airport. Bradford usually reduces the number of delivery trucks and runs into an airport by 60%.

Custom technology makes the difference

In collaboration with stakeholders, Bradford’s programmers have developed millions of lines of code for its airport material intelligence system (AMIS), which enables real-time command and control to ensure that goods are delivered in an efficient, synchronised and highly secure fashion. The system brings visibility to the entire operation to prevent anomalies from occurring, and guaranteeing operational excellence. Bradford has achieved a track record of 100% contract renewals over its 15 years of existence.

As one might imagine, the employees who work in the receiving and distribution centres are critically important to Bradford’s success. "Bradford is not just doing a job," says CEO and founder, Ben Richter, "it has a much greater mission, which is to help airports run well."

Tokens of appreciation

Special numbered coins were designed and minted to make workers feel appreciated. Every year, members of the company’s executive and local management teams, and airport stakeholders get to give one out whenever they catch someone at Bradford doing something ‘incredibly right’.

The coin system was introduced to make it easier for company leaders to underline what matters. "You get to give only one coin each year to a deserving employee, so everyone is looking to do great things," says Richter.

Once the coins are distributed, the company writes up the stories of the team members who received them in its global newsletter, shares them in town hall meetings, and considers the winners for annual awards it gives out, greatly improving morale and service levels.

Moved to tears

In addition to the coins, the company also offers a Shepard Award, for ‘creating fanatic customer fans’. Employees nominated by customers and facility managers are eligible. A recent winner at Heathrow Airport was sent on an exchange programme with the facility that Bradford manages at San Diego International Airport.

After discussing the trip with colleagues at a meeting, he excused himself and left the room. "I got to the hallway and he was in tears, literally, just recalling how much his whole journey has meant to him as a person," says Richter, who also felt choked up.

Respect is due

Bradford Airport Logistics was recently named as a 2016 Supplier of the Year for Heathrow International Airport in the category of Treating Everyone with Respect. Heathrow employs more than 76,000 workers.