In Focus: Justin Kerslake

About Justin Kerslake

Born in Bristol, Justin attended Benton Park School in Leeds before going on to attain a BSc (Hons) in Management Science at the University of Manchester.

He later added a CIM Diploma in Marketing and various business and management qualifications to his list of academic achievements.

Justin started his working life in marketing at John Laing before joining industrial chemical manufacturer ROCOL where he progressed through the departments to become managing director, leaving in 2008. Following some time with Bunzl, a hygiene distributor, Justin then entered the world of commercial laundry, joining JLA as consumables national sales director.

In October 2016 Justin took on the role of key account director at Christeyns UK, based at the head office in Bradford. Key responsibilities included the Johnson Service Group and the sales leadership role for Christeyns’ specialist Gentle Care division, Cole & Wilson. Since joining the firm Justin has been instrumental in growing industry partnerships and championing sustainable initiatives within the business.

He currently heads up ‘Project Terra’ which aims to look into all aspects of the UK business in relation to sustainability and the environment. Justin also plays an active part in the TSA, with whom Christeyns UK are a Premium Supply Partner. In his spare time, he likes spending time with his family and enjoys outdoor activities including running, cycling and hill walking. The most recent addition to the family is a Cockapoo named Keira.

On his industry career…

I entered the laundry business when I joined JLA to head up sales for the consumables part of the business. This wasn’t a massive change in role from my previous one at Bunzl just different types of consumables and most of my career had been around chemicals and hygiene. A business re-focus at JLA then led to me joining Christeyns in 2016 and I haven’t looked back since. In November 2019 I was appointed operations director for Christeyns UK, succeeding Dave Aveyard, little did I know that I would be called on to lead the laundry business through the massive upheaval of the pandemic, on top of the issues surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The key elements of my role ultimately involve retaining our customer base and driving the continued success of the commercial laundry business. I oversee the engineering division and the part it plays in using expertise to apply our chemistry, the end result being to optimise customer wash processes.

On sustainability….

The world is changing rapidly, as the recent COP26 highlighted. The impact our industry has on the environment is not insignificant, both in terms of the resources it uses and the environmental effects of wastewater as well as the chemicals being discharged throughout the laundry processes. We have already made great steps forward in terms of reducing water and energy use and looking at more sustainable chemical formulations. But there are more marginal ideas coming to the fore, such as recycling of fibres from old textiles and the next generation of chemicals.

There is no doubt that the raising of concerns at COP26 will lead to new legislation that will impact utilities and carbon footprint, there are also issues around the security of the energy market and the cost increases this will bring. So, more needs to be done. These sustainability challenges facing the industry are however an opportunity to provide cost effective, environmentally-aware solutions to help customers get on track. The right combination of equipment, programming and chemicals can reduce a launderer’s impact on the environment as well as having a positive effect on the bottom line.

It is a significant challenge that we have been handed and not one to be taken lightly. It should incentivise and inspire the next generation to get involved, and we, as an industry, can be part of pushing things in the right direction.

Justin Kerslake with Richard Turvill, Camplings Laundry (left) and Charles Betteridge (centre)

On industry developments ….

Ours is an industry that is evolving all the time. Innovation both in the chemistry and technology is ongoing, bringing constant change and we need to work to keep up, keep ahead where possible. It makes for a diverse, interesting and often challenging environment, but never dull. Sustainability and technology are the two main issue issues that are driving change. Innovation in technology has led to a more multi-faceted role for suppliers.

We are no longer just chemical suppliers, we now need to provide systems advice, water and energy expertise, installation, training and servicing. The power of data has led to companies like Christeyns having increased influence over the smooth running of commercial laundry set ups, presenting a skills gap on the laundry floor.

This transfer of information and knowledge means suppliers now need to invest time and find opportunity to pass this on, the question is how far do we go with this? We have to make information more accessible for customers, dovetail the technology along with the other services we offer so that clients can be wiser quicker. We are looking at upskilling account managers with new tools so that they are more able to interpret data to make informed decisions. To this end, our role is now one of a partnership with customers and as such we have invested a lot in IT and growing our training facility.

The ultimate aim being to drive innovation and to deliver our customer needs for tomorrow. The other issue for the industry is that of its people, ensuring the right skill sets and expertise levels. We have an ageing workforce, the challenge is now to bring on new, younger people without losing the expertise gained over years of experience. We have to ‘sell in’ the industry to the younger generation, with a focus on its diversity and innovation and the important role it plays in daily life, in helping people live in a safe and hygienic environment.

Christeyns run a number of initiatives that support their local Bradford community

On industry collaboration…

We are very much involved in the work of the TSA and other bodies promoting development and cooperation in the industry.

Through our support of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, work in the community with schools and colleges, we strive to spread the word about the positive future of chemical manufacturing and help channel the workforce of the future. Over the past few years Christeyns has worked to develop closer partnerships with other suppliers in the chain, in particular linen and machinery suppliers.

This increased collaboration means we are able to identify and resolve issues quicker, which provided benefits all round. With our customers, we often work as part of an external supplier team, where all parties involved in keeping things operational discuss current issues and how to best provide solutions. This has obvious benefits for everyone and helps to reduce unnecessary costs. It is imperative that the industry keeps up, continues to innovate and does not get left behind.

Increased communication amongst the industry sectors, developing more useful partnerships and taking responsibility for acting on the current challenges is something we must all put our minds to. At the end of the day, it’s the people and their passion for the industry that will keep it moving forward.

About Justin Kerslake

Born in Bristol, Justin attended Benton Park School in Leeds before going on to attain a BSc (Hons) in Management Science at the University of Manchester.

He later added a CIM Diploma in Marketing and various business and management qualifications to his list of academic achievements.

Justin started his working life in marketing at John Laing before joining industrial chemical manufacturer ROCOL where he progressed through the departments to become managing director, leaving in 2008. Following some time with Bunzl, a hygiene distributor, Justin then entered the world of commercial laundry, joining JLA as consumables national sales director.

In October 2016 Justin took on the role of key account director at Christeyns UK, based at the head office in Bradford. Key responsibilities included the Johnson Service Group and the sales leadership role for Christeyns’ specialist Gentle Care division, Cole & Wilson. Since joining the firm Justin has been instrumental in growing industry partnerships and championing sustainable initiatives within the business.

He currently heads up ‘Project Terra’ which aims to look into all aspects of the UK business in relation to sustainability and the environment. Justin also plays an active part in the TSA, with whom Christeyns UK are a Premium Supply Partner. In his spare time, he likes spending time with his family and enjoys outdoor activities including running, cycling and hill walking. The most recent addition to the family is a Cockapoo named Keira.

On his industry career…

I entered the laundry business when I joined JLA to head up sales for the consumables part of the business. This wasn’t a massive change in role from my previous one at Bunzl just different types of consumables and most of my career had been around chemicals and hygiene. A business re-focus at JLA then led to me joining Christeyns in 2016 and I haven’t looked back since. In November 2019 I was appointed operations director for Christeyns UK, succeeding Dave Aveyard, little did I know that I would be called on to lead the laundry business through the massive upheaval of the pandemic, on top of the issues surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The key elements of my role ultimately involve retaining our customer base and driving the continued success of the commercial laundry business. I oversee the engineering division and the part it plays in using expertise to apply our chemistry, the end result being to optimise customer wash processes.

On sustainability….

The world is changing rapidly, as the recent COP26 highlighted. The impact our industry has on the environment is not insignificant, both in terms of the resources it uses and the environmental effects of wastewater as well as the chemicals being discharged throughout the laundry processes. We have already made great steps forward in terms of reducing water and energy use and looking at more sustainable chemical formulations. But there are more marginal ideas coming to the fore, such as recycling of fibres from old textiles and the next generation of chemicals.

There is no doubt that the raising of concerns at COP26 will lead to new legislation that will impact utilities and carbon footprint, there are also issues around the security of the energy market and the cost increases this will bring. So, more needs to be done. These sustainability challenges facing the industry are however an opportunity to provide cost effective, environmentally-aware solutions to help customers get on track. The right combination of equipment, programming and chemicals can reduce a launderer’s impact on the environment as well as having a positive effect on the bottom line.

It is a significant challenge that we have been handed and not one to be taken lightly. It should incentivise and inspire the next generation to get involved, and we, as an industry, can be part of pushing things in the right direction.

Justin Kerslake with Richard Turvill, Camplings Laundry (left) and Charles Betteridge (centre)

On industry developments ….

Ours is an industry that is evolving all the time. Innovation both in the chemistry and technology is ongoing, bringing constant change and we need to work to keep up, keep ahead where possible. It makes for a diverse, interesting and often challenging environment, but never dull. Sustainability and technology are the two main issue issues that are driving change. Innovation in technology has led to a more multi-faceted role for suppliers.

We are no longer just chemical suppliers, we now need to provide systems advice, water and energy expertise, installation, training and servicing. The power of data has led to companies like Christeyns having increased influence over the smooth running of commercial laundry set ups, presenting a skills gap on the laundry floor.

This transfer of information and knowledge means suppliers now need to invest time and find opportunity to pass this on, the question is how far do we go with this? We have to make information more accessible for customers, dovetail the technology along with the other services we offer so that clients can be wiser quicker. We are looking at upskilling account managers with new tools so that they are more able to interpret data to make informed decisions. To this end, our role is now one of a partnership with customers and as such we have invested a lot in IT and growing our training facility.

The ultimate aim being to drive innovation and to deliver our customer needs for tomorrow. The other issue for the industry is that of its people, ensuring the right skill sets and expertise levels. We have an ageing workforce, the challenge is now to bring on new, younger people without losing the expertise gained over years of experience. We have to ‘sell in’ the industry to the younger generation, with a focus on its diversity and innovation and the important role it plays in daily life, in helping people live in a safe and hygienic environment.

Christeyns run a number of initiatives that support their local Bradford community

On industry collaboration…

We are very much involved in the work of the TSA and other bodies promoting development and cooperation in the industry.

Through our support of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, work in the community with schools and colleges, we strive to spread the word about the positive future of chemical manufacturing and help channel the workforce of the future. Over the past few years Christeyns has worked to develop closer partnerships with other suppliers in the chain, in particular linen and machinery suppliers.

This increased collaboration means we are able to identify and resolve issues quicker, which provided benefits all round. With our customers, we often work as part of an external supplier team, where all parties involved in keeping things operational discuss current issues and how to best provide solutions. This has obvious benefits for everyone and helps to reduce unnecessary costs. It is imperative that the industry keeps up, continues to innovate and does not get left behind.

Increased communication amongst the industry sectors, developing more useful partnerships and taking responsibility for acting on the current challenges is something we must all put our minds to. At the end of the day, it’s the people and their passion for the industry that will keep it moving forward.

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