Here, we catch up with Sandra Rountree, Corporate Sales Manager at Biochemica Water Ltd – now part of VWT UK. In particular, we cover Sandra’s background, her current role, and what the water treatment chemicals company has to offer its customers.
Firstly, can you give us a brief overview of Biochemica?
Biochemica provides water and wastewater solutions to a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, fine and speciality chemicals, and manufacturing. We also offer services that include Legionella control, steam boiler treatment and wastewater treatment.
Can you tell us about your education and career path?
After leaving school, I went on to complete a degree in Medical Chemistry from Queens University Belfast, followed by a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry. After that I got my first job as Product Development Manager for Zenith Hygiene, based just outside Belfast, where I was involved in the research and production of cleaning chemicals.
In 2012, one of our raw material suppliers mentioned that he knew the previous owners of Biochemica, and that they were looking for someone to lead trials for a major food and beverage manufacturer in Northern Ireland. I decided to meet with the Biochemica team and it was the best decision – I haven’t looked back. I worked for a year in Northern Ireland before being offered a position in the North East, which I jumped at.
Your current role with Biochemica is Corporate Sales Manager, what does that entail?
I look after a number of our key accounts and group contracts across the UK. That entails everything from day-to-day account management to the production of quotations for work on those accounts. I also play a role in helping to grow the company’s sales via new business, which can involve anything from introducing the company following a recommendation or corporate tender processes.
Biochemica is involved in multi-site contracts for some of the UK’s largest food and beverage producers. Can you tell us about some of the company’s you work with personally?
When I moved over to the North East one of the first projects I was involved in was the KP Snacks Group Contract bid, which we went on to win. As KP used to be linked to pladis (as part of United Biscuits) a natural progression led to us being introduced to and tendering for a couple of pladis sites as well, where Biochemica was again successful. Both of these contracts have been with us for the past seven years.
We also look after the Group Water Treatment contract for Greggs Manufacturing sites. This began when we gained the contract for one site in Newcastle, where we were really able to prove our worth. Since then we have been able to collate a Group wide contract after securing the rest of the Greggs UK and Northern Ireland locations.
Why did those companies and others choose to work with Biochemica?
I like to think that companies want to work with us because we provide a friendly, personal service and are able to generate quotes and supply products relatively quickly in comparison with other larger companies. Within the Biochemica team, we also have experts covering a range of varying areas from steam boilers to wastewater, as well as a wide repertoire of chemicals. As a result, we are able to provide a wide offering to companies, often allowing them to streamline their supply chain.
How has COVID-19 impacted your day to day work?
I used to go into the Biochemica Head Office when I wasn’t travelling for the day but now I am mostly working from home. However, I do still get to visit local customer sites, and in terms of workload it has been business as usual. For many of our customers, in the food and beverage sector especially, continual production throughout the pandemic has been key. When visiting a site there are now increased restrictions, but it is worth it to ensure everyone’s safety – and to be able to chat to my customers face to face again.
What is the most common issue that you help your clients resolve?
Keeping on top of paperwork and ensuring that it is filed correctly so audits are as simple as possible is probably the most common issue we assist our customers with. The online systems we can offer, only strengthened by now being part of VWT UK, really help us to do so effectively, and is one of our USPs as a company.
Finally, a fun fact. What is your all-time favourite TV show or film?
A TV show I could watch all day, every day is Friends, and my absolute favourite film is Kill Bill!
For more information on Biochemica Water Ltd., please visit: www.biochemica.co.uk