Gateshead-based GB Lubricants may have been serving the forestry industry for some seven decades, but it is only in the last five years that the sector’s true potential has been realised, with word of mouth, social media and a strong relationship with the Forest Machine Operators Blog helping the long-standing company grow its presence. Here, Lorraine Smith, sales executive, speaks to Forestry Journal about what GB Lubricants can offer the industry.

Forestry Journal: Lorraine Smith.Lorraine Smith.

Q. What is the history of GB Lubricants?

A. Since its very formation in 1877, GB Lubricants has always been customer-focused. Of course, over the past 143 years we have evolved and invested to meet the changing requirements of the industries we serve. That includes ongoing investment in technology and manufacturing capability, etc. However, at its heart GB Lubricants is still driven by the customer and ensuring they get the right product, at the right time, to the right location, wherever they may be in the world.

Q. What does GB Lubricants specialise in?

A. GB specialises in the development, manufacture and supply of high-quality lubricants, many of which are approved by leading equipment manufacturers.

Q. Where are you based? How big is the GB Lubricants team?

A. Our manufacturing base is in Gateshead in the North-East of England. The GB team numbers 50 people.

Q. What sectors do you serve?

A. We serve a wide variety of sectors including agricultural, forestry, off-highway plant, commercial vehicle, automotive, industrial, and blue light amongst others. We have a large client base within the forestry sector and currently blend chain oil for leading manufacturers within the industry.

Q. What is the reach of the business?

A. We supply nationally to all parts of the UK and Southern Ireland, and have a rapidly growing export function that distributes around the world.

Forestry Journal: The company is based at a 10,000 sq. m site located in Gateshead, with modern laboratory and testing facilities.The company is based at a 10,000 sq. m site located in Gateshead, with modern laboratory and testing facilities.

Q. Can you provide an overview of the GB product range?

A. The GB product range of oils and greases is forever expanding! It consists of fairly simple low-treat mineral oils up to sophisticated synthetic products with an array of OEM approvals. Over the years the range has become more diverse, with the introduction of specialised products developed to meet the individual demands of different OEMs. We have a dedicated biodegradable range that incorporates many products required by forestry customers.

Q. What are the current talking points in the oil market?

A. Environmental legislation is always a big talking point, and often the key driver to the introduction of new specifications and associated lube oils. Corporate social responsibility is becoming a key talking point, and to us that incorporates our entire supply chain.  Electrification, and the new demands this puts on lubricants, is also a hot development topic for our technical specialists at present.

Q. What products do you supply into the forestry sector specifically? What is there demand for?

A. The biggest demand is for our chain oil, which we believe, listening to customer feedback, is one of the best on the market. We also supply engine oils, greases, hydraulic oils, AdBlue and gear oils within the forestry sector.

Q. What do you have to consider when creating forestry products?

A. There are many considerations when developing new products, not least of which is the ability of the lubricant to actually perform its desired function and protect the hardware in question. Environmental acceptance is clearly a major factor when looking at new formulations and raw materials for the forestry sector; this incorporates good biodegradability, non-pollution and sustainability.

Forestry Journal: GB Lubricants has a 1.5 million-litre bulk storage capacity and warehousing for 700 internal pallet spaces, with plans to increase to 1,200 spaces.GB Lubricants has a 1.5 million-litre bulk storage capacity and warehousing for 700 internal pallet spaces, with plans to increase to 1,200 spaces.

Q. What challenges and opportunities does the forestry sector present for GB Lubricants?

A. The forestry sector has given GB a fantastic opportunity to grow, mainly through word of mouth and our existing customers’ recommendations. Going back five years, many forestry companies hadn’t heard of GB Lubricants and it was difficult to sell a product that nobody had heard of; but since we overcame the initial hurdle of supplying our chain oil within the sector, our customer feedback has been fantastic and the majority have committed to continue using our product.

Q. How does GB Lubricants stand out against its competition?

A. I can only go by customer feedback and I would say that our chain oil is one of the best on the market. I think that comes down to the tackifier and anti-fling properties in our chain oil. It’s a good viscosity, high-quality chain oil, and most importantly, of consistent quality. Typically, a lot of chain oils on the general market won’t use a virgin base oil, which we do, so a lot of our chain oil customers will say that they have been using other brands and feel like they don’t get any consistency with the oil.

Q. Are there any common misconceptions when it comes to oil?

A. Oh, yes indeed, and that is why we work closely with our customers in providing both education and technical support.  ‘Any oil is better than no oil’ is a commonly heard phrase, and it is simply not true.

A lot of damage can result if an incorrect lubricant is used. Also, just because a lubricant is described as biodegradable or environmentally acceptable doesn’t mean that it should be used in the forest.

With lubricants in many applications we are reducing friction and levels of wear in the equipment. This in turn is prolonging the life of that equipment and reducing energy usage. Modern lubricants incorporate so many next-generation synthetic base oils and additives in order to achieve longer drain intervals and performance levels that their connection with simple base oils is increasingly removed.

Q. What achievement are you most proud of in terms of the work you have done?

A. Although GB has supplied to the forestry sector for over 70 years, in the last five years especially GB has made a big name for itself within the sector. Our products, especially our chain oil, have become a firm favourite within the industry and it is an industry where our product is being highly recommended to others by our end users. I would confidently say GB is now the market leader within the UK for its chain oils. The APF Exhibition has been a great platform for GB to promote its products and we will be attending the show again in September 2020.

Q. What are your hopes for the future of the business?

A. We are proud of our history at GB, but more importantly our commitment to serving the sectors where we see success. In the forestry sector particularly, we have invested heavily in brand awareness, marketing and expansion as we know our products are highly regarded as industry leading.

Q. Any plans for expansion, further training, new investments?

A. GB is investing in its infrastructure and capability in order to expand and grow in an ever-changing market. We continue to invest in new technology to increase the efficiency of our service, be that telemetry for remote tank monitoring at customers’ sites, through to vehicle tracking and route planning. It’s important that, as a key member of the supply chain into the sector, GB supports the training and development of young people entering the industry, and we have supported an apprentice scheme in conjunction with some of the leading forestry industry names such as John Deere, along with Forestry and Land Scotland.

Q. How would you sum up the company ethos of GB Lubricants?

A. Quality and integrity in everything we do.

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