What the MD of ElringKlinger GB would tell the prime minister: back UK manufacturing with actions, rather than rhetoric and political points scoring!
Role and company:
Managing Director, ElringKlinger GB Ltd
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):
2011 Published Accounts: turnover £14,559,000, net profit £2,871,000
Growth forecast for the next three years:
Just less than 50 per cent growth to sales of £21.3m.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
Our focus on quality, exceeding customer expectations and having reliable employment in our area are what defines our business. The ability to offer combined solutions to our customer of shielding and sealing solutions is a unique offering in the marketplace, alongside a local design and development facility.
What's the big vision for your business?
While I am expecting 50 per cent growth in the next three years, I want to double the size of the business over the next five years. The company is a significant employer in Tees Valley and I want to increase that presence and work with the community to develop the skills needed to allow manufacturing to pull the country out of the current recession.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
About 25 per cent of our business is currently export and this is controlled to an extent by the fact that we are part of a multinational group with interests in 20 countries. My plan is to achieve 35 per cent including exporting to countries where we already have a presence.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
I couldn’t single out any one thing, really. Having been in this business for 17 years there have been many ups and downs, the most recent of which was the beginning of the UK recession in 2008, when we got to our lowest employment numbers of 80, working short-time, and really not knowing what the future held. I have learned from all these times, but I think the single most important thing is to have passion in whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, and if that is not enough then the rest is out of your control.
What makes you mad in business today?
Three things; quangos, red tape, and people not doing what they say they are going to do, or simply not responding.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
Engines will continue to run more efficiently and therefore hotter, which will increase the demands on the product that we make. Taking grams out of components will be increasingly important.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow?If not, what can be done to improve things?
I think that access to finance is difficult and the hoops that businesses seem to have to go through are overbearing.
How would others describe your leadership style?
Supportive and open.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
A log cabin in the depths of Northumberland. Not so much an extravagance as a necessity to keep me sane at times - a place to completely switch off and have some quality time with my family.
You've got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK's independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
This is so simple I am unclear as to why it's just not happening.
Back UK manufacturing with actions, rather than simply rhetoric and political points scoring, and look after the future of the UK, not of political longevity, and make the hard decisions. This may mean not being re-elected, but the country needs to get away from two years of tinkering and then two years of political gesturing to try and ensure re-election.
Do the things you said you were going to do; reform the tax system, for example by combining PAYE and NI into a single tax, cut out the overburden of legislation that business faces in all areas, support UK business - yes, at the expense of our European partners - and get someone working to demonstrate the true cost of some of the decisions that have been made, such as Bombardier.
Force the state banks to make funding available, reduce the punitive tax burden on the middle economy and make it fair and straightforward. People and businesses are generally happy to pay their way, providing everyone does the same.