HotSeat | Andrew Lawrence & Shaun Champion

HotSeat | Andrew Lawrence & Shaun Champion

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Following the combination of two of the UK’s premier contract moulders to create a multi-site, multi-competence business, their leaders, Shaun Champion of Talisman and Andrew Lawrence of Merriott Plastics, decided that joining their companies wasn’t challenging enough. They wanted to take a turn in the PlastikMedia HotSeat… 

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics?  How will the newly linked Merriott Plastics and Talisman respond?

Andrew – I would highlight the urgent need for trained talent in our industry; helping to secure skills for the future – many of which currently seem in jeopardy.  New technology such as AI, Industry 4.0 and the emerging demands of the sustainable economy will undoubtedly create pressure through all levels of society. Many industrial processes will also become very transparent and clear to buyers, OEMs and consumers. All plastics processors still need to maintain our ‘edge’ and our value-added services.

Shaun – Agreed. Part of that is the ability to retain creativity and the thinking outside the box – to consider multi materials; composites; thermosets and recyclate as well as thermoplastics – which we can now of course achieve with our newly merged group – and with machines that perform up to 1100t locking force! I agree with Andrew that – despite the apparent advances through Industry 4.0 and AI – people still need services and products from people.

How have your companies developed during your tenure?

Shaun – Talisman has doubled its turnover and built a great team over the 5-6 years whilst I have been MD. We have also invested heavily in equipment and the building, reaching a stage where we needed to look outside of Talisman to grow even bigger and stronger. This merger creates real opportunity to continue our journey, whilst providing customers with even more choices.

Andrew – In the words of the song ‘We’ve only just begun’ – literally a matter of days. Our newly merged group will offer several new strands for the future; not least in our ability to meet the upcoming demand for localisation. The age of jetting about is quickly coming to an end. Customers are willing to pay for value added and niche expertise – less so for logistics, transport and non-core activities.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Andrew – Here I think we have to talk about the success of the recent merger – which always involves walking a bit of tightrope in order to get all parties over the line. Needless to say we believe that all entities will integrate to form a fantastic fit for the supply of the UK’s industries in automotive, defence, electrical and many more. …

Shaun – Agreed. For two such important legacy businesses in UK plastics, the successful completion of terms was itself quite an achievement. It has been encouraging for all parties to succeed in the art of the deal.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Andrew – We face it now! Over the past 15 years or so the Merriott Group has successfully acquired and integrated many other businesses. This current merger eclipses that activity by some way. Nonetheless, we are very experienced in locating and concentrating assets for the benefit of the business and the customer.

Shaun – In a similar vein to Andrew – and somewhat fortunately – this isn’t “my first rodeo” in company acquisitions and in reshaping operations towards new and improved commercial horizons. I am looking forward very much to the next chapter and what we can now achieve together across all facets – creative, technical and commercial…

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?

Andrew – I entered the industry as a compression moulder and progressed through various departments over the years. I was fortunate to learn from experienced people and also put in some situations where I had to learn very quickly. This helped me to appreciate how different departments and different people come together to form a successful business. I would tell someone starting out now to learn as much as possible from a good team of people and don’t be afraid to take your chance to progress when it comes along.

Shaun – I guess I consider myself lucky to have qualified as an engineer in the plastics industry then going on to complete intensive training in both sales and marketing. This I think is a great skill set to have, particularly in the current climate. The customer must believe you are providing the right solution before any project can progress successfully.

What hidden talents do you have?

Andrew – I played football for 25 years and although my team mates would probably say that my talent was questionable. It did make me appreciate being part of a team.

Shaun – I spent many years helping to train young people to complete the Dartmoor Ten Tor challenge. This not only means I can walk 25+ miles in day but more importantly I have learnt how to get the best out of young people! I also have quite a talent for clearing blocked sinks.




Merriott Group
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