Advanced Plastics, operating from their modern and highly automated facility in Hull, provide a diverse range of technical injection moulded products to their portfolio of blue-chip clients. Joint Managing Director, Chris Pearson, has been with Advanced Plastics for over 12 years, during which the company has enjoyed an impressive period of growth. Chris is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Advanced Plastics respond?
Perhaps unsurprisingly I believe we will see a period of adjustment, both positive and negative, as larger businesses define their strategies following Brexit, we just have to hope this produces more opportunities than casualties for UK manufacturing as a whole.
I believe we will continue to see a shift in the type of plastic products we produce. There are many UK plastics companies engaged in the manufacture of component parts for end-user products which have a limited remaining life as legislation, and consumer awareness drives a positive move towards cleaner solutions.
User interface technology such as touch screen and voice recognition will eliminate the need for traditional mechanical parts and switchgear, every new product I observe entering the market has a reduced part count over the incumbent product, something as component manufacturers we need to be aware while.
Advancements in technology are not only applicable to the products we produce but also the way we produce them with automated smart factories set to become the norm in the future.
Advanced Plastics is already responding to these challenges with a strategy for market diversification and a focus on components for greener technologies. We are also investing heavily in smarter, cleaner and more efficient manufacturing solutions.
As trends move at an increasingly faster pace, it’s important that we embrace them and always have one eye on the future!
How has Advanced Plastics developed during your tenure?
In many ways Advanced Plastics is unrecognisable from when I joined in 2007 at the start of the economic downturn, we have developed at a steady pace and in a controlled manner whilst maintaining our core values and building on our position of a respected technical injection moulder.
The business has developed in so many ways, the following are a few tangible examples: from 16,000 to 65,000 sq. ft premises; from 25 to 200 staff, from £2.5M to £20M sales; from 10 injection machines to 40; from manually biased production to over 30 six-axis robot cells; from a largest machine size of 450t to three machines in the 1100t – 1500t range; from manual material handling to centralised feed system; from ISO9001 to IATF16949; from little recognition to multiple industry awards.
On a less tangible level, Advanced Plastics has transitioned from being a small business to a medium-sized business while maintaining our flexibility and a high level of customer service. This comes from building on our core values and developing the right culture to ensure we remained successful throughout this period and to create the right platform for continued growth into the future.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
There are many things I credit as being the key to my success; I guess it started during my early years with a good up-bringing and the lesson that if you want something you have to work hard for it.
My entry into the plastics industry as an Apprentice Toolmaker in the North East in the late ’80s continued that ethos of working hard with an equal measure of playing hard thrown in, creating many happy memories!
Between my apprenticeship and joining Advanced Plastics I spent 16 years with a Japanese owned global injection moulder where I learned many valuable lessons from both the successes and the challenges we faced, the different management styles and cultural differences, these lessons have all stayed with me and been influential in my decision making as the co-owner of a business.
I couldn’t have made the move to buy-into Advanced Plastics without the support of my wife, selling her retail business and our family home, relocating to East Yorkshire and moving into rented accommodation with three young children in tow, I guess she believed in me! Equally the support of my then-new business partner Rob Anderson and outgoing shareholder Peter Thompson, both founders of the business, who were key to making my venture a success.
Having joined Advanced Plastics, an early recognition that as business owners ‘you can’t do it all yourselves’ led to the gradual development of a senior management team and in turn the development of their own respective teams as the business grew, it is without doubt that each team member makes the business the success that it is, we couldn’t be successful without them!
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Seeing something heading towards failure and initially being restricted from doing anything about it.
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?
I don’t wish I’d had any different advice to what I did on entering the industry and that doesn’t differ from the advice I would give today – work hard, listen, learn, treat people with respect and enjoy yourself!
What hidden talents do you have?
Completing large scale DIY projects to exacting standards, it’s when the Project Engineer and Toolmaker in me get a chance to come out to play!