HotSeat – David Hall, Managing Director at BioCote®

BioCote® has been a market-leading antimicrobial additives provider for over 25 years. In early 2020, David Hall joined BioCote® as Managing Director and is responsible for the day-to-day operations. David comes with over 18 years’ experience in senior management positions throughout the speciality chemical and plastics industry. He is next to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will BioCote® respond?

Most of us love to travel. To faraway places, a weekend getaway, attending a corporate office meeting, or to pursue a new business deal. On planes, trains, automobiles, ships and buses. It is life as we used to know it, but now in the “new norm”, with a heightened awareness of surface contamination and cross-contamination, some of us may be thinking a little differently.

With a more hygiene-conscious society and an increased focus on cleanliness, people are now spending more time sanitising their hands and the products they use. This, in turn, has increased the appetite for the use of antimicrobials within plastic products throughout the transportation sector to help improve general hygiene levels and differentiate each travel experience.

At BioCote® we are working with a range of new partners on novel applications for antimicrobial plastics. Only last year we launched our partnership with Aereos, who were seeking additional protection of their aircraft cabin interior parts to instil greater confidence into the aviation sector by adding another layer of hygiene to support existing, upscaled cleaning regimes.

We are also very excited about being part of the high-profile project AMICABLE, which is focused on developing innovative lightweight composite grab poles with embedded antimicrobial properties. The lightweight antimicrobial grab poles will be used in a wide range of public transport applications, such as bus, rail, underground and tram, including in the new prototype vehicles of the Coventry Light Rail system.

Meanwhile, we are also working with several automotive OEMs and their tiered supply chains in developing the next generation of interior trim components, which can help protect interior surfaces from odour causing, staining and material degrading microbes, for as little as the cost of half a tank of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle.

How has BioCote® developed during your tenure?

I joined BioCote® at the start of the first UK lockdown last year, which has made for an interesting introduction to the business. Despite the difficulties that have presented themselves during the pandemic, we as a business have managed to operate as normal, albeit working remotely or via rotating teams.

Due to a surge of enquiries over the past few years, but particularly since March of last year, we have recently increased our number of staff by over 30%, adding new talent to existing departments and thereby providing improved service levels for our partners and clients.

In addition, we have stepped up our R&D efforts to increase our existing product portfolio and have doubled our capacity to produce our liquid additives through investment in equipment and skills.

We are, of course, continuing to explore further viral testing data for greater depth and knowledge into the efficacy of our antimicrobial additives.

We have attracted a whole host of new partners to our business during the past year, covering new applications and new industry sectors. While growing our business within the UK, we have also seen great growth potential from the U.S. and the rest of the world.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

It always starts with teamwork, and I am very fortunate to have an outstanding team who are hardworking, fiercely passionate, and incredibly talented. I believe in leading by example, and I am keen to promote a culture of openness, honesty, attentiveness, and accountability throughout the organisation.

At BioCote®, we try and make it easy for customers to do business with us. In simplifying the process, our consultative approach guides our clients through the antimicrobial journey regarding claims language, legislation and of course, the technology itself. Our friendly, personable team always try to go the extra mile for our customers, placing them at the heart of our operation.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Over the past 34 years, I have had a few challenges, so it is hard to pick just one.

Relocating to Asia in 1995 to establish a division throughout 13 countries for a former company certainly made life interesting. China and the APAC region were very different in the 1990s, so my time in that part of the world provided me with a fascinating perspective on conducting business while appreciating the cultural differences.

Back on home turf, I helped to successfully steer a business through the 2008-2009 recession, exiting with a stronger business. This posed a big challenge, as sadly many companies within the plastics industry did not make it through this period.

Fast forward to the present date, the amazing team at BioCote® have all pulled together to deliver a record performance throughout a challenging 2020. Despite approaching one year in the business, I have yet to be in the same room with the full BioCote® team, which has certainly made life interesting and required a different management style.

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?

Plastics are considered one of the most important ten inventions in the modern era. Consequently, the market is full of opportunities and new technological advancements, which means that the pace within the industry can be a lot faster than in other market industries. It is safe to say, if you want to succeed, you must be responsive in servicing your customers.

For any new apprentice who is considering getting into the industry, “knowledge equals potential”. Therefore, I would urge them to expand their network with a view of gaining the trust and respect from an expert before asking lots of questions. Finally, throughout life, we often receive promises from someone who stated they would call you back or send you an email, but often they fail to deliver. So, my parting advice is simply “always deliver what you have promised to do”.

What hidden talents do you have?

I am a qualified RLSS lifeguard for emergency response pool incidents and, thankfully, I have only had to put my experience to the test on a couple of occasions. However, in my spare time, my real passion lies in cross-country mountain biking. Despite my work commitments, I still try to get the miles in every week, and I am hoping to compete in the coast-to-coast challenge again, which starts from Whitehaven and finishes in Scarborough.

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