Hardie Polymers are the UK’s leading independent and award-winning polymer distributors in the injection moulding sector. Owner & Managing Director Fergus Hardie joined the company back in 1987 as a junior sales rep. Fergus has now been heading up the company since 1999, and remains actively involved with material sales. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Hardie Polymers respond?
The current media feeding frenzy on plastics that has been raging in recent months clearly seems set to impact a number of areas particularly the packaging sector. Like most in our industry, I share the absolute frustration over the media’s failure to clearly present the facts to the public. I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out where we can, to highlight the many benefits of plastics over alternative materials. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just issued a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5 C. One of their guidelines to the world, is that we should demand low carbon in every consumer product. Plastics is a low carbon enabler in so many ways and without it I am certain our battle against climate change would already be lost.
At Hardie Polymers we work with some highly innovative material producers from across Europe and can provide solutions to some of these environmental challenges. For example, we are currently working directly with a number of the UK’s automotive OEM’s, to find applications for new light-weighting grades, natural fibre filled grades and metal replacement grades. All of these have environmental advantages and benefits.
How has Hardie Polymers developed during your tenure?
We have a long history dating back to 1924 when my Grandfather and his brother founded the company. I would like to think that they would be pretty proud of the growth we have achieved in recent years as we have significantly grown our sales and also our customer base – which is about 9 times larger than it was just 6 years ago!
What do you credit as the key to your success?
Without doubt, an outstanding team of people: fiercely loyal, hardworking and highly innovative. And also some very clever marketing advice I picked up a few years ago!
Our key now is the really vast range of polymers that we can supply and in any quantity.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Ten years ago, in 2008, we were really struggling. We had lost our principal material supplier and our local customer base in Scotland had been decimated. We were holding our heads above water but it wasn’t comfortable and it certainly wasn’t sustainable! With the amazing support of our team, perseverance and hard work we turned it around into the profitable business we are today.
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?
Don’t ever underestimate yourself and what you are capable of.
What hidden talents do you have?
Not a bad skier – trained a bit with Graham Bell and the British Downhill team in my younger days!