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HotSeat – James Cook, Managing Director at PCE GROUP

Formed in 1961, PCE Automation have established themselves as a market leading supplier of automation solutions. In 2018, PCE Automation completed the acquisition of db-automation and Premier Bowl Feeders, to form the PCE GROUP of Companies. Managing Director James Cook has been with the company for over 32 years, joining as a Director in 1987. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will PCE GROUP respond?

Not so much a trend, but I believe we are already seeing the UK being recognised as an area of excellence, with regards to our plastics industry. The investment and growth within the UK, despite the current political landscape, is testament to the quality and expertise, that as a sector, is world leading.

The PCE GROUP is perfectly in tune with this world leading status, offering affordable quality engineering solutions, which are built to last. We work with our customers to ensure we are Your automation partner…

How has PCE GROUP developed during your tenure?

The PCE GROUP has brought together like-minded businesses, management and employees, who are not only ambitious; but are united in our goal of working together to engineer a bright and secure future, through automation.

Our highly skilled in-house teams possess all the attributes of years of engineering experience, such as Software Programming, Electrical & Mechanical Design, Fabrication, CNC Machining, Electrical and Mechanical Assembly, Project Management & Technical Authors.

We are also part of the New Anglia Youth Pledge and our apprenticeship scheme is a vital and valued part of the GROUP philosophy, as we seek to encourage new talent into engineering.

Our skills and growth have positioned the PCE GROUP at the forefront of the Ocular & Medical, Life Sciences, FMCG and Build to Print market sectors, within the UK and globally.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Goldman Sachs and their wonderful GS10KSB program has made me realise not to just ‘Think Big’ but to ‘Think Bigger’. I completed the program as Cohort 4 and for me this was a real game changer, to learn and develop alongside likeminded business leaders.  As part of the 10KSB alumni, it is a constant source of inspiration and guidance and something I feel incredibly privileged to be associated with.

I am also extremely lucky to be surrounded by such talented people at the PCE GROUP, who share the same values and drive our continued success through their everyday hard work and commitment, which enables us to continuously evolve as a business.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

I often hear people talk of not enjoying their work, or people counting down the days to retirement, which saddens me and is a dreadful shame.  I personally love engineering and relish the unique challenges that each new day brings.

My Grandfather started the company in 1961 and I stand by his original ethos, which was to simply “work hard and play even harder.”  However, in this modern era there is a better understanding of stress and burnout, so to recognise these early signs in oneself or colleagues is paramount.

It is an ongoing challenge for me to keep developing this skillset, but a challenge which I am committed to, alongside our engaged workforce.

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 feel fortunate that I have always had good advice and that great careers can be built within engineering. Unfortunately, it has not always felt like the UK government, or British Media, have always shared this view; but I can see evidence that this is slowly starting to change.

The message to our new apprentices would not change and would be:

The PCE GROUP take pride in seeing our solutions making a real difference to the quality of people’s lives. There has never been a better time to be an engineer, embracing i4 and the IoT methodologies.

What hidden talents do you have?

I am not sure about hidden talents, but I do have the burning desire to build upon the PCE GROUP brands, PCE Automation Ltd, db automation ltd & Premier Bowl Feeders, promoting all that is great in the United Kingdom.

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