HotSeat – John O’Brien, Managing Director of the Fibrax Group of Companies

Established in 1902, Fibrax has become a leading force in the global supply of rubber and plastic mouldings. John joined his family’s business in 1992 as a plastics and rubber specialist. In 2004, he was appointed managing director of the Fibrax Group, and has actively promoted growth and innovation across all areas of the company in both the UK and new global territories. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

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

In an effort to create an agile, responsive and efficient supply chain, manufacturers across all sectors are increasingly seeking to work with OEMs that can fulfil a range of needs. Inevitably, this is reducing the need for multiple suppliers and companies are having to innovate to keep up with this demand.

Fibrax originated as a rubber moulding company but in the 1990s we progressed into rigid plastics. Whilst we have been doing this for some time, we are now realising the great advantages of being able to overmould (2 shot) rubber and TPE/TPVs onto rigid substrates, as this significantly extends our production capabilities and enables us to support our customers in both automotive and non-automotive industries. We have seen this as a great way of adding value.

How has Fibrax developed during your tenure?

I assumed the role of Managing Director of Fibrax Limited in 2004 and at that time we were based solely in Wrexham, North Wales with a turnover of sub £6m. In just under 15 years, we have opened manufacturing facilities in Sanok, Poland and Casablanca, Morocco. Across these three sites, we now employ over 400 people with a turnover of £20m (2017).

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Our entire team is committed to meeting the needs of our global client base, often assisting them in the development of their products. By driving growth, we are able to invest in our people, technologies and facilities. This continued investment enables us to realise greater opportunities and respond efficiently to customer demands.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Keeping calm when not all is going to plan!

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 embarked on a career in engineering through a simple desire to make things that work! Growing up, the example I was set was very much focused on getting on, so I was well supported to progress with my goal. I have always worked to find the right solution with the understanding that everything can be improved. I advise new design engineers that their first ideas might not always be the best; what they must do is work without limitations as only by pushing boundaries will they truly innovate.

What hidden talents do you have?

Professionally, visualising how we can make products in a different way has certainly helped my career.

Personally, some might say my talent lies in my ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime!

fibrax logo

Fibrax Limited
+44 (0)1978 356 744

Subscribe to our newsletter