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HotSeat – Martin Coles, Co-founder & Managing Director at Matrix Polymers

Matrix Polymers has grown organically and by acquisitions to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of raw materials to the rotomoulding industry. Managing Director Martin Coles co-founded the company over 27 years ago. Since then, they have expanded globally and now have six production sites across the globe on three continents. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

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

There will be more and more focus on the impact of plastics on our environment and certain parts of the wider plastics industry will be hit hard by this, particularly those in the packaging sector who are making single-use products.

Matrix is a specialist supplier of raw materials to rotational moulders (rotomoulders) and one feature of this process is that the products made are nearly always durable and designed for multiple use and to be in service for many years.

We are spreading the word that the plastics industry is much broader than the single-use sector and actually has a major positive role to play in supporting and improving the environment. Some of our customers are moulding products such as waste recycling banks, litter bins and containers used to collect waste, whilst many are producing products for the automotive sector which is leading to lighter vehicles and reduced fuel consumption.

Plastics make a massive contribution to all our lives, often in an unseen way and I think it is essential for all of us in the industry to spread this positive message whenever we can.

How has Matrix Polymers developed during your tenure?

I co-founded the company in Northampton 27 years ago and we were a start-up with 2 people. Now we have around 200 employees around the world with compounding and grinding factories in the UK, Poland, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. We supply around 60,000 MT of materials a year to rotational moulders and are growing rapidly, particularly in Asia.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

We have managed to maintain our total focus on just producing and supplying materials for the rotomoulding sector and I believe this concentration has been vital for our success. Every market is very competitive and customers have lots of choices. The fact that we are so focused means that our customers trust what we are talking about and have a lot of confidence in the products we supply them.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Developing a fantastic team of people. Our people are by far the most important asset we have, and we put a lot of resources into making sure that we recruit the right people, train them properly and motivate them.

It is an on-going and dynamic process and I believe that ‘people’ is the biggest challenge for any business.

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?

It’s essential that everyone in an organisation is a Team Player and we must all respect our colleagues, customers and anyone we come into contact with. We must all be humble, show intelligence and common sense and be hungry to progress and succeed. We are always looking to recruit people who fit this profile.

When I joined the industry 33 years ago the work environment and values were very different.

What hidden talents do you have?

I’m tenacious, persistent and don’t give up. You need all of these qualities to build a successful business.

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Matrix Polymers
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