HotSeat – Martin Kirkham, Managing Director at Rapid Colour Services

Rapid Colour Services is a leading independent manufacturer and supplier of technical custom colour and additive masterbatch solutions to the thermoplastics market. Martin Kirkham has spent over 25 years with the company, in positions ranging from Laboratory Technician to Managing Director. Martin is next to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Rapid Colour Services respond?

Colour has an emotional impact on our everyday life and it will not be removed from our daily routine, despite environmental pressures. As an industry, we need to continue the transformation into a circular model both from a legislative perspective and an ethical one.

Rapid Colour has developed masterbatches that are manufactured from renewable and recycled feedstocks that are ready to be used in a diverse range of applications. Many people wrongly assume that only black products have issues with being recycled, but this is also true with many coloured articles. We have expanded our RapidSort range of NIR-compliant black and colour masterbatches allowing improved recycling compatibility and will launch the RapidSure scheme this year. RapidSure is a certification that can accompany each new colour masterbatch we generate to demonstrate its compatibility with UK recycling facilities.

How has Rapid Colour Services developed during your tenure?

I have had three separate periods of employment at Rapid Colour, totalling over 25 years. Starting as a Laboratory Technician in the business in 1990 through to Managing Director in 2019, so I have experienced many changes in the business.

We have transformed hugely over our 30 + years in manufacturing. From a small lot manufacturer with one production line, working eight hours daily, through to a 24 hour/5-days a week manufacturer. We have become a market-leading manufacturer who proudly exports throughout the world.

During my two years as Managing Director, we have installed two additional production lines to increase capacity by 40% and support the growth we have experienced. We will never lose sight of our name “Rapid Colour Services” – it’s what we are known for.

We have seen a shift into larger volume markets in recent years, with 5,000-kilo orders now much more commonplace.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Having a genuine passion for the company and what we do best. Being visible regularly and throughout the business is key to becoming a successful leader, along with being able to understand and empathise with each employee and understand their importance to our success.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

The global pandemic has changed us all forever. Having the conviction to invest in significant capacity investments whilst in the grip of the first lockdown was a real test of nerve.

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?

When I entered the industry, I was in awe of people who had a long history within the industry and their skills. I thought I could never be as successful and knowledgeable. As I travelled through my career, it became apparent that age and experience did not need to be a barrier to success and that I knew more than I thought I did. I would advise anyone joining the industry now to think big, they can make a difference and their input and skills can bring new ideas to any company – their future is limitless!

What hidden talents do you have?

Annual winner of Ramsbottom’s most injured mountain biker, despite taking huge precautions to prevent accidents.

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