HotSeat – Phil Jones, Technical Director at Intelicare

Intelicare is the trusted UK partner for leading European suppliers of thermoplastic handling, heating and cooling technology. With humble beginnings as a travelling service engineer and his van, Intelicare has enjoyed impressive growth in recent years, now with more staff and an ever-growing product catalogue. The original van man, Phil Jones, now Technical Director, is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

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

Rightly or wrongly, current trends are partly driven by consumer demand and media perception, such as now with the inclination to steer away from single-use plastics. But will this particular perception change again? Do we know and understand the true costs of alternatives?

Despite (or perhaps because of) this, the need for improved efficiency and reduced environmental impact, as well as healthy competition, is a long-term driver in new technologies and I think we’ll continue to respond as an industry with exciting answers. In this way, we can help shape the future of our industry, rather than being shaped by perceptions which haven’t been researched properly. This was apparent during K2019.

One of the areas we’re responding is with Bausano and WPC (Wood Plastic Composite), which is an eco-friendly answer to many building and architectural requirements. Bausano has created complete extrusion lines specifically for WPC. WPC is a mixture of organic material (wood dust, avocado stones, rice husks, almond shells, cork and other vegetable scraps) mixed with polymers such as PVC and PE. It’s durable, weather-resistant, maintenance-free and impervious to rotting, UV rays and insects finding it tasty as they would with plain old wood. Its applications include decking, flooring, wall cladding, doors and door frames, garden furniture, fence panels, etc. Not only that, but WPC is completely recyclable, and can be recycled and extruded to be converted into new products. It doesn’t require chemical treatments and allows for fewer trees to be cut down.

How has Intelicare developed during your tenure?

I started Intelicare as a service company – I was a man with a van (before becoming men with ven). We travelled around the country servicing Birgahi and Boy machines, before moving on to whole factory maintenance.

It developed organically from there: while I was in factories customers would ask if I could supply x, y or z, usually material handling equipment, so I went into partnership with New Omap to start providing ancillaries. The enquiries picked up and customers started asking about chillers and temperature control units. I met Frigosystem in Italy and started representing them in the UK & Ireland, supplying to the customers I’d been working with to service injection moulding machines as a starting point.

As the sales got busier, I took on more staff and found myself spending less time servicing and more time visiting, swapping my toolbox, flask and van for a laptop, fancy/noisy espresso machine and office.

With more staff, we were able to branch out into different areas, and we plotted a course for composites. Most recently we’ve gone into partnership with Bausano to provide complete extrusion lines, which we supply with our Frigosystem chillers and New Omap ancillaries. The projects are getting bigger, which is exciting.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Great people and great suppliers. We have a range of people here with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, and it really helps further our cause and adds our own value to things. Paul, for example, can’t change a lightbulb but started ranting at me from the get-go about SEO and a whole manner of other acronyms that have helped us progress as a business. We’re a self-motivating team and as a result can focus our energy on growing our business, even if the area over Paul’s desk is still dark.

Our suppliers are brilliant. They make excellent equipment and we get on with them really well as both friends and colleagues – we’re very lucky.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Finding people from the previous question! Finding people that have a relevant background, or equally important, people who are willing to learn something entirely new and technical, has been difficult. Whether that’s sales or service work, it’s not just finding someone who either knows their stuff or has an aptitude for learning new stuff, it’s finding someone I’m willing and happy to represent the business, something I’ve worked hard to build over many years. As difficult as it is, it remains an ongoing process as the business expands and we take on bigger and more complex projects – so it’s a nice problem to have and one I’m grateful for, in a way.

Another challenge has been moving from service work to where we are now, which is sales and project management. It’s involved an enormous effort in ways of working over the years, working long into the nights and at weekends to get the business to where it is 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?

Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

What hidden talents do you have?

I’m a qualified skipper, which means I can captain a yacht, whip the crew into shape and make an array of sailing puns. (Skipper Phil, pictured!)


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