The Stotto Group specialise in colour measurement, providing methods and instrumentation that help you control and understand the colour and appearance of your products. Stotto represent HunterLab in the UK and Ireland, and have looked after industrial customers for over 30 years. Director of Sales & Marketing Tom Stothard joined the company 10 years ago. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Stotto respond?
I am amazed and impressed with the amount of innovation that has been carried out in the plastics industry in the last 10 years, especially in what I would call technical plastics.
I think companies will shift towards making useful replacements to everyday objects. For example, turf and grass. Not everyone wants to have the maintenance issue that come with having a natural lawn, so the plastic industry has developed a perfect replica that addresses that issue. The same applies to traditional decking. When built from wood it becomes slippery unless maintained; fades and becomes rotten. The plastic industry has developed something that addresses all of those issues and actually provides the consumer with value for money and something that will last, looking good for years to come.
Stotto actively work on, and develop, the appearance of these innovations and assist manufacturers in bringing a product to market, as well as keeping it consistent. Our customers benefit from our services in Marketing, NPD and R & D all the way through to manufacturing, stability and shelf life testing.
How has Stotto developed during your tenure?
We started as a family business and have grown exponentially as Stotto, with the same values and customer service my late father instilled in us. We insisted we continue to act as a family business that cares and does its best for clients. I believe this has enabled us to grow where others seem to have fallen and disappeared. Our customer base has tripled, and we are working at a steady, average growth rate of 30% each year, which is brilliant.
I love the way the stresses of growing a company are rewarded and we look forward to making clients happy for many more years to come. That said, I cannot wait to have my children in the business – that would be the real win for me.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
Delegation and letting things go. I am one of those people who thinks it will be easier to do everything myself but, after a couple of years of delegating work to the team (that are actually better than me at doing it) things have gone from strength to strength. As a result, there’s also a lot less stress on me now!
As a team, we all believe diversification is extremely important as it safeguards your livelihood for years to come.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Developing a business that requires customers to truly understand what it is we do, and the potential value offered – without necessarily knowing the service/ support exists. We support the Plastics industry by measuring quality, measuring acceptance and measuring right/wrong. Frequently the defects can’t be spotted without the testing we offer – overcoming the challenge of making people aware of this has been key for us.
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 was not a lucky person when I entered the industry. Sadly, my Dad died quite suddenly and there was no real structure to transfer knowledge about the business and its customers. We started from scratch with many months of work just to find out who our users were!
I would recommend becoming a generalist in many areas. The idea of specialising in one area and relying on it for a profitable business is old fashioned. Not only did I have to work with customers to earn money, I spent many days a week working on accounts, procurement and legal.
So, my overall advice would be to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible and if you’re not a people person, ensure that someone in your team is!
What hidden talents do you have?
Well, I am not sure you can call them talents, maybe experiences?
– Milking cows
– Driving tractors
– Train building (and driving!)
– Skippering boats
– House building
– Being dad to two beautiful daughters