Industry Leaders Share Their Biggest Business Challenges


The last two years have been challenging to say the least. For business leaders, they have had to consider the growth of their businesses as well as the welfare of their employees. 

In this week’s breakfast morning industry leaders from PPG Architectural Coatings, WLR Precision and Carrs Tool Steel share their challenges with diversity in the workplace, retaining staff and the pressure of decision making for senior management. The speakers also reflected on how The Made in Group allows industry leaders to gain access to a network of like minded peers in order to find solutions to these challenges.

With every Made in Group Backing Britain Breakfast Morning, industry leaders from the manufacturing sector learn more and more about the businesses in their local area. Sharing best practices, building professional relationships and sharing stories of success and challenge is vital for the growth and stability of this critical sector.

This week speakers Richard Armour, Manufacturing Director from PPG Architectural Coatings UK, Kevin Callon, Manufacturing Director (MD) from WLR Precision and Andrew Eastwood MD from Carrs Tool Steel took a slightly different approach to speakers in the past. 

Global leader in paints, coatings and materials PPG operates in 70 countries across the world. The architectural coatings division in the UK are proud of their being no gender pay gap in their manufacturing department and have even won a parliamentary award for this in the past. They also take pride in the fact that their management team is equally made up of men and women.

However the issues the business faces is their lack of diversity when it comes to ethnicity and age. Richard said:

“We want to know how you as business leaders deal with diversity in the workplace. What are we losing out on by not having more diversity? And how do you ensure that you aren't in fact positively discriminating?”

It's a well known fact that the UK manufacturing sector is dealing with an ongoing skills shortage. Especially around the fact that it is difficult to find staff with the right skills whilst retaining them. Admittedly PPG addressed the fact that they could pay employees more, however Richard wanted to know how other business leaders engage young people and how they cope with the labour shortage.

Similarly Kevin from WLR also wanted opinions of other leaders within the group, particularly around how directors deal with their numerous responsibilities. As a small family run business with 35 employees and £4.5 million turnover, Kevin often has the pressure of making decisions for the growth of the business. He said:

“Whilst it was a difficult decision, back in 2010 I decided to invest into a bigger facility for WLR. This paid off with more work coming in 2012 giving us the opportunity to invest in more machinery. What I would like to know is how others deal with making these major decisions and how you drive more turnover per employee?”

Rounding things up nicely, Andrew from Carrs Tool Steel discussed why their firm joined Made in the Midlands and the importance of a community of like minded businesses in order to find answers to these questions. He mentioned how when the firm joined in 2017, they were dealing with businesses that were losing business to China and other countries. However, their issue was that they couldn't find similar services in the UK. Andrew said:

“Meeting like minded industry leaders is fundamental to growth, which is why I knew that MIM was the right group for me. Backing Britain means supporting each other and investing in UK products and services. If COVID has taught us anything it is that we are stronger together.” 

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