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David Hester

David Hester David Hester

30 Voices on 2030: What does the future hold?

We used to apply our skills and resources to manufacture products to our customers’ specifications. Now we focus on manufacturing our own products, designed by our own engineers, to solve our customers’ problems. And we no longer simply sell products: We sell our expertise in identifying improvement opportunities for our customers and delivering problem-solving solutions as well as products. This shift was necessary for an island business to compete with companies in lower cost economies which have specialised in sub-contract manufacturing.

Of course, we still need to produce the highest quality solutions and products and provide value for money. Our customers trust us to partner closely with them and support them with their business challenges and opportunities.

We have doubled our revenue and profit over the past ten years but only increased our workforce by half that amount; meaning we are more productive. This improvement is partly related to advances in technology (for example, one new machine can do the work of three older machines). But also, our people have become more creative and agile in the way they work, embracing this new level of technology and automation (for example, a skilled machine operator can now run several machines where we used to have one operator per machine). The manual content of our work has greatly reduced; and most employees now work with equipment, machines and software that automates the routine and repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on improvements in quality and efficiency and in building teamwork and collaboration.

Ten years ago, we were heavily biased to providing products for the oil, gas and chemical industries. These products were of the highest quality, ensuring leak-free performance at extreme pressures and temperatures. Over the last few years we have diversified into other sectors such as semiconductor (we provide products and solutions for the manufacturers of silicon wafers used in the integrated circuits of all our electronic devices) and renewable energies (we are supplying fuel system equipment for Hydrogen vehicles and hydraulic equipment for wind turbines). We have also embraced additive manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing) technologies to enable greater design freedom, allowing for less material usage and waste. This has reduced our carbon footprint and environmental impact while continuing to provide our customers the products and solutions they require to improve the quality of life of their customers and consumers.

Our ability to adapt our business to the changing needs of our customers has come from our obsession with looking ahead and being proactive. We listen intently to our customers and work closely with them to understand their direction of travel such that we can support them with their challenges and opportunities. Even when our customers seem very happy with our quality, delivery and cost, we have proactively looked for better ways of doing things and for the next technology or consumer preference such that we can stay ahead of our competition. And although we are a design and manufacturing business, we pay close attention to our employees and work very hard to ensure that they have an excellent working environment and that we can provide them meaningful and purposeful work.