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Queens Enterprise Award winning manufacturer strikes positive note during Covid-19

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Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown:

Hi, it's Steve Brown from your Euro Projects Recruitment. I'm delighted in the midst of the negativity of the Coronavirus pandemic to have some positive news to bring to you. I'm joined by Mark Runciman, Managing director of Eminox. Eminox is an engineering company that has recently been awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise. And we thought it would be nice to share their story and what the company is doing and how they have benefited from a Queens Award.

Mark, if you'd just like to tell us a little bit about yourself perhaps first and also about your background and what this means to the company.

Mark Runciman:

I originated from an aerospace background, more sort of corporate work for Goodrich Aerospace, I worked for United Technologies and Rolls-Royce in a joint venture that’s pretty much my background and then work beyond that corporate world in a number of SME’s, Steve. And then in the last five years I have been working at Eminox.

Eminox is a heavy duty after treatment business, we've got two predominant value streams; we've got retrofit, which is taking older vehicles and taking them up to the latest Euro 6 standards and also we've got an OEM value stream in the business, but more recently an aftermarket value stream. We've in business now for 41 years. Last year we celebrated our fortieth anniversary, were a privately owned business part of the Hexadex Group.

I’ve been here for five years for what is quite a unique and interesting turnaround story from when I first arrived here.

Stephen:

Fantastic, and you've actually got the business in good shape to win the Queen's Award and also to survive this far through the Coronavirus pandemic Mark. What did it actually mean to the business to receive this Queen's Award?

Mark:

I think its fantastic Kudos to everyone in the business. It's a great marketing tool for the business to really sort of go out and exploit the market and really showcase what we've done as a business. So historically, the turnaround for I go to the business was we were a loss making business just over four years ago. And we've had 130 percent growth across all of our value streams, predominantly the area for that was OEM.

The way I describe it is, we were a retrofit business that did some OEM work. And we’ve flipped that business model that we're an OEM business that is now supported by our retrofit value stream.

And what has come with that, and what was won us these awards is our commitment to process capability, our investments in people and capital equipment supported by the Hexadex Group,so for us, the Queen's Award really is kind of the cherry on the cake.

Unfortunately, we received the email on the day I sat at my desk and finally, understood what Covid really meant and what it was going to mean for the business going forward. It was such a bittersweet moment, but I think as we are coming of that crisis management, we’re able now to start to talk about this and begin the celebrations of the good work that we've done in the past. And those principles and those methodologies are going to be what's going to get us through this situation.

Stephen:

Yeah, definitely. What do you think it means to the workforce as a whole to be part of this Queen's Award?

Mark:

I think that everything we've ever done in the business we've tried to share across the business. We've tried to be as inclusive as possible. My background as, you know, I've worked my way through the ranks all the way from Team Leader, all the way through to Managing Director. So for me flat organisations are really important. And what comes is that is you share the successes. So whether it's a success in wellbeing or whether it's, you know, success of the P&L or a trophy or any other thing, you know, we've always tried to make sure that it's been something that we as a group of achieved and we then share that success.

Stephen:

And you've hit upon something that I've recognised working with Eminox as closely and for as long as we have. You've brought a very inclusive culture to Eminox from what I've observed. And you've got lots of very good things going on I see on a regular basis. You did an Ergo challenge, I believe, recently. So you're involving everybody. I mean, what do you see as one of the key benefits of engaging your team in that way?

Mark:

For me, if I look at it holistically over the last four years, it's been about a sense of we can, we can achieve, but to support that I've always tended to attack it from a different area. And it's always been one fail we all fail mentality. For me I just think that brings a level of inclusivity and it's a no blame culture. You know, as long as you do your best in your part as a team and you come in with an open heart and you are engaged in what trying to do and whether that's be well-being, whether it's through the lean activities, the goal deployment that we've developed or the Oliver Wight that we've invested in.

You know, that's an approach that for me, I think brings everyone together. And this is a sense that we can, and a sense of team. I always use a saying that many hands make light work. People say how have you achieved so much in such a short amount of time and its because we've all pulled together.

Stephen:

Well its testament and great that you've got the let's say, the royal stamp of approval really in the Queen's Award.

I mean, I suppose what we wouldn't miss talking about is how you've managed through the Covid-19 crisis. There's a lot of businesses that would probably be interested to know how you've coped and come through to the point now where you're looking to the future again. What’s it been like for you and what have you done?

Mark:

We have had to show a level of fluidity,  we've gone from what was growth to all of a sudden to go into crisis management.

And I think that shows the flexibility and unity within the business. I mean, principally what we looked at across the Hexadex Group with the support of Andy Meakin, my boss at Hexadex was cash. Cash is king in this situation. And I think going through this year, you know, that's going to be the thing that takes businesses through this difficult time and then sets themselves back to relaunch it and go again.

I can't fault the government support, the government didn’t get everything 100 percent right but I think they’ve been learning as they go along. Now, if I can use the quote of Alan Sugar, I think that they’ve learned as they’ve gone along, but the furlough support has been fantastic. And it's allowed us to have a realistic look at the order book of where we are at the moment. And now we're in a situation where I think we're coming out of that crisis management and starting to look beyond where I was a month or so ago; where I was, as you know, I couldn't look beyond days going into the weeks, whereas now we can start looking at the weeks going into the months.

So that's been the approach that we've had. And true crisis management is that, you know, you can't look beyond the end of the week and so much is fluid.

Stephen:

Absolutely. And it's certainly felt from my point of view, you know, a day felt like a week. A week felt like a month. In dog years or should I say Covid years we've aged quite a lot in the last few last few weeks and months.

Mark:

I think everyone's bottle bank has definitely been increasing rapidly. I think there has been a certain amount of that. It's been a very, very unique situation.

Stephen:

Yeah. So other than maybe the diversification of setting up a brewery at Eminox. What is the long term picture that you seek for the company? And, you know, the post virus long term view?

Mark:

I mean, the aspirations are what they were before, we're just looking at this as its a temporary glitch. It's something we've got to manage. And then, we go back to the plan and the strategy, you don't develop a strategy with a view that it's going to go a hundred percent all the time. We're in a situation now where we've had a bit of a blip but we’ve got to go back to the strategy, which is we set up a joint venture in China, we're looking at a sales office in Asia Pac.

We have the view of setting up another joint venture in India in Puna. So that's still very much on the cards, it might get pushed a little bit into the long grass for now. But it's still a view that that's going to happen. The markets will come back whether they comeback as strong in the short term, that's yet to be seen. We've got diversification within the business, we’re starting to get into aerospace fuels market now with a collaboration between ourselves Johnson Matthey Davy, BP and Fulcrum. Looking at taking refuse waste and turning that into kerosene for the aerospace industry, which I think post Covid we're looking for a new cleaner world. And I think people don't want to go back to where they were. We’ve got lots of opportunity in our retrofit in the combustion engine world because we have got an alternative to electric,

It's not that long standing, but it's a bridge. And we’re starting to look at hydrogen as well and we can see a partnership with businesses there. So that's where we're looking.

We've had a bit of a blip. But you know what? We'll get back to that.

Stephen:

Really, it's such a great thing to not only hear about a company that has done so much with its people, with its market and customers to get you to the point where you've won a Queen's award and you’re actually being part of what we're all looking for in the green recovery. So it's really it's really impressive to hear this, Mark. Thank you very much for taking the time to share that with us today.

Well, thank you very much, Mark. We wish Eminox all the best. And if anybody would like to contact us to hear more, perhaps, of what I Eminox or other clients that we're working with, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

This is Steve Brown from Euro Projects Recruitment, supporting you and your business until you're ready to recruit again. All the best and bye for now.

Thanks Steve

Thank you, Mark.