I’m not the biggest fan of LinkedIn. It’s good for certain things, but other platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been more useful to me. One feature I do like however is the ability to write longform posts on LinkedIn. A few in our industry use this rather than posting their thoughts in a small status update. It allows people to expand their thoughts on a matter when a post won’t quite do it.

I read one of these longer articles earlier on today and loved it. So much so I wanted to give it a bit of spotlight here on DGB. The article is by Aluminium Shapes CEO Joe Martoccia, and he explains that although he was a clear remain voter in the EU Referendum, he sees some clear potential to help fire up the UK economy post-Brexit. This was the article published, with permission given to post on DGB:

Those that know me or follow me on Twitter are in no doubt which side of the Brexit fence I sit, a clear remainer. In fact, post the vote, I was depressed for a good few weeks, no other macro-political event affected me in such a way, turns out, I wasn’t alone.

I haven’t joined the hoards of people on Social Media calling for a U-turn and demanding a challenge to the vote, I take the view that we live in a democracy and we live or die by elections and referendums. This is a fundamental.

The truth is that since the Brexit vote, UK manufacturing has performed and continues to perform strongly. Yes, the reduction in the value of Sterling as a consequence of the vote helps, making our goods and services more affordable, but I see a steely determination among large UK based companies and especially in SMEs, to drive their businesses on. That amazing British grit, determination, resilience and Dunkirk spirit which sets us apart from most other nations.

Our business, Aluminium Shapes Ltd, an aluminium extrusion and component business is no exception. Whilst we only acquired the business late February 2017, our figures show an almost immediate jump in sales post the Brexit vote in mid 2016.

We are proud to work with a number of UK based manufacturing businesses, which belong to Global enterprises. An encouraging theme is the repatriation of manufacturing back into UK plants from Chinese and other Asian plants. This is truly amazing to me, someone who grew up up in a time when millions of manufacturing jobs went East, it was the conventional wisdom. Currency isn’t the only factor, productivity in UK Plants is every bit as good if not better than equivalent plants in the Far East, but the theme most prevalent, is quality. British quality manufactured products are in demand across the World.

So, is the outlook that rosy for us? Could it possibly be a new dawn for UK manufacturing? I think yes, however, we need to be alive and aware to a few areas of concern.

Potential Skill shortages – particularly in engineering and manufacturing. We need a coherent, deliverable and simple plan to help us get a new generation of skilled workers. I believe the current education system largely ignores preparing youngsters for vocational skills training, I also believe it is up to industry to make skilled production roles more attractive to potential candidates.

Productivity – We should resist the temptation to rest on our laurels, we should strive for improved productivity to maintain our competitive position. Investment is the key, in people as well as plant. This is high on the agenda at Aluminium Shapes Ltd.

Political instability – Whilst largely out of our control, we do need a period of stability in Westminster. Regardless of the colour of your politics, I believe a Government with a narrow majority, as we have today, will by its very nature deliver a much more balanced and inclusive approach to policy and law making. So maybe the election wasn’t such a bad thing for the country.

So, heads down and charge manufacturing SMEs, we will be the powerhouse of the new, post Brexit economy.

DGB Features

Clear window industry potential

For those who have followed my coverage of Brexit and the window industry, you may know I voted to leave. But I respect completely Joe’s decision to remain. So although we differed on our voting preference, I agree with every single word Joe has written in his piece. And I fully share his optimism that SME’s in the window industry can help power this industry forwards. Especially given the danger the likes of Entu finds itself in right now, and the reported struggling sales of major national businesses. The news coming out of many small and medium sized fabricators and installers is the opposite right now, with sales strong, leads high and records being broken.

I do very much agree though that SME’s across all sectors will be the driving force of the UK economy in the coming years. As we know in our own industry, the bigger the company is, the harder it is for them to adapt. There’s structural, logistical and cultural changes that can take years upon years to change. Smaller business, in our case installers and fabricators, are able to adapt to change far quicker. Restructure their businesses in a way to make the most of the opportunities out there, of which there are still plenty, Brexit or no Brexit. Speak to a small or medium sized installer or fabricator right now and I’d wager their performance so far this year has been pretty good and their outlook is positive too.

That being said, there are a number of bumps in the road as Joe mentions, with the much talked about skills shortage one of them. We’re aligned when it comes to thoughts on our education system ignoring those who may be interested in a trade. Productivity is something we can control, but I guess Government is a little out of reach for us. We just have to hope that they can deliver for us. I actually agree with Joe that a minority Government will be more balanced in their approach, thanks to increased pressure from other political parties.

So, onwards and upwards all you SME’s, the window industry is counting on you!

Thanks to Joe Martoccia for letting me re-use his content for DGB.

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