‘Amazing customers drive our own innovation’

Tony Hague is CEO of PP Control & Automation and former chairman of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), a collective of nine manufacturers and an engineering design agency who collaborate to win work and achieve operational efficiencies.

We work with some incredible customers, doing amazing things and that in turn drives our own innovation. The variation of working with clients in so many industrial sectors and seeing the adoption of new technology and innovation within UK manufacturing.

It’s been an amazing journey to date at PP Control & Automation, having been at the business 19 years and seeing our growth over that time – often against very turbulent economic backdrops. When you look at it by numbers we have grown from 36 people to 230 staff, completed three factory extensions and, most importantly, developed a world class employee engagement culture that encourages individuals to grow and achieve more than they ever thought possible. It is incredibly satisfying to see.

The rate of new technology development is increasing at a rate of knots. This is leading to rapid product development and opportunities to partner with emerging businesses that need support and help in scaling up. We are well placed to support the entire process of design for manufacture, value engineering, supply chain modelling, product approvals and full manufacture.

UK manufacturing is incredibly resilient. Fairly obviously, but I have to say the impact of Covid-19 on global manufacturing is the big issues affecting our sector at present. Different markets have been affected in different ways and recovery and growth will therefore vary dramatically.

In addition, we still have Brexit negotiations to conclude, one way or another – so it has been very challenging times to say the least. However, I firmly believe that new opportunities will come out of all of the turmoil and a newfound sense of collaboration will drive future growth and prosperity for the nation as a whole.

It’s time for #ukmfgunite!

The rate of change in manufacturing is amazing. If you take how far controls and automation providers have come and the capabilities available compared to only a few years ago it’s truly staggering. At PP C&A, we have invested in 3D CAD modelling, new IT infrastructure, automated test equipment, fully automated cable harness manufacture, new visual management and communication tools.

The power of five. We developed our ten core values some years ago and they fall into five categories; WOW customers, Passion & teamwork, Learn & drive change, Be adventurous, Have humility. These core values are at the heart of what we do, how we behave and influence the decisions we make.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s be authentic.  Don’t try and be someone you are not, treat people how you wish to be treated and be open and honest – do not attempt to “sugar coat” bad news.

Equally the importance of communication and the misconception that it has been achieved. The amount of times you see problems arise from the fact that communication has been misinterpreted, hence the importance of asking the right questions.

Everyone needs a plan in place for growth. Over the last few years, I’ve starting reading more ‘business-related’ books (wish I had started earlier) and had the chance to work with some great business coaches – all of whom I have taken something different from.

Patrick Lencioni, who wrote such books as ‘5 dysfunctions of a team’ and ‘5 temptations of a CEO’, really resonates with me, as it helped me understand the massive importance of people and the complex relationships that exist within an organisation and how they can either support and accelerate growth or hinder it. In addition, I am a great fan of Verne Harnish and ‘Scaling Up’, which we adopted at PP C&A…it provides us with a methodology and structure on which to plan our growth.

I’m hooked. Fishing is the one thing that gets me away from the phone and laptop and I simply relish the tranquility of it.