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Leadership & Mentoring

Welcome to our latest manufacturing specialist

Our new Manufacturing Advisor Stephen Booth describes how he assisted his last employer to double manufacturing output over the last four years, and how the skills and knowledge he applied there, developed over an enviable manufacturing career, can help other manufacturers achieve the same success.

I’m lucky to be joining GC Business Growth Hub’s Manufacturing Service having had a long and varied career of 50 years in engineering and manufacturing. Hitting this milestone seems like a perfect time to start giving back to the sector, so I’m excited to be joining such a great team of experts to help SMEs grow and succeed.

I started off my career as an apprentice electrician. After I got my degree in electrical engineering, I took a job as an engineer for Procter & Gamble in Germany, which is where I developed a passion for working in manufacturing environments. From there, I worked as a project engineer and then engineering manager at what is now the Heineken brewery in Manchester, before moving onto various production manufacturing and factory manager roles in the beverage, dairy, packaging, textiles, and chemicals industries.

All in all, I’ve spent around half of my career in an engineering discipline and half in operations, so it’s fair to say I know my way around a factory!

Achieving success in a small business

Having worked at blue chip companies for most of my career, the first time I experienced life in a small business was eye-opening to say the least. I learned so much more about running a business rather than just running a factory. As I’m sure any SME manager will attest to, it isn’t easy!

In my last role, I was factory manager for a small manufacturer here in Greater Manchester over four tumultuous years, taking in EU Exit and COVID-19. In that time, I faced many of the same barriers to growth that other SME manufacturers have experienced:

In my first summer, I organised a weekend where we emptied the factory completely, labelled up all the racking spots and identified, weighed and recorded every individual ingredient back into the ERP system.

I worked with management to make sure information between the office and shopfloor flowed correctly, re-wrote almost everybody’s job description and conducted performance and development reviews.

I wrote a bespoke Excel programme that allowed us to predict product pricing by feeding in changes to each ingredient’s cost, before engaging with Made Smarter to transition to an improved ERP/MRP system that could automate the process.

Finally, we bought stock in bulk and found additional space for storage to ensure supply, while making sure we were still as lean as possible and had a clear plan to wind down our stock holding as supply steadied.

Despite all the disruptions we faced, we managed to double the output of the company in four years.

I want to work with SMEs to show that this sort of success is possible even when things seem incredibly difficult, as is the case today.


Strength through diversity

The great thing about working in the Hub’s Manufacturing Team is that we all come with different experiences and backgrounds that add an extra dimension to our skillset. Some of us have strengths in data analysis and procedure, while others have expertise in certain manufacturing sub-sectors or specific methodologies.

My personal strengths are in employee engagement, factory management and organisational development. In my experience, solving most issues in manufacturing boils down to creating a culture that is open to change and new ways of doing things.

At the same time, I’m an engineer by discipline, so I’ll understand how your machinery and processes work and be able to identify ways to run them more efficiently.


It’s an exciting time

There are a lot of challenges facing manufacturers at the moment – economic downturn, inflation, energy costs, supply disruption, access to skills, I could go on – but there are a lot of opportunities too.

Digitalisation, sustainability and other emerging developments offer a bright future ahead for those with the right preparation and culture in place, and that’s exactly where the Manufacturing Team can make a difference.

As well as our one-to-one advice and support, I’m looking forward to teaching on our fully-funded courses – Production Leader, Lean Champion and Made for Manufacturing – to help as many SMEs as possible put their best foot forward for this exciting future.

If you’re looking for excellent support to grow and become a more successful business, get in touch with the team today.


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