Export Champion Interview

1
Aug

July Export Champion Interview Spotlight

In July’s monthly round up of Export Champion interviews we learn more about healthy water crackers, fish and chip equipment, and innovative 3D virtual world and cloud solutions.

Interview | Nicola Herbertson | CEO

 How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?

I applied to join the first cohort as we have always seen the commonwealth as a key market for our innovative products and services. When I got the email about the opportunity to apply to join the second cohort, I reapplied because of the growing awareness and interest in our innovative and socially responsible 3D virtual reality…

 


Read full interview at:
http://www.commonwealthfirst.org/export-champions/profiles/3dnovations

 

Interview | Victoria Hopkins | Managing Director

 What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?

We have spent the past few years investing in our manufacturing department both with new machinery and implementing a Lean culture – which resulted in increasing our production capacity by 20%. I am a advocate of innovation and now we have the right foundations in place we are able to not only develop our existing business but look at diversifying into new markets…

 

 

 

Read full interview at: http://www.commonwealthfirst.org/export-champions/profiles/hopkins-catering-equipment-ltd

 

Interview | Abby Smith | Sales Manager

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?

In 5 years time we would like to have doubled the size of the business including having established a US office. It’s important to us that in 5 years time the Rakusen’s & Bonn’s brand have a base of distribution Canada & Australia from which we can grow. Another key aim for the next 5 years to establish a string name for Rakusen’s as a Gluten free supplier both in the UK & abroad. This is something we’ve been doing well for 30 years & need to shout about more…

Read full interview at: http://www.commonwealthfirst.org/export-champions/profiles/rakusens-ltd

31
Mar

March Export Champion Interview Spotlight

This month we learn about the home of ‘The World’s Original Marmalade Awards’, fibreglass composite structures, innovative fire safety solutions and hospital and healthcare medical lighting.

12
Jan

Paul Jeffrey, Managing Director, Avon Barrier Export Champion Interview

Export Champion Interview Series

 

Paul Jeffrey, Managing Director

Paul Jeffrey, Managing Director

How did the idea for your company come about?
We have been going for nearly 30 years so it is more evolution than anything else but we do have a desire to provide solutions for some of the world’s worst problems and feel proud to be able to provide protection (albeit limited0 against terrorist attacks.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Cashflow has always been the issue whether it is expanding or contracting.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Time to identify real opportunities and then be able to focus on them, inviting the world into your business creates a lot of traffic.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your company?
Become a genuinely international company, we are not a UK exporter so much as an International Business with its head office in the UK. Getting the mindset right for the business is critical to succeed in the international arena.

What has been your most exciting project so far?
We designed and installed the vehicle toll plaza’s on the Jamuna Bridge Project in Central Bangladesh some years ago, the project was described locally as the Miracle of the Jamuna Bridge

Have you been able to measure how effective the Avon Barrior products are?
We undertake testing against vehicle impact (7500kg at 80kph) as well as ballistic testing to BR6 and BR7 and blast testing (100kg explosives).

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How did you hear about the CommonwealthFirst programme and what made you apply?
UKTI local rep was told about the initiative and passed the details to us to apply, we already work internationally and certainly with Commonwealth members so the fit seemed right.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
We hope to be able to contribute some of our experience as well as take out some of the international links.

What is a typical working day for you?
Start at 8.30 finish at 7.00 and then the usual continuous email / WhatsApp / text streams out of hours

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
We will be the biggest in our specialist market and the market leader in physical protection against terrorist attacks.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Be prepared to live and breath the business and ensure that you employ good calibre younger staff that you can (and must) delegate to. The right calibre must be able to mirror your own work ethic.

Is there anything exciting you would like to share?
We are working on a major high profile European project at present but we cannot explain further as most of our projects need to remain confidential.

 

This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.

 

6
Jan

Export Champion Interview: Darren Jones, Founder – Knowledge Management & Transfer (KM&T) Ltd

Export Champion Interview Series

 

How did you hear about the CommonwealthFirst programme and what made you apply?
Completely by accident! I had a meeting cancelled at a conference and ended up talking to a UKTI defence expert. He took my email. 6 months later he emailed me details of the programme just 3 hours before the application deadline.

How did the idea for KM&T come about?
The usual gap in the market spotting. It was obvious most consultancy business ended up delivering reports, not results. We decided to be far more delivery based in bringing operational excellence. It turns out ROI is important after all.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The single biggest barrier is getting a hearing. Once we get in front of a potential client we can show them what we have done for others and what we can do for them. Getting through the door of the big corporates is tough. With most of our global clients being household names like NHS England, Rolls Royce, Downer EDI and Shell Oil, its far easier these days.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
It’s a big world and our challenge is not to be kids in a sweet shop. We work in sectors as diverse as rail, health, marine, private equity and FMCG, we could run around the world meeting people all day every day but going nowhere. We also need to focus on areas where we can deploy our people with minimum bureaucracy and hassle with visas and work permits.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your company?
The two keys to our success have been, firstly, never compromising on the quality of our people. If we are going to assist in bringing operational excellence to the biggest and best organisations in the world, we always must have the best people, with the best skills.

The second key was being global. By setting up on 4 continents we minimised our exposure to regional economic cycles. Our choice of a predominantly Commonwealth footprint served us well in the Global Financial Crisis. Australia and Canada held up well allowing us to grow globally whilst our competitors shrank.

How do you measure your impact?
It’s all about results. Ensure you get a return on Investment for your client. Make sure that the clients staff love what you have done and value it. Ensure that the efficiency and quality we bring to our client sites is embedded and sustainable. All these things can have metric put to them. Assign those metrics on day one.

What does a sustainable return on investment mean in your work?
ROI does not have to have a £ or $ in front of it. But it usually does! We have helped listed companies regain their credit rating, hospitals save £10m’s in year. We’ve delivered operational turnarounds for PE companies that have resulted in $100m’s upside and we’ve even save a Ministers job by bringing a project back on track. The sustainability is the key though. Everyone involved need to understand that and want to maintain that. We often save 7 f and 8 figure sums for clients in year. We like to do what KM&T stands for “Knowledge Management and Transfer”, with a big focus on the “T”, if we do that they save that 7 figure sum year after year.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Primarily KM&T would hope that the CWF programme helps us get access to companies and governments we have struggled to engage with. We will also use the depth of knowledge that its mentors have to evaluate which markets we should focus on.

What is a typical working day for you?
There is no typical working day. Sometimes it’s a day in front of a screen conference calling New Zealand at 6 am and Canada at 9pm. Some days I’m visiting a hospital in England, others a Rail yard in New South Wales. The one thing typical about my day is that it is not boring.

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
By 2022 I would like to see us operating in a few more nations. To date we have worked in 38. There are huge opportunities in Commonwealth nations such as India, and the continent of Africa is largely untapped for us save a little work in Kenya.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Do what you enjoy and that you can be fantastic at. It’s that simple. If you do something that you have no interest in you will make no money and hate the whole experience and if you are not aiming to be the best at what you do, why should anyone buy from you.

Is there anything exciting you would like to share?
We have developed a new programme for small business, bringing the benefits of operational excellence usually only delivered to large organisations. Its first target was GP surgeries, they are all small businesses. It is now being deployed by NHS England to hundreds of GP’s and will create time and capacity for more appointments to be available in the NHS. We now hope to take this around the world, bringing better healthcare to millions. We are also about to roll out versions for small  and medium sized manufacturers. In a world where productivity is key this is a crucial tool.

Knowledge Management & Transfer: View Champion Profile

 

This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.