One of the West Midlands leading industrialists has launched Blanford Fox Business Improvement to help firms navigate their way through Covid-19 and target new growth opportunities.
David Fox plans to use his 50 years’ experience in manufacturing to support bosses to come to terms with the global challenges brought on by the pandemic and is urging companies to avoid a number of common mistakes that usually occur during downturns.
The former owner of award-winning PP Control & Automation believes cutting sales and marketing budgets is one of the biggest critical errors management teams can make, followed closely by taking too long to get their financial matters and customer credit agreements in better order.
He also feels that recessions can generate new opportunities to transform operational models and give UK manufacturing the chance to tap into a new-found appetite for making vital equipment in this country.
David is planning to offer in-depth one-to-one coaching to CEOs, MDs and Senior Executives and can bring in a team of hand-picked associates to support on specific projects.
“There is a real need to help young firms, who may never have experienced a recession before, to get through the current economic crisis,” explained David, who lists Simplex GE’s Jack Jamieson and GE’s Jack Welch as two of his biggest business influences.
“This is what I want to do with Blanford Fox Business Improvement. I’ve got over 50 years of industrial knowledge and experience of navigating three different recessions across three different decades. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way and want to ensure management teams can avoid the same mistakes I made.
“The impact of Covid-19 is going to be around for years and it is vital that firms are in a good starting position and have someone they can trust to talk to.”
He continued: “My passion for supporting UK manufacturing is still huge and now feels like the right time to develop the next generation of bosses, firstly to get through the effects of the pandemic and then look at how they can maximise opportunities to grow their businesses into something substantial.
“There are three types of firms I’m keen to work with. Micro business (up to 10 people) looking to stablilise and grow, SMEs keen to move into ‘Mittelstand’ territory and national manufacturers that want to develop new sales processes.”
David Fox has had a memorable career in manufacturing covering over five decades and various economic cycles.
He started industrial life as an apprentice before moving into the engineering draftsman’s office and then a variety of roles in senior sales positions for global corporations Square D and Simplex GE.
Den Nicholas, the third big influence in his professional life, then encouraged him to use his experience and knowledge to go on his own and this resulted in him buying the name of a struggling company called Power Panels in 1979.
“There wasn’t much else to buy to be honest,” explained David. “From what was a very low-key, challenging start, we managed to grow it to a £23m manufacturer employing 230 people, before selling the firm to Ardenton Capital and current CEO Tony Hague.
“When I sold PP C&A, we were supplying electrical control systems and strategic manufacturing outsourcing services to more than 15 of the world’s biggest machine builders.
“It was an amazing journey and taught me so many things from the importance of surrounding yourself with the right experts and investing in your staff (200 hours per employee per year at one stage) to not letting blind loyalty get in the way of tough decisions. In short, you have to keep telling yourself that you can’t develop people who aren’t committed.”
He concluded: “I also quickly grasped the importance of learning from others and this was especially true when we started working with Mazak in the early 90s. Adopting and then fine tuning the Japanese manufacturing disciplines gave us the foundation to come through the recessions and take advantage of new global opportunities.”