There is a lot of debate about what the UK will look like after Brexit. Mike Maddock and Dan Fleetcroft from PES Performance discussed their opinions on the matter in an interview with the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF).
The conversation focused around what this could mean for the future of UK engineering companies and what could be done in this time of uncertainty.
Mike started the discussion by mentioning what he thought Brexit would mean for companies, “I think it is going to drive more efficiency. At the moment in the automotive sector many parts are taking several trips around Europe before coming back to be fitted to a vehicle. As well as industrial strategy about on-shoring, I think it is going to create clustering as well. Supply chains will increasingly cluster around their customers which will be interesting. I’m not sure how that is going to pan out but I’m sure it is going to drive more efficiency and productivity.”
But what will it mean for engineering companies in particular? Mike suggested that “It’s making a difference but in a positive way. There’s a lot of emotion involved with Brexit, whereas from an engineering base we like to deal with facts and see if we can create a solution. There’s a lot of uncertainty but we are focusing on how we support our clients to take their business forward?
“For us, there are real opportunities. We have been looking internationally and we do work with international clients. Recently I went to Canada on an Innovate UK trip – looking and working with Canadian businesses – collaborating and sharing best practice with the UK. It’s going to be about the implementation of technology; looking at innovative ways to move forward and having those products that are best in class within the market place that people can get. The relationship that UK business has with the rest of the world is still very strong and we are classed as a real innovative nation – so it’s very positive.”
Dan Fleetcroft suggested that, “For me, the biggest issue with Brexit was not having the information available to really make a decision. So, you assimilate what you can and make the best decision you can – and we’ve got to get on with it and regardless of where we are at, if we don’t get on with it we’ll drag ourselves down.”
Mike continued the discussion by saying; “From our perspective we think that business will always face changes. Whether its economic situations like Brexit or recessions, or changes in technology that can come along and take your business out. But these changes generate opportunities.
“The key question is how do we futureproof our business? It’s about stepping back and understanding the business. In the context of Brexit, it just helps you to focus a little bit more. Yes, there will be challenges, but there are always challenges in business. You can continue to complain about Brexit or you can do something about it and be pro-active to get your businesses to a position that it is going to work.”
Dan said that, “Within Brexit there will be some challenging stories and some businesses won’t survive but they may not have survived regardless. We need to get some balance. Anything that is Brexit related or not Brexit related is a negative. What’s the point of watching the news anymore? There’s never any good news. There’s got to be good news out there – our business is flying but nobody wants to talk about it.
“There needs to be a balance in terms of stories. We need to have a fair understanding of what the world is doing. If we can at least have some positive stories about the good news in engineering and manufacturing, I think that this will help people.”
Mike concluded the discussion on a positive note based on future innovation- “We’re working with companies now that have some interesting challenges, but ultimately people do business with people. Everybody has a relationship with their clients or suppliers and they want to work to take that forward. We have got a client we are working with in the aerospace sector that has just secured two projects, where you’re looking at 22 years – through Europe, despite Brexit – so business goes on. There will be solutions, there will be challenges but again let’s look at it in terms of an innovative way of how we go forward and prove ourselves.”