The Yorkshire Times Seasonal Spotlight - Marcus Brew, Untha UK
Katie Mallinson, Features Writer
We grab 60 seconds with Marcus Brew, managing director at industrial shredding specialist UNTHA UK, in this exclusive seasonal spotlight for The Yorkshire Times…
What was your primary business objective at the start of the year?
We’re big on continuous improvement so a primary driver at the start of 2017 was to look at how we could further boost our productivity.
I think many entrepreneurial small businesses find themselves in the position where they’re constantly innovating, have built up a great reputation and are performing well, but if they look honestly at their internal efficiencies there are definitely some areas to tweak.
We therefore saw this year as an opportunity to refine, evolve and mature.
Such a ‘change’ project requires a great degree of both time and financial commitment – as everything must be analysed in such granular detail – but the goal was to better understand our brand proposition, define roles and become leaner in our approach.
We hoped the result would be improved staff morale, customer satisfaction and bottom line margins. And we haven’t been disappointed!
Looking back on 2017, what have been the 3 biggest highlights for UNTHA UK?
Successfully completing this change management project and seeing how quickly it has benefitted our cost control, staff empowerment and customer feedback.
We’ve become better equipped to tackle complex client projects large or small, which means our pipeline for 2018 is strong.
Perhaps not a highlight, but we marked the company milestone of our Chairman Chris Oldfield retiring from the business, following a career spanning almost half a century. Him handing over the reins feels like a notable 2017 landmark, especially given we’ve spent so much time and effort this year preparing the company to be truly fit for the future.
What has been the most difficult challenge for your business?
Brexit, without a doubt. It brought a huge degree of uncertainty to the waste and recycling industry at the start of the year, which led to a number of large infrastructure projects being shelved. It wouldn’t be fair to comment on whether – in time and with hindsight – these operators will consider this a knee-jerk reaction. But it meant that our forward order book quickly looked a lot bleaker than it had previously.
Luckily, we are an agile team with a varied product range, so we quickly reassessed the landscape, identified other opportunities and refined our sales and marketing plan accordingly. Consequently, we have actually had a very strong year, but Brexit has bitten our industry quite severely in many cases.
Name another Yorkshire firm that you think has had a great year…
I would like to give a shout out to Harrogate Audi, a business just down the road from UNTHA UK. Like us, they prioritise the full lifecycle of the customer experience, down to the finest details, which I don’t think can be said for all dealerships within their space. I’m sure this commitment to quality and after care will have contributed to them having a strong 2017.
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We’re seeing a fellow Boroughbridge-based recycling specialist Riverside Waste Machinery do some great things. They are a close-knit team with ambitions to make clients’ big waste worries small, and it’s a goal they seem to be fulfilling! I’m excited to see what new kit they bring out in 2018 as I’ve heard they’ve been innovating behind the scenes…
What’s UNTHA UK’s key goal for next year?
Further cement our reputation for the customer support we offer long after the initial sale of one of our shredders.
Our machines are by no means the cheapest in the industry, but it is the longevity of our technology and the value we add to projects which ultimately leads to us securing orders. In a price sensitive market this ‘sell’ isn’t always easy, but, by working with prospective clients to prove how we can shape their projects for the better, I am confident we will see revenue continue to grow in 2018.
Anything you will do differently?
We’ve pretty much stuck to the plan for 2017. If anything, next year, I will allocate resources more effectively when managing our next phase of continuous improvement. It’s easy to get embroiled in or overexcited by a change project but a SMART plan is critical.
How do you think the regional business climate will fare?
I am confident that Yorkshire has a bright outlook for 2018, more-so than other parts of the UK actually. As a region we have a very diverse skill-set, with the service industry booming and the next generation of manufacturing prowess emerging. Post Brexit I think there will be plenty of export opportunities, so I hope Yorkshire businesses will step up to the plate and embrace that.
I also believe that there is plenty of funding/support available if you know where to look, so, by maintaining a collaborative, partnership focus, I think Yorkshire firms can remain robust even if the wider economy ‘wobbles’.
How will your team be celebrating Christmas before the break?
We’ve booked to enjoy a team night at Bibi’s in Leeds – good food, drink and entertainment from The Temptations. It’s so important to reward everyone’s hard work at the end of the year so we’re making the most of a final get-together before we go our separate ways for the break.
Describe Christmas at your house, in three words
Loving family time.
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The Yorkshire Times Seasonal Spotlight - Marcus Brew, Untha UK, 24th November 2017, 9:51 AM