Amit Bhatia, QPR co-owner and chairman of Hope Construction Materials, on rejuvenating UK manufacturing
Just over a year ago I took charge at Hope Construction Materials – supplying British firms with construction materials from our 150 UK sites. This was my first foray into the world of manufacturing and taking stock of the industry at the time of the company’s launch played a significant role in our launch strategy.
UK construction is regularly used as a barometer for the success of the economy and it’s safe to say the industry was in the doldrums during the recession. Large firms had stuck with their traditional mindset and their fortunes mirrored that of the economy. Whilst I appreciate economic forces will always impact an industry of this size we were keen to stand alone with our approach, and where possible take steps to ensure we were in control of our destiny.
As an entrepreneur I have worked in a number of fields both in the UK and abroad. My single biggest belief is that to be a success you must spot an opportunity and be willing to take it immediately – no cold feet, dive straight in and make the most of it. This has been my approach in our first year at Hope and I believe it is a culture of enterprise that will drive British manufacturing forward in 2014, regardless of whether you make buildings or batteries, houses or hair straighteners.
They say one sign of lunacy is doing the same things over again yet expecting different outcomes and I encourage Britain’s manufacturers to go out on a limb, try something different and see what happens. I don’t endorse a gung-ho approach with no consideration for risk, but I do support an outlook which means people calculate the impact of their decisions and aren’t afraid to break the mould and try something different.
I believe one of the biggest issues is the way in which many industries treat themselves as silos, focusing only on lessons they can learn from firms around them. But what happens when the industry as a whole is struggling? What can be learned then? Businesses large and small should constantly be on the search for innovative ways in which to make improvements and why should these ideas not come from other industries? For example, we are currently testing a new pricing model which has been successful in many other industries yet has been ignored in construction. We believe it will work and that it will benefit our customers and set the standard for the industry for many years to come. Had we just looked around us this may not have happened.
“Entrepreneurial” is one of Hope’s core business values and we ask that our 900 employees share their enterprising ideas for ways we can better serve our customers and in turn grow as a business and this approach is something I believe firms of all sizes should adopt if they wish to be successful.
They old adage goes that if something isn’t broke there is no reason to fix it – I say if something could be improved in any way there are plenty of reasons to fix it and it is this process of constant evaluation across all of the different sectors of British manufacturing that will see the UK make great strides forward in 2014.