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An outsider’s approach at giant German Mittelstand business

By Peter Marsh, March 26 2014 Moshen Sohi has come a long way from the time – as a six-year-old in his native Tehran – he became fascinated by pictures of Caterpillar bulldozers and decided he wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Since those formative days, Mr Sohi has forged a career in manufacturing largely in the US, but has ended up in the quiet south German town of Weinheim where he is chief executive of Freudenberg, a family-owned business making everything from aerospace seals to mops. Holding forth in the company’s airy headquarters, Mr Sohi says he has been fortunate to experience a lot of different ways of running businesses, from the divergent styles of some of the big US companies that he worked for, to the time after joining Freudenberg in 2003 when he helped to run a big Japanese joint venture. Read full article

By |May 3rd, 2014|Categories: Observations, Opinion|0 Comments

A French mid-sized success story in exotic technologies

By Peter Marsh,  April 15 2014 As a purveyor of subsea drones, blast doors and 3D printing machines for making replicas of human skulls, Raphaël Gorgé could be a James Bond villain in the making. But if Mr Gorgé has any threatening aspects to his personality, he disguises them masterfully as he describes his efforts to build up his collection of exotic high-tech businesses into a global force. Indeed, the chief executive and part owner of Groupe Gorgé is the personification of calm reasonableness, displaying a pleasant sense of humour as he explains what induced him 10 years ago to abandon a career in finance to join his father Jean-Pierre in an industrial company the latter had started in 1990. “My dad had achieved some progress but I felt with my background I could help steer the business in a new direction,” he says. “Finance is a great field: if you do well, everyone thinks you’re smart, and if you fail it’s because someone else [running the business being supported] has been stupid. I thought an industrial job would be more challenging and satisfying." Read full article 

By |May 2nd, 2014|Categories: Observations, Opinion|0 Comments

UK manufacturing enters a new high-tech phase

by Peter Marsh | 3 March 2014 A series of gleaming machines being assembled on a nondescript Staffordshire industrial estate conjures up something rare – a positive image of the UK’s progress in manufacturing technology. The £400,000 machines are 3D printing devices made by Renishaw, one of Britain’s leading engineering companies. The backing Renishaw has provided for this emerging technology is a bright spot in the UK’s patchy record over the past 30 years in supporting technical innovation in industry. Read full article    

By |May 2nd, 2014|Categories: Observations|0 Comments

Manufacturing the future: view of the UK in global context

by Martin Earnshaw | 7 March 2013 Even the ghosts of England’s past oppose HS2 it seems. On 10th February 2013 the Observer ran a bizarre story about how HS2 mightgo through a historic battle site from the War of the Roses. The fact that the actual location of the battle is unknown is beside the point it seems. It’s one more reason why it shouldn’t be built. It is churlish, though, to blame the nimbys. Even those building the line show little enthusiasm for the project. Robert Skidelsky writes that the 20 year time frame for building the line “displays an unbelievable lack of energy. Railways can be built much faster than this.” The overwhelming sense that all of this engenders is a sluggish, slow motion decline of Britain compared to the ongoing dynamism of China and the East. When David Smith wrote The Dragon and the Elephant in 2008 he related the tale of a group of business leaders in which the fear was expressed that all of the West’s industries and services might go to China, leaving the West with nothing. So it is heartening that there have been a number of recent books that counter this pessimism arguing that not only does the West have a niche in the economic world of the future, but that it is in prime position to exploit the opportunities that new technologies will afford us. Peter Marsh’s book The New Industrial Revolution has been acclaimed as the best of these contributions... Read Full Article

By |February 10th, 2014|Categories: Observations, Rail|0 Comments

The changing shape of UK industry

 by Peter Marsh | 3 January 2014 The story of industrial decline in Britain has become so familiar , it takes some effort to realise  that things may not  be so gloomy after all. In fact,British manufacturing is performing well - though not in the traditional ways that most people understand it. As the shape of world manufacturing has shifted over the past 30 years, Britain has altered too and , in many ways, the country is ahead of the game when it comes to the necessary factors for 21st century industrial success. It could turn out to be one of the winners in the new industrial age. From  British industry: a photography special - FT magazine, Jan 4 2014. To read full article, go to http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c54665e6-6c38-11e3-a216-00144feabdc0.html

By |February 10th, 2014|Categories: Observations|0 Comments