Thursday, October 28, 2021

Q&A: Steve Ayre, Rutland Plastics

Leicestershire-based injecting moulding business Rutland Plastics is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and recently received the award for Best Energy and Environmental Programme of the Year at the prestigious Plastics Industry Awards 2016. EMBL spoke to director Steve Ayre to find out more.

  1. What’s the story behind the business?

Rutland Plastics started in 1956. It was founded by my grandfather and his business partner. I went away to university and did other things, but the business was always something I wanted to be involved in, so I arrived in 2004 as general manager.

Like most businesses in our sector we took a hit in 2008-09. Our orders fell off a cliff and we went down to 85 people, but we’ve grown steadily since then and now employ 140.

  1. Tell us about your Green Award. Why is sustainability important to you?

We use a lot of electricity, and it’s a significant cost. We’re always looking for ways to reduce our costs, so a sustainable approach makes sense for two reasons – it’s better for the environment, and there are commercial drivers as well.

At Rutland Plastics our lighting and cooling systems are all green, and there are a number of solar panels on site. It’s always a focus for us.

Do others in our industry take the same approach? I suppose it depends how much energy they’re using, but I certainly know of other moulders who have a green strategy.

  1. Is creating local jobs something you look to do?

We recognise that we’re part of a community and have been for 60 years. Rutland Plastics is a family business and we have families working for us. The imperative is to create consistent employment. We’re not interested in hiring and firing quickly.

Skills shortages are an issue to a certain extent, but we always train internally. We have apprentices and take on a student from Loughborough University every year.

  1. How do you plan to grow the business?

The plan is to grow at our current site for the time being, and to use the assets we already have more effectively. We are not the sort of business that goes in for acquisitions and the like.

In terms of growing our turnover, that really depends on the type of customer we can attract.

  1. Has the Brexit vote caused you to change your strategy?

Only time will tell if it’s a real blow. I wasn’t expecting the leave vote to happen, personally, but we will weather the storm whatever transpires. We’re all about minimising risk where we can, so I wouldn’t say we’ve modified our approach because of the referendum result.

In the end, businesses can’t afford to sit and wait to see what happens.

  1. Would you say the East Midlands’ manufacturing sector is on the up?

Location isn’t necessarily that important to us, but yes, I would say the sector is in good health.

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