With over 30 years continuous trading from its site in Fareham, Hampshire The Protool Plastics Group has expanded to multiple sites covering injection moulding, tooling and product assembly. Group Managing Director Michael Hadfield has been in the plastics industry for 36 years starting his career as a technical apprentice with Wavin in 1982. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will The Protool Plastics Group respond?
The past 12 months has seen major changes in the plastics industry with material price rises and shortages causing significant disruption.
Although major, these will prove insignificant to the changes coming from the tide of negative public opinion seen since the airing of The Blue Planet and the subsequent ‘island of plastic’ images that were seen across social media.
There is no doubt that the images seen are horrific and the plastics industry is becoming demonised as the media will only focus on the negative effect of plastic, that’s what people want to hear.
It is up to us to make people understand the positive side of plastics use but we must also take responsibility for the industry and deliver products and materials that are truly recyclable.
Changes will be forced from external legislation but smart companies will focus their energies on ways to reduce their businesses carbon footprint and the effort can make significant difference.
We have recently gone into production on a project producing 12 million technical mouldings per annum across a 30 product range. As the NPI ran over 6 months it has allowed us to focus on energy savings and product improvements at every stage.
Three new Krauss Maffei machines have been bought to replace much older machinery. With reduced cycle times, insulated injection barrels, lower energy consumption, reject rate reduction by monitoring material viscosity etc. we have a certified energy saving of 53.19 tonnes CO2e/yr.
Every cavity is directly fed via hot runner giving zero runner waste.
100% of production is delivered in returnable packaging saving over 15 tonnes of cardboard per annum.
Product design for manufacture & wall section optimisation has resulted in an annual polymer saving of 20 tonnes.
It is up to us to drive change…now!
How has The Protool Plastics Group developed during your tenure?
Our site in Fareham has been trading for over 30 years and The Protool Plastics Group was formed with the opening of a site in Manchester in 2014.
Since 2009 we have seen our injection moulding turnover increase by 25% per annum and alongside our group toolmaker, Protool Manufacturing, turnover is approaching 9 million per annum.
Profitability and financial stability is the foundation of every successful business. Tight financial controls and carefully targeted business growth has achieved this giving us a UK credit rating of 93 and international A rating.
This has allowed us to invest over 500K in the last 3 years on new machinery & automation.
Further investments are planned to increase productivity rates as we immerse ourselves in 4G technology and we are well placed for further significant growth.
Our sales approach continues to be through technical expertise and innovations in plastics with our own R&D programme developing processes and material blends to meet specific customer needs.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
The building of strong, talented and flexible skilled teams in both Fareham & Manchester sites which support our customers on a daily basis ensuring their needs are fully met.
Every day we focus on QUALITY, COST, DELIVERY, MANAGEMENT as these are the areas which deliver what our customers need, quality products, at the right price, on time and these are only achievable with good management from every member of staff.
On a personal note, tenacity and genuine love of design, innovation and plastics manufacturing.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Switching from injection mould tooling in 2009 to production moulding was much more difficult than I envisaged.
The gestation period from initial customer contact to winning business is much longer than in tooling with so many more variables to overcome.
Incorporating the Group Managing Director position alongside my initial sales and new product introduction roles has been challenging, but definitely rewarding.
What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?
My father always taught me to treat everyone the same, no matter of their position in work or life, great advice. This certainly works in business.
For an apprentice. You will learn something new every day so make sure you soak it all up. Ironically some of the greatest business lessons come from the hardest days.
What hidden talents do you have?
I have a passion for art and have been a keen artist and photographer for many years.
This developed into more than a hobby and my Pop Art paintings have been sold on every continent of the world.
Being a second generation Mod my biggest thrill is having two canvasses hung in Paul Weller’s recording studio in Surrey.
I also painted several canvasses for ‘My Adidas’ a Run DMC exhibition in Carnaby Street, London.