News from Ficep UK's Mark Jones

After 23 years leading the Ficep UK business, Mark Jones steps down as Managing Director. Mark will take on a new role as Ficep UK’s Non Executive Director, for a short period.

There will be more to come on the new leadership, in due course, but we couldn’t let Mark take on his new role without asking him about his career highlights and how he has led the business to the success it is today:

How did your career start?

I was 16, leaving school in a difficult period for the economy and unemployment was high, when I managed to gain an apprenticeship in metalwork and fabrication for a company manufacturing commercial refrigeration units for supermarkets. This set me on the engineering path.

How did it continue?

After three years of the apprenticeship, I realised there was a wider world and decided I needed to learn more about the metals industry.

In 1983, I decided on a change of direction and became a technical sales engineer for a welding equipment supplier, gaining a large amount of training in new welding technology. I then moved to a European manufacturer of consumables and equipment, travelling across the north of the UK and visiting manufacturing sites in Europe.

In the mid to late 80s I created my own business as a supplier of welding equipment and consumables, but the 90s recession hit and unfortunately I had to close the business. I changed direction and worked as sales manager for a steel component supplier and initial stage manufacturing components for a number of OEM’s, the company was based in Scotland with a depot in West Yorkshire. I enjoyed the time there and continued on the management team for five years. At that time, the company was the largest user of laser equipment for fabrication in the UK. It was my interest in the equipment side which led me on to joining the machine tool supplier, Pullmax, based in Leeds, which is now Bystronic in the UK.

How did you come to set up Ficep UK?

Pullmax supplied Ficep machines as an agency product. I was approached by Ficep to set up the subsidiary in the UK. I accepted the challenge and am very proud to have been offered the opportunity. It started with just a small team of three, myself, Bob King as after sales manager and an administrator in a small rented office in the centre of Leeds. We worked hard to establish Ficep against other more established competitors at that time, with the support of Ficep and our families who understood the time commitment we made.

How have you grown the business to where you are now?

We quickly recognised the potential we had with the extensive Ficep product range and the business started to grow. In 2004 we moved to new premises with a small showroom and stayed there for six years. After that period in 2010 we moved out of Leeds to a facility at Junction 31 on the M62 in West Yorkshire, our HQ still today, all the while growing the team and increasing the number of machines we supplied.

What have been the greatest achievements of working at Ficep?

Ficep is an outstanding manufacturing business. I have been given many opportunities in my time with them and have some fantastic memories. I have travelled extensively and covered the Nordic countries which was a great experience. Having introduced Ficep to Sweden for the first time in their history I am proud to say this is a new area for Ficep and we have been successful in growing business there in the past few years. Besides this, learning and travelling in Italy has allowed me to speak Italian and visit a country I really enjoy. All this, whilst growing our business in the UK with some fantastic people, has been an outstanding time.

What insights can you share about the industry?

The need for automation is significant in our industry, to alleviate some of the skills and labour shortages in many businesses and make more use of robotics as a way of reducing costs and improving productivity. Many businesses are also adapting to industry 4.0 to manage workshop production and implementing better data usage to help them streamline operations.

What are the secrets behind making it such a success?

Never give up, you always need to work hard, bring along good people, try new things, constantly evolve and focus on the vision.

What do you want to say to clients you have worked with, past and present?

For over two decades the business has met and worked with some incredible businesses in the steel industry. I thank all our customers for their support and for continuing to put their trust in Ficep. It has been a real honour to help them achieve success.

And to staff?

Some of our team have been with us for many years and I would like to thank them for their valued input into the success of our UK business. They are a great bunch of people who work hard to support customers, backed by the team in Italy. I appreciate and enjoy the friendship each and every one of our team members have provided. Everyone works hard for us to achieve our vision for the future. It will be a great wrench when I eventually leave such brilliant people, but I am certain the team will thrive in the future.

What lies ahead for you?

As well as becoming Non Executive Director, I intend to relax and take up some of my hobbies and charity work. Travelling will be high on the agenda and I also have an intensive Italian course pending at the end of the year, in Italy of course.

What lies ahead for Ficep UK?

The business is in a strong position to prosper, with new innovations to be launched in the short term by Ficep. The team will grow and the vision is to continue to provide the excellent service to which customers have become accustomed.

What advice do you give to those taking the business forward?

It is a huge opportunity to continue with a successful business and capitalise on the success so far. Our industry needs solid, stable suppliers who are here in the UK and have invested in its infrastructure to endure the changing economy. Ficep is here for the long term and I wish them all the best success for the future.