Steve Gaston, business development manager at the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) has been named The Manufacturer’s employee of the month September 2015.
What is your role and what are your main responsibilities?
It’s my job to go out and win new work for the Midlands Assembly Network and this is primarily focused on positioning us for projects that suit our complete supply chain capability.
This means finding firms that would benefit from using two; three; four, or even all of the MAN companies, providing one single-source solution for their production requirements.
Increasingly, innovators are approaching us to help them with anything from design and prototyping, through to low and high volume manufacturing.
Once we have identified a strong enquiry, I will act as the initial facilitator between potential clients and the nine companies in the group, followed by assisting with project management.
What are the key technical skills you use?
We have numerous manufacturing disciplines in the group: aluminium casting; chemical etching; CNC machining; contract electronics manufacture; electrical and electronic assembly; fabrication; high volume precision pressings; PCB development, and plastic injection moulding.
Understanding the technical capabilities of each company is a huge task and that’s before you work out how each one can come together to deliver what the customer wants.
Fortunately, I’ve been working with the group for nearly 10 years now, so I could do a pretty good sales job for each firm, let alone the Midlands Assembly Network as a whole.
What personal characteristics help you in your role?
An organised mind and remaining calm under pressure. I’m a people person, which can really help when you’re dealing with nine strongminded managing directors.
What do you consider to be your biggest personal success so far?
Last year alone, I played a small role in bringing in £4.5m of collective new work for the Midlands Assembly Network, a good share of which was reshored because we could make it better and more competitively.
As part of this new sales drive I was tasked with delivering a truly collaborative project that involved more than six different firms in a £2.6m global contract.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Seeing firsthand the unimaginable, a group of independent but like minded companies working together to achieve a common goal: to make UK manufacturing more competitive and to create engineering jobs.
I get to work with some of the best industrial talent we have in this country; it’s not always easy and it’s certainly never dull.
Do you have a grand career ambition?
At my time of life, I am pretty happy with my lot. However, we have been talking about it for a while now and I’d like to see the Midlands Assembly Network come up with its own product that we can design and manufacture under our own brand.