This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of The Manufacturer. Nick Hussey, CEO of the Hennik Group, which publishes the magazine, reflects on two decades of industry-leading insights, features and analysis.
The magazine cover opposite is from the November 2007 issue of The Manufacturer, but even though that is only 10 years ago it certainly looks very dated. (I dread to think what the November 1997 looked like, and will never find out. It’s lying on a broken hard drive somewhere.)
My long-time business partner, Henry Anson and I managed to wrest control of The Manufacturer from a venture capitalist in a sealed bid auction.
And with what was, in hindsight, comically bad timing, began in 2008 to rebuild The Manufacturer brand, its reputation and commercial viability – at the very height, or rather the depth, of the recession. No easy task!
What we wanted back then from our involvement in manufacturing was no different to what it is today: we wanted to be the mirror in which the sector can see the best of itself, and learn how to be more productive, profitable and sustainable.
Flicking through the pages of that November 2007 issue, it is fascinating to see what we were talking about then and how it compares with now.
Two things stand out: just as today, we were writing about the things that make good manufacturers better, by finding out what makes better ones great. But what is also striking is that there is no mention in those pages of Industry 4.0, digitalisation, sensors, cloud, and all the new technologies now disrupting the sector. Nor, obviously, was there a Brexit to deal with. In fact, it all looked quite placid!
It is tempting to hanker slightly after those calmer, more certain times, but we don’t. The prospect of change, even if occasionally alarming and disruptive, offers opportunity to those manufacturers prepared to grasp it, and they are the ones we have always identified with and supported.
This is the time when we feel most validated in our mission to be the catalyst that ignites connections across the manufacturing community. So, we choose to look firmly forward.
Who knows what the future will look like? Young people today are studying for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet, which means that anyone who tells you they have a sure-fire bet on a future technology should be given a wide berth.
It is a future, then, that demands agility, quick reflexes and cool intelligence. We like to think that our role at The Manufacturer is to help make all those possible.
We believe our rich mix of published and digital products, together with our comprehensive programme of events – some large, some intimate – give manufacturers a unique insight into how to navigate the future, and how to choose the tools to help them do it.
After all, we are networked with universities, government, Catapults and of course manufacturers large and small right across the land, and increasingly into the US, India, South America and Asia.
We like to think of ourselves as the watering hole for ambitious manufacturers, inviting members of this vibrant community to join together and make the most of what they have most in common – a desire to succeed, to grow, to create worthwhile jobs and to make British manufacturing the envy of the world.
I would contend it already is, and the evidence of that is on display this week (15-16 November) in Liverpool at The Manufacturer’s co-located Smart Factory Expo, Leaders Conference, Top 100 2017 and MX Awards 2017. Here’s to the next 20 years!
“A dynamic industrial sector relies on, and benefits from, a strong and vibrant trade press. The Manufacturer is renowned for its insightful, intelligent analysis across a wide range of issues. It is a champion of innovation, skills and companies of all sizes.
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations as the magazine enjoys its twentieth anniversary and wish it every success for the future”
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF
“Over the past couple of years, I have observed The Manufacturer grow its sphere of influence and impact on all matters relating to manufacturing. The ability of their team to provide a platform for networking has strengthened the footprint and influence of manufacturing in the UK.
“The resources they offer and insights provided are both supportive and challenging. The Manufacturer surfaces issues to be debated and resolved – such that a unified and powerful voice emerges.
“In particular for me, the sense of pride they have invoked in UK manufacturing businesses is outstanding. Through initiatives like the recognition of excellence in the The Manufacturer MX Annual Awards and The Manufacturer Top 100, they have brought the subject of manufacturing out of the shadows and provided it with a well-deserved stature.”
Alan Foster, Executive Director Infrastructure Projects, McLaren Automotive