The MD of Interflex was part of a panel of manufacturing experts talking about the future of manufacturing in the Midlands which took place in online November.

Jim Griffin became MD of Interflex earlier this year, just prior to the first national lockdown. With over a career spanning three decades working in the automotive manufacturing industry, Jim has a wealth of experience to draw on, including leading a previous company successfully through the last economic downturn and then floating it on the stock market.

Championing manufacturing in the Midlands

The panel was part of the Getting Back on Track: How to safeguard manufacturing in a post-Covid world webinar run by the Business Desk.  An audience in excess of 100 people joined the seminar to hear the experts’ views on how the manufacturing industry can survive and thrive in the “new normal”.

Members of the panel discussed how Midlands manufacturers need to look to future and to understand how the world will have changed between now and 2022.

Jim was joined by other panel members which included Johnathan Dudley and Emma Clews of audit, tax advisory and risk firm Crowe as well as Stephen Morley, president of the Confederation of British Metalforming and Steve Hardeman, managing director of Clevedon Fasteners.

Expressing confidence in the future of automotive manufacturing

Jim Griffin explained that although the automotive manufacturing industry had been hard hit by lockdown, the immediate future for Interflex was looking good. The situation had been helped by the fact that the company has diversified into manufacturing PPE, setting up sister company Pinnacle PPE.

He commented: “Our biggest risk is what happens to the car industry. But we’re confident for next year. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve been able to invest our own cash into the business and we’re looking to pump even more of that money in next year.”

Johnathan Dudley from Crowe warned that returning to work will not be a simple “switch on” as many businesses will have to revise their processes and ways of working. He said: “Business owners need to visualise where their companies will look like next year and the year after that. Things might well be different in the marketplace.

He also echoed Jim’s optimism saying: “However, I’m confident for the future. Manufacturing led the way out of the first lockdown, and it can do the same the second time around.”

And not forgetting Brexit….

Stephen Morley, president, Confederation of British Metalforming expressed his fears around the “long difficult road ahead” for Midlands manufacturing, and his concerns that the government isn’t fully on board with the support that is needed to help the sector thrive again, raising the issue of Brexit as well as Covid.

He added: “What I fear is that some manufacturers are waiting until there is some clarity over whether there will be a deal with the EU or not. I’d say they have to start planning now – but many are already well behind.”

The benefit of three decades of manufacturing experience

During Jim’s time working in automotive manufacturing, he has been shortlisted for the Guardian Small Business Leader of the Year and has also won the EEF Manufacturing Champion for the Midlands award. In addition, Jim was awarded a Visiting Industrial Fellowship by Aston Business School in recognition of his contribution to business growth and entrepreneurship. He has served as Vice Chair of the West Midlands branch of the EEF.

 

“It is always interesting to share views with other experts involved in different areas of manufacturing,” he commented. “We have such a valuable wealth of experience and talent here in the Midlands; I was delighted to be involved in the event.”