The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ascott Analytical is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
53ASCOTT ANALYTICAL EQUIPMENT LTD |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Chairman Chris Gates and
managing director Adrian Wain
Ascott Analytical is one of the world’s top five
manufacturers of corrosion test equipment for the
automotive, aerospace and coatings industries. Exports
to more than 50 countries account for 95 per cent of turnover,
with China, India and the US being the biggest markets and
the automotive sector generating the largest share of revenue.
The company employs 30 people and is based in Tamworth
in Staffordshire. Chris Gates, its chairman, who founded the
company in 1989, spells out his recipe for success – summed up
as “innovate and export”.
My mantra for business is encapsulated in the expression “keep moving the goal
posts”. Success in any endeavour can breed complacency. Complacency is the
enemy of success. Rest on your reputation for just a moment and you will be
going backwards, so keep moving. Be restless. Exploit the British tendency to be
inventive. Design and develop – constantly. As a moving target you will leave your
competitors struggling to keep up.
Protect your innovations where you can – for example, with trademarks or patents.
But if your products do get copied, as ours have been (incredibly irritating and
certainly not flattering) then channel this anger into ensuring a constant stream of
product innovations. Deliver these to market quickly to differentiate your product
and keep one step ahead of the competition. This will ultimately leave the copies
looking like empty shadows of the real deal.
»Chairman: Chris Gates
»Managing director Adrian
»Established in 1989
»Based in Tamworth,
»Services: Manufacture of
corrosion test equipment
»No. of employees: 30
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
54 | ASCOTT ANALYTICAL EQUIPMENT LTD
British manufacturing in 2018 is much
less about large smokestack industries
and more about less visible, highly
specialised manufacturers like us who
are good at exploiting manufacturing
niches. A smaller business has one key
advantage over a bigger one – agility.
Specifically, it has the ability to react
to a changing market quickly and
adapt accordingly. Agility coupled with
innovation is a potent combination:
two prongs of an attack that will help
ensure a business prevails over its
In our field of corrosion test
equipment, in what is globally a highly
specialised niche market, there was
never any question as to whether
exporting was a good idea for us. It
was vital. No single market could give
us enough critical mass to support
the investment required. Our export
performance was a significant factor
in our winning The Manufacturers’
Organisation (EEF) 2017 National
Exporter of the Year Award, in
addition to two regional export awards
also in 2017. Too often exporting is
seen as the icing on the cake by British
business: I argue it should be the cake
itself. The reasons should be obvious:
1. Exporting is a fantastic way to
spread any risk of market/economic
downturns. Our exports to China
immunised us against the general
economic downturn during and
after the 2009 financial crisis.
2. Improved cash flow. Many are
wary of payment delays or worse
when dealing overseas, but in my
experience this is not borne out by
reality. Overseas payments can be
very prompt, providing the right
terms are agreed. There are a broad
range of bank instruments that
can also be used to secure prompt
3. Extending product life. Almost all
products have a life cycle, but this is
rarely the same in all markets at the
4. It’s great for Britain’s balance of
My biggest tip for successful exporting
is simple: try to put yourself in the
customer’s shoes and think about all
the extra reasons (compared with a UK
customer) that they might choose not
to buy from you. Address these issues,
whatever they may be:
If you do this well, then they will buy
As a business we’ve been prepared to
go the extra mile to develop globally.
During the past 30 years we’ve created
and now maintain catalogues in 20
languages. When we realised that
the US preferred a slightly different
size of catalogue, we created one
Ascott S1000iS salt spray
seen as the
icing on the
cake by British
should be the
55ASCOTT ANALYTICAL EQUIPMENT LTD |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
to match their dimensions. We now
have over 20 individual language-
specific websites hosted in the local
market to maximise Search Engine
Every year, we exhibit at major trade
shows on different continents. In the
past two years we’ve directly invested
in shows in the US, China, India, South
Korea and Germany, and support our
distributors with their own exhibitions
in dozens of countries annually.
Many of our distributors have been
with us from the beginning – they
are entrepreneurs who have built
their business around our corrosion
chambers and they are an integral part
of the Ascott family.
During the past decade our output
has tripled and global recognition has
brought us international partners: for
example AkzoNobel now operates
30 Ascott chambers in 12 countries,
from Brazil to Singapore. Among our
customers we can count internationally
recognised businesses such as
Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz, Tesla,
Airbus, Pratt & Whiney, Ford, Boeing,
Safran, Panasonic, Jaguar Land Rover
and Samsung. More than 50 per cent
of total revenue comes from Asia.
The high growth we’ve achieved over
the past couple of years has led to
investment in people. A new facility
that opened earlier this year has
doubled capacity, and has provided
greater focus on product development
to ensure our business – which is now
a rather large fish in a small pond –
has the ability to adapt and continue
its rate of expansion over the coming
With new products in the pipeline and
a stronger management team, we’re
looking forward to the future and have
put challenging objectives in place.
We have a global brand to build on,
new geographic markets still to exploit
– including Latin America – and new
products to strengthen our offering to
our distribution network.
At Ascott, we believe our business
embodies the spirit of British
manufacturing in the modern age.
Innovative in everything we do, we are
determined to show the rest of the
world how it should be done.
At Ascott we
spirit of British
in the modern
Ascott exhibits at the
Show in Germany
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.