FLEXcon Europe

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by FLEXcon Europe's best practice article

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 FLEXcon Europe is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.flexcon.com

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
15
INDUSTRY & PRODUCTION
Managing Director StephenHall
FLEXcon’s application engineers
looking at surface coating trials in
our clean room facilities
Adhesive and film manufacturer FLEXcon was established by
the McDonough family in 1956 in Massachusetts, where it
originally operated out of a small garage. Initially operating
in the shoe industry by creating coloured laminates, the firm has
grown over the last 60 years to now turn over approximately $500
million worldwide – of which the European arm, FLEXcon Europe,
accounts for around 40 million. UK Managing Director Stephen
Hall tells
TheParliamentary Review
that FLEXcon, as its name
implies, is flexible and adaptable, constantly innovating to suit its
clients’ needs. He talks at greater length about the sectors FLEXcon
serves and how the company is preparing forthe future.
Our competitors are large multinationals that are either extremely efficient or have
developed large-scale innovations. We exist between these two poles and while we
do have off-the-shelf products to quickly meet customer need, we are also able to
highly customise our offerings. This flexibility, and our ability to adapt to customer
need, has led to the development of long-term relationships with our clients and
our impressive rate of client retention.
We work with a variety of sectors and serve all aspects of the automotive,
pharmaceutical and electronics industries. Our core focus is the coating of filmic
materials with pressure-sensitive adhesives, adapting our products and processes
as necessary to solve any user problems. Currently, we have over 2,900 stocked
products, a range that is made up of a variety of different filmic materials with
different properties. Our vast range of films and knowledge of applications
FACTS ABOUT
FLEXcon Europe
»Managing Director: StephenHall
»Established in 1956
»Based in Fife
»Services: Coating and
lamination of adhesives and
surface coatings
»No. of employees: 133 across
Europe
FLEXcon Europe
FLEXcon EUROPE |
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16
allow us to tailor-make products
for each unique application, from
chemical resistance for lab diagnostic
labelling and flexible, breathable
films designed to be worn on the
skin, to moisture and UV barrier
properties for encapsulating and
protectingelectronics.
In order to ensure durable
performance, we solely use
pressure-sensitive adhesives and
split our products into two main
categories: permanent adhesives and
removable adhesives, depending
on the application of the product.
Our adhesive coat weight ranges
between six microns and 100 microns
depending on the end-use substrate.
Seventy per cent of the products we
sell will be printed on, so we also coat
the film with our own specific top-
coats. These top-coats can also be
individualised and, as print methods
differ, we have developed a wide
range of variations to ensure the top-
coat always matches the print method.
This specification and attention to
detail runs throughout our production
process: including laminating, and
coating to ensuring products are slit,
sheeted and packaged to customer
requirements. Our USP is combining all
of these variables to create a unique
product which can specifically solve
the problems our customers face.
This innovation is used for all of our
products, from signs on windows
to harmonic absorbing adhesive for
automotive braking systems and
everything in between.
Preparing the business for the
next generation
We are guided by our desire to hand
over a strong business to the third
generation of McDonoughs, and
every decision we make must be in
alignment with the long-term success
of the business. Beyond this, we work
with and support our local community
alongside positively encouraging
our workforce to achieve their full
potential. This desire to strengthen
the business has led to significant
growth, with an average growth
rate of five per cent for every year
since2012.
In terms of our team, we give
our staff responsibility for their
own development. We run a
lean organisation and encourage
our employees to take on more
responsibility, diversifying their role
and expanding their skillsets. We
have a superb multicultural senior
management team, which is spread
across our two sites in Scotland and
the Netherlands. In order to maintain
the progress we have made, we are
working hard to develop the talent of
our junior managers. By doing so, we
aim to consolidate our position for the
next generation.
Succession planning is extremely
important to us and we have modelled
the demographics of our current
workforce and developed a strategy
which has highlighted our current risk
areas and created solutions to close
these gaps.
FLEXcon’s products start
life as coated jumbo
rolls before they are slit
or sheeted to customer
requirements
We are guided
by our desire
to hand over a
strong
business to
the third
generation of
McDonoughs,
and every
decision we
make must be
in alignment
with the long-
term success
of the
business
| FLEXcon EUROPE
17
INDUSTRY & PRODUCTION
Recruitment and the
uncertainty of Brexit
In Scotland, we have an excellent
reputation as a great employer and
have access to a significant pool of
people who strongly desire to come
and work for us. This has led us to
grow our team to 133 across Europe
and we often punch above our weight
in the calibre of candidates we attract.
However, recruiting in the Netherlands,
especially for our customer service
staff, presents more of a challenge.
Our Dutch office is located close to
Amsterdam and it can often be difficult
to recruit in the area because of the
transient nature of the local workforce.
The single biggest issue we face is
Brexit. Sixty-five per cent of our raw
materials come from mainland Europe
and this area also constitutes 80 per
cent of our sales. Because of this, we
are extremely concerned about the
introduction of tariffs and the potential
for the movement of goods to slow
down. In order to prepare for this
eventuality, and in order to protect our
customers, we have stockpiled finished
goods in our Dutch warehouse and
have stockpiled raw materials at our
Scottish factory. We have accumulated
roughly 1 million worth of extra
inventory, a necessary precaution but
one that impacts our cashflow. We
have prepared projections that cover
all possible Brexit eventualities and
estimate, if a no-deal Brexit occurs
and the UK reverts to WTO rules, we
are likely to be faced with 1 million
of extra costs. If this occurs, we will
have to scrutinise our finances and
determine whether the business can
remain in the UK or would need to
move to mainland Europe.
Leaving Brexit to one side, we have
many exciting projects in the pipeline
and we are actively searching for new
opportunities outside our normal
industries. We have continued to
expand our team and have approved
six new hires this year, adding to the
12 new staff we recruited last year. We
will also purchase a new top-coater,
at a cost of £3.1 million, and a new
oxidiser, at a cost of £1 million. This
expansion in our capacity is testament
to our long-term strategy and our
desire to prepare our company for the
success of the next generation.
The single
biggest issue
we face is
Brexit
dermaFLEX – a range
of biocompatible, skin
contact adhesive products
for general, neonatal and
geriatric use
FLEXcon EUROPE |
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16
allow us to tailor-make products
for each unique application, from
chemical resistance for lab diagnostic
labelling and flexible, breathable
films designed to be worn on the
skin, to moisture and UV barrier
properties for encapsulating and
protectingelectronics.
In order to ensure durable
performance, we solely use
pressure-sensitive adhesives and
split our products into two main
categories: permanent adhesives and
removable adhesives, depending
on the application of the product.
Our adhesive coat weight ranges
between six microns and 100 microns
depending on the end-use substrate.
Seventy per cent of the products we
sell will be printed on, so we also coat
the film with our own specific top-
coats. These top-coats can also be
individualised and, as print methods
differ, we have developed a wide
range of variations to ensure the top-
coat always matches the print method.
This specification and attention to
detail runs throughout our production
process: including laminating, and
coating to ensuring products are slit,
sheeted and packaged to customer
requirements. Our USP is combining all
of these variables to create a unique
product which can specifically solve
the problems our customers face.
This innovation is used for all of our
products, from signs on windows
to harmonic absorbing adhesive for
automotive braking systems and
everything in between.
Preparing the business for the
next generation
We are guided by our desire to hand
over a strong business to the third
generation of McDonoughs, and
every decision we make must be in
alignment with the long-term success
of the business. Beyond this, we work
with and support our local community
alongside positively encouraging
our workforce to achieve their full
potential. This desire to strengthen
the business has led to significant
growth, with an average growth
rate of five per cent for every year
since2012.
In terms of our team, we give
our staff responsibility for their
own development. We run a
lean organisation and encourage
our employees to take on more
responsibility, diversifying their role
and expanding their skillsets. We
have a superb multicultural senior
management team, which is spread
across our two sites in Scotland and
the Netherlands. In order to maintain
the progress we have made, we are
working hard to develop the talent of
our junior managers. By doing so, we
aim to consolidate our position for the
next generation.
Succession planning is extremely
important to us and we have modelled
the demographics of our current
workforce and developed a strategy
which has highlighted our current risk
areas and created solutions to close
these gaps.
FLEXcon’s products start
life as coated jumbo
rolls before they are slit
or sheeted to customer
requirements
We are guided
by our desire
to hand over a
strong
business to
the third
generation of
McDonoughs,
and every
decision we
make must be
in alignment
with the long-
term success
of the
business
| FLEXcon EUROPE
17
INDUSTRY & PRODUCTION
Recruitment and the
uncertainty of Brexit
In Scotland, we have an excellent
reputation as a great employer and
have access to a significant pool of
people who strongly desire to come
and work for us. This has led us to
grow our team to 133 across Europe
and we often punch above our weight
in the calibre of candidates we attract.
However, recruiting in the Netherlands,
especially for our customer service
staff, presents more of a challenge.
Our Dutch office is located close to
Amsterdam and it can often be difficult
to recruit in the area because of the
transient nature of the local workforce.
The single biggest issue we face is
Brexit. Sixty-five per cent of our raw
materials come from mainland Europe
and this area also constitutes 80 per
cent of our sales. Because of this, we
are extremely concerned about the
introduction of tariffs and the potential
for the movement of goods to slow
down. In order to prepare for this
eventuality, and in order to protect our
customers, we have stockpiled finished
goods in our Dutch warehouse and
have stockpiled raw materials at our
Scottish factory. We have accumulated
roughly 1 million worth of extra
inventory, a necessary precaution but
one that impacts our cashflow. We
have prepared projections that cover
all possible Brexit eventualities and
estimate, if a no-deal Brexit occurs
and the UK reverts to WTO rules, we
are likely to be faced with 1 million
of extra costs. If this occurs, we will
have to scrutinise our finances and
determine whether the business can
remain in the UK or would need to
move to mainland Europe.
Leaving Brexit to one side, we have
many exciting projects in the pipeline
and we are actively searching for new
opportunities outside our normal
industries. We have continued to
expand our team and have approved
six new hires this year, adding to the
12 new staff we recruited last year. We
will also purchase a new top-coater,
at a cost of £3.1 million, and a new
oxidiser, at a cost of £1 million. This
expansion in our capacity is testament
to our long-term strategy and our
desire to prepare our company for the
success of the next generation.
The single
biggest issue
we face is
Brexit
dermaFLEX – a range
of biocompatible, skin
contact adhesive products
for general, neonatal and
geriatric use
FLEXcon EUROPE |

www.flexcon.com

This article was sponsored by FLEXcon Europe. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development