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Ellard’s Managing Director, Dave Lewis, celebrates 40 years in the industry

 

Ellard’s Managing Director, Dave Lewis, celebrates 40 years in the industry

On celebrating his 40th year in the industry, Ellard Ltd Managing Director, Dave Lewis, reflects on four decades as an industry leader…..

 

In his first job interview, a young Dave Lewis gave the Managing Director sat opposite him a response that could have spelt confidence or youthful-cock-sureness. When asked where he sees himself in ten years’ time, Lewis replied “Sat in your seat.”

 

It took Dave Lewis six years longer than his unabashed prediction to make the transition to the Managing Director’s chair, but those first years of success with fledgling Swedish company Crawford Doors set the tone for the young lad from Stoke-on-Trent who was to become an industry leader.

“[Crawford] developed the first process-laminated door panel, which was a major technical advance on what had been available before.” Reflects Lewis on what triggered the company’s rise.“In 1976, the turnover was £400,000, by the year 2000 the turnover was well over £12m.”

 

After 21 years with Crawford, a new challenge lay ahead of Lewis with Hull’s specialist-door manufacturer, Envirodoor. Within a five year stint, company sales had increased and profits were up. His Midas Touch continued, in an industry innovating with new technological advancements.

 

In 2002, previous employer Crawford Door announced their intention to merge the UK business to form a new company ‘Crawford Amber’.  Lewis was asked to take up the position of Sales and Marketing Director in the consolidated £40m turnover business.

 

However, due to well documented issues with production and installation the new venture suffered mixed fortunes and following major restructuring changes Lewis decided it was time to move on, becoming a consultant for a year.

 

With a name for success, Lewis was approached by the Chief Executive of Ensor Group in 2008, to take the helm of Ellard Ltd, based in Wythenshawe, Manchester – a company not firing on all cylinders at the time.

 

“To be brutally honest, [Ellard Ltd] was not going in the right direction.” Recalls Lewis of the moment he stepped into the Managing Director seat of his current home, “However I felt there was a good opportunity here and started to work on a plan to turn the business around.”

 

Eight years on and Ellard has lived quite a dramatic change. In 2008, Ellard was turning over £4m annually and in decline. After moving to impressive news premises on the same Roundthorn Industrial Estate in 2013, turnover is approaching £9.5m and shows no sign of slowing down.

 

Improving relationships with suppliers, reversing a loss of 40% sales from the previous year to his joining the company and poor procedures culminated perhaps the biggest challenge of Lewis’ career to date. Yet he kept faith with Ellard’s many long-serving staff.

 

“There was a good core of people here. We developed a simple PPP plan, which was to develop the people, improve the products and we also looked at the processes to make sure we were easy to deal with, offered good service and excellent products. After we resolved those, the company was able to return itself to a profitable state.”

 

As Ellard continues to rise towards Lewis’ aim of a £15m turnover, the company is on the verge of launching a series of new products that will see it expand into new areas, providing added impetus and growth.

 

Ellard is now up for sale and actively working with prospective buyers.

 

“The group has been very careful with the company that it chooses, to make sure the new owners want to invest and that the traditions are continued. It’s important that the company is in good hands for the future of its employees.”

 

So long as the future of Ellard Ltd is secure, Lewis can look forward to a well-earned retirement in the not-so-distant future. As for the future of the industry, his enthusiasm and keen eye haven’t waned.

 

“The technology that’s coming into the industry at the minute, particularly around electronics is moving at a rapid pace. Safety, speed of opening, the growth of automation, that’s where the future lies.”

 

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