Getting to know you: Mark Thornhill

What do you currently do?

I started my first business when I was 18 years old and have been involved in the manufacturing sector since the late 1980s. Now I run an engineering sourcing business called Synergetix Ltd and a manufacturing software company, Statii Ltd, which aims to improve profitability and productivity of SMEs within the engineering sector. I am passionate about British manufacturing. It is often said that Britain doesn’t make things any more but that is completely untrue. All over the country there are successful manufacturers, proving that we are as great a nation of engineers and craftspeople as we ever were.

What is your inspiration in business? At the moment, my biggest motivator is hearing small businesses talk about the positive impact our software product, Statii, has made to their business.

Who do you admire?

Based on his vision and unrelenting determination, it has got to be Steve Jobs.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?

It’s important when you ‘lose’ to never ‘lose’ the lesson. Making mistakes is fine, just try to avoid making them twice – that can be expensive in business situations!

What defines your way of doing business?

First under promise what you will produce, then over deliver it. Whatever the business, your honesty and integrity are paramount. If you agree something, you have got to make it happen.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

When doing financial projections, always work on the ‘worst case’ scenario. That way, things can only get better! Another key piece of advice I would give is to keep your profit targets at the forefront of decisions you make and don’t be blinded by turnover – it’s very exciting to get a big contract when you start out but if it will cost you more money to produce than you’ll make, then you’re better off going for something smaller.

When setting up I think it is also very important to talk to as many business people as possible, and even more importantly, listen to what they’ve got to say. Counterintuitively, I think this is even more valuable if they don’t agree with your opinions. Listening to another point of view has the dual effect of helping you consider other ways of doing things, and it also helps reinforce your own standpoint and decide what really matters.