Philip Atkinson, managing director of North East-based manufacturing firm, BTS Facades and Fabrications tells Business Matters more about the direction of his carbon neutral business
What do you currently do at BTS Facades and Fabrications?
I’m the managing director at BTS Facades & Fabrications. I lead a forward-thinking manufacturing business which employs a team of 50.
We specialise in facades and fabrications and strive for precision manufacturing, which is much how I see my role. I drive the business forward, ensuring we’re an attractive company to work both with and for.
The project I’m currently working on entails making BTS a sustainable company, and over the past year I have been exploring and learning about the options we have.
Since I started exploring environmentally-friendly alternatives, we’ve made a number of steps into becoming more sustainable, and have even achieved a carbon neutral status, with aims of achieving NetZero by 2030.
Additionally, I am also committed to ensuring BTS becomes a B Corp organisation with a stakeholder business model.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
It’s all I’ve ever known; my father brought me into his roofing and cladding business in 1985, and 36 years later I’m still in the cladding game.
However, I have spent the last 13 years as the managing director of a new entity, BTS, which has been going strong since 2009.
My inspiration was to do it better than I knew; I learned so much in my previous tenure, but it also taught me to do things better and engage better and lead with passion and vigour.
Who do you admire?
I admire strong leaders such as Alan Sugar. I’ve read his book and take empowerment from his humble start to where he is now. I spent my first 12 years in business on a factory floor, so feel I share a similar journey.
The modest start to my career enabled me to learn every aspect of my trade, but also gave me the drive to do more, even if it did mean taking a pay cut – I knew it would be worth it in the end.
I also admire my two former bosses. One taught me to have a strong work ethic, and the other boss encouraged me to enjoy every working day – both lessons are still true to this day.
I also admire my father, a self-made man who, at 82, still comes into the business and offers advice at board meetings and can often be seen on the other end of a machine late on a night to help hit customer delivery dates.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I took the step to go on my own at 39. In hindsight, I wish I had done it 10 years earlier. However, after speaking with my former boss, we both agreed I probably wasn’t ready. I suppose you have to trust the process sometimes.
If there is one thing I could change it would to have seen more of my kids growing up, but the sacrifice has paid dividends as I’m now an 8-hour-a-day man and have lots of holidays and spend every minute I can with my wife and family.
I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it though; it’s been a dream come true.
What defines your way of doing business?
I’m a ‘doer’. If I’m asked to do something, I ensure it’s completed with passion and integrity. I lead with a love for what I do and pride of the business’s accomplishments. I take sales personally and strive to have brilliant relationships with our tier one customers and suppliers.
I aim to have an engaged workforce who share my vision, I do this through taking a hands-on approach with my team, I love to work closely with them to encourage them to grow within the business and come through the ranks.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Honestly, just work hard. It’s really tough at times, but if you love what you do it’s rewarding. My door is always open if anyone is in need of any advice.
During my time as an MD, I have learned it can be a little lonely, my advice is to mould a team that shares your vision and supports you.
Additionally, I have found that engagement and strategy is key.
Engage closely with every member of staff and be transparent. Have a plan, and stick to it, but ensure your team are involved in the decision-making process.
BTS Fabrications are a finalist in the Sustainable Business of the year category of the Business Champion Awards