AN INTERVIEW WITH THE GENERAL MANAGER OF OUR NEW FACILITY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
At the end of last year our new facility, located just outside of Prague in the Czech Republic, was certified to ISO 9001:2015 for quality management. We have ambitious growth plans for this plant and in the wake of this announcement we want to introduce you to the man at the helm of our journey into continental Europe; Advanex Czech Republic (ACZ) General Manager Michael Carrick;
First things first Michael, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you came to being the general manager of Advanex Czech Republic?
It goes all the way back to the 1980s, when I first started my engineering career in the Ever Ready Battery Company. But in 2001, I started a company in Czech Republic for my former employer, Hillside Plastics. Our biggest customer was Black & Decker and we had some other great customers in automotive. It was a pretty tough time in the North East of England but we decided to open a plant in Czech Republic close to Black & Decker in Ústí.
When there was a management buyout in 2006, I ended up being in the Czech company. We went from five people to 150 people and had customers such as Ikea, Porsche, BMW, Audi, Parker Hannifin and our original client Black & Decker. It all culminated in 2015 when we were given Supplier of the Year for Inalfa Roof System in recognition of the design and production work for the BMW Mini project, but by 2016, I was looking for a new avenue.
I basically think my experience in Czech Republic led me to Advanex. I had the same mentor as [Advanex Europe managing director] Ian Beardsmore. That’s how I got to know Advanex and it all went from there.
So that’s how you got the job. If you had to describe your current role at Advanex in short, what would it be?
Since I came to Advanex in June 2020, I have had just one ambition, one role, and one drive. And that is to take Advanex from this fabulous facility we have built here in Horní Počernice, that has not quite made it into production, so my ambition, my role, and what I’m really pushing for to achieve is to hit production in 2021. It’s really exciting times for us.
If you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would they be?
Just three? That’s going to be tough to limit. I would say: passionate, driven, ambitious.
So you have worked in Czech Republic since 2001, but didn’t move until nearly a decade later. How did that work out for you?
I used to commute from Newcastle to Prague, every Monday to Friday. There were so many flights which made it easy, but all of a sudden the flights got clipped so we ended up going to Prague via Bristol. Then we lost even more flights and at some point in time, we had to decide to move. It was around the start of 2010 that I actually made the move to spend the majority of my time in the Czech Republic and gain my Czech residency.
So what is the best thing about living in the Czech Republic?
As a Geordie, the best thing has to be doing the things you can’t do in your hometown. I learned to ski when I came here, so I’ve really learnt that I enjoy skiing and I go at least once a year for a full ski holiday. The other thing I love doing is mountain biking. I’ve always loved it, in fact. But because our factory was close to the German border in Dresden in the Sudetenland, in a very mountainous area, there’s nothing better than on a weekend, meeting a few of your friends, mountain biking over the border, having a few drinks and mountain biking back home. I’m safe in saying that’s not something you can do back in Newcastle.
What is it about this role that really excites you?
I have been so fortunate in my career to work with so many amazing companies. I started my career with Ever Ready Battery Company, but had moved on from press work to injection mould tooling and never finished what I had started in that field. So when I saw what Advanex were doing with these tiny springs they produce, and at such high speed with wires that are phenomenally minute and the volumes are staggering, I just thought ‘wow’, I would love to work for this company.
I have always had an engineering heart. I’m a LEGO person, a Meccano person, and I always love when things get made from nothing. I saw that in Advanex and it has such great potential. It just felt right straightaway.
How have you found your time at Advanex so far?
I came in halfway through a project which has been affected by Covid and various other things. It was a tricky start in that I had to try and understand Advanex as a group, but it helped that I got on with the Senior Management Team from the beginning.
It has been very interesting learning about the processes and communicating with all the different sides of the business and being part of the Operational Leadership Team too, because I really feel part of that. I have dedicated weekly meetings with SMT and it’s like a fantastic roller coaster.
I don’t believe in a honeymoon period. I just think everyone goes through ups and downs and you have always got to see the best in people. I am in a privileged position of having a great job at the beginning of a company’s process. It’s set up as an entity, but it is not yet run as an operational unit and I feel privileged to be the one that’s trying to change that.
What is the long term ambition for ACZ?
That’s a great question and my answer is quite controversial. When I spoke to Ian Beardsmore, who is one of the main reasons I am here and I really appreciate what he’s done for the company, but I remember meeting Ian, Adrian France [Manufacturing & Engineering Director], and Marian Mullings [Finance and Shared Services Director] to see if I could convince them to make me the next manager of ACZ, and they asked me the same question.
My answer then is my answer now. I want to make Advanex Czech Republic the best Advanex in the whole worldwide group and my drive is to be better than you guys and your companies. It is not a threat and nobody took it that way. You have got to have ambition, especially when you are starting from zero, you cannot think near enough is good enough. Be it the process, be it the people, be it the development, no matter what it is, if you apply passion to it and give it longevity, you will be successful.
Finally, and most importantly, do you have a favourite spring or Advanex component? If so, what is it?
Well I am the new boy here so to have a favourite spring is very difficult but what I remember is this; on the day I went into Southwell for my proper interview, I saw this tiny, tiny spring being made on the shop floor. And I just thought, ‘wow’! If you can make springs that small, that precise, that tight, that tiny, then until I can make my own, that one is my favourite spring. Everything starts from nothing and that spring epitomises that for me.
We aim to continue providing updates on our plant’s progression and growth over the coming months so please stay tuned here or follow us on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/advanex-europe-ltd/
If you have any enquiries or extra questions in relation to our new plant in the Czech Republic please get in touch using firstname.lastname@example.org