Steady growth is the responsible way forward

15 November 2017

You may remember that when last month’s comment was written, I’d just returned from a week in the west of Germany, visiting various manufacturers and designers of hoists and other lifting gear.

I’ve now had the chance to write up an account of what I discovered on my travels, which you can read in this issue. I was impressed by a number of things — the innovation on show, and the adaptability of companies to grow to fit their space, which is easier said than done when your company was established in the first half of the 20th century and you cannot expand your factory any further, due to roads, rivers and other boundaries fencing in your facility.

I was particularly impressed with the attitude of one of the companies, who explained that their goal was not rapid global growth, but steady, controlled, and above all, responsible expansion of their business.

I believe I technically count as a ‘Millennial ’— that’s not someone who is over 1,000 years old, but a label applied to the generation after ‘Generation X’. In approximate terms, it means you most likely had a mobile phone in your pocket before you reached adulthood. One of the concerns of my generation — for those of us who stop playing with our phones for long enough to take notice of what’s going on — is the drain of natural resources, and the pressures on wages, living costs, and the prices of things such as houses.

Part of the reason those issues are under strain is due to the pressure put on them by aggressively ambitious companies and corporations. To increase profits year-on-year, above the rate of inflation — as is often demanded by shareholders — requires strategies that can require vast amounts of natural resources, or impinge on product quality or the job security of the team who work at the company.

So it was refreshing to talk to a company who explained that they were proud to employ local people, proud to represent the local area and support manufacturers in the region, and most of all, were not interested in accepting investments from banks or other external investors to give them the capital required for faster growth. That route, I was told, can lead to pressure and bad decisions.

I’m sure it counts as idealistic to imagine a world where all manufacturers and retailers are local businesses, who while aiming to be successful, also aim to benefit their area and staff. But nevertheless, it’s good to know that some businesses are taking this approach, and long may it continue.

Talking of Germany, it’s come to that time of year when, if you’re the editor of a monthly magazine, you start thinking about March. Never mind Christmas — that’s already long gone when you’re thinking six months done the line — it’s time to look at the trade shows happening in the first half of next year. I’ll be reporting on Logimat and Cemat, both of which take place in Germany in the springtime, as well as Modex, taking place in Atlanta.

And before then, I’ll be at LiftEx in Telford, UK at the end of this month. If you spot me there, say hello and let me know the latest from your company.