Business Spirit of Youth Lives On

16 November 2001

Business Spirit of Youth Lives On - One tough year after Helen Knight first spoke to five young entrepreneurs who were making their mark in the engineering sector, she revisits them to find out how they are faring (Young Guns - The Engineer 16 Nov 01).

One tough year after HELEN KNIGHT first spoke to five young entrepreuneurs who were making their mark in the engineering sector, she revisits them to find out how they are faring.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year Railtrack was still solvent, George W Bush had yet to be declared US president following a farcical election, while a slide in technology stocks meant Marconi's share price dropped 67p in one day to 743p.

A year can be a long time in business, and economic.and political changes can often have a dramatic effect on the fortunes of a company or individual.

A little over a year ago we spoke to five entrepreneurs from the engineering sector, each of whom were forging successful careers despite their relatively young age.

These talented engineers were involved in vastly different businesses - a mainstream manufacturing company, an internet start up, a technology based business and two family firms but all were united in their drive and ambition, and willingness to work long hours and learn a range of skills to help speed their career development.

A year on, we ask them how their careers and businesses have been affected by recent events, including the internet stocks crash, the global slowdown and the recession in manufacturing, as well as longer term problems such as the continued strength of sterling.

For some the change in their circumstances has been dramatic, but each has reacted to difficulties thrown at them with the same entrepreneurial spirit that saw them rise quickly to the top in an industry where youth can often be a barrier to promotion.

Here they tell their stories

Case Study Three

Job title: Managing Director of the Doherty Group, a family-owned precision turned parts manufacturer.

Age: 31 Last year Jim Doherty was hoping to expand the group, including a possible move into new markets. But instead, the uncompetitive exchange rate and high cost of manufacturing in the UK forced the company to move its production to Hungary.From 120 people employed at WH Doherty two years ago there are now about five. All production cells have been shipped out to the company’s Hungarian plant, Doherty Hungary Kft, where they are working three shifts, five days a week and generating enough cash to re-invest and expand the business at a rate the firm has never known in the UK, Doherty says.

‘WH Doherty is now being run by my general manager as a batch production and technical development business to support N&J Engineering and the volume business in Hungary. We also want to retain this foothold in the UK so that if the opportunity, market or politicians allow it we can start volume manufacturing again.’

Doherty now runs N&J Engineering, which buys precision components from all over the world, including the UK, and then stocks and distributes them. He would like to see a much greater proportion of N&J’s supplier base in the UK, but its customers want the prices and quality levels available from overseas, he says. ‘The Doherty Group has had to change very quickly to survive. To a large extent that has meant turning our backs on our home patch.’

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