As a young man in charge of a large international business, previously built up by your father and grandfather, you can sometimes imagine that a heavy weight sits on Giles Forster’s shoulders. Running any business takes dedication and hard work, but what plans does Giles have now he’s taken over the reins from his dad in an industry known for perfectionism and meticulous detail?
In January 2013, Giles Forster officially replaced his father Gervase as Chairman of HepcoMotion. His path to the top was a long one, having begun as an apprentice in at the age of 20 in the original West London factory, before moving when Hepco expanded its factory to Devon. Being an apprentice is hard enough for any young person, but having been tasked with some particularly challenging work in these early days such as repairing and renewing machines or cutting steel, Giles was literally forged into the man he is today.
Giles is a firm but natural leader who knows his business inside out. He is hard working and keen to show a younger and more up-to-date side of Hepco to everyone he can. Naturally stepping away from the old way of doing things, he is making his own mark on the company and his personal passion seems to be the image, look and feel of a “new” Hepco.
He says: “Every business today faces the same challenges as we are facing, but I knew it was crucial to reinvent the Hepco brand and start to market ourselves to the younger design engineers out there. We had to find a way to communicate who we are now in a busier, noisier world. All the changes I have implemented such as our new logo and brand guidelines will make a true difference to how we reach new customers.”
Things are certainly different at Hepco when you see the new images they use for products and all their new marketing materials as well as the product packaging, the new machines and even the new buildings being built at their Devon factory.
Not a day passes when something new isn’t being installed or implemented. Does this new way of presenting the Hepco business model sit well with his dad, who still has a strong hand in the business and knows what is happening every day?
Giles says: “Dad understands my commitment to developing the business in new markets, such as China and in making more money for the business. On a personal level, I enjoy the travelling and creating new opportunities for Hepco, but all the new activities are a clear business strategy for us that makes sense.”
It seems that Giles has happily dedicated his life to the business and enjoys the new challenges that have come every time he changed job role within Hepco over the last 15 years. He is clear that it has been very important to him to see each role within the different departments in action and learn the perspective of each employee – like a not-so-secret ‘Undercover Boss’ – and it must have been clear at this point that it was a time to learn things that were to later forge the creative ideas he has for the business.
HepcoMotion has branches and distributors in over 40 countries, so running a company this size takes hard work and determination as well as a sound knowledge of what has made it successful so far. So how does Giles see his role in Hepco?
He says: “In taking over from my father as Chairman, I feel I can drive the business forward into new markets such as Asia and bring a new, younger outlook to the business – always building on our success from the past. I don’t think it is ever wise to discard what has gone before and my father still has a strong daily input into the business. We all value his ideas and experience, but now it’s time for me to focus on doubling the size of the business and expand on our core strengths.”
What is the personal toll for this industry leader? Giles replies: “I work very long hours and it often means my evenings and weekends are work focused and the travel takes me away from home a great deal, but this legacy is something I take seriously. The pressure is that so many people are relying on me to get this right and I need to make sure that everything I do is taking us all in the right direction.”
When you talk to the people at Hepco, there is a focus on retaining good staff who know what they are doing, who know the industry and who also want to grow and succeed within Hepco. This creates the knowledge and customer service that Hepco is known for and which helped them become market and industry leaders in the UK manufacturing arena. Giles adds: “The people I have around me are essential as they have the experience and passion I need, but focusing on the continual improvement as a big picture is my ultimate goal for Hepco.”
To learn more about HepcoMotion, please visit the website at www.hepcomotion.com.