Mark Rushin, Managing Director, Avon Group Manufacturing

We welcome Mark Rushin, Managing Director of Avon Group Manufacturing, to our February edition of "About the Board", our regular series of interviews with leading figures in the South West business community 

Hello Mark, tell us about Avon Group Manufacturing and your role.

Avon Group is a rapidly expanding engineering/manufacturing business broadly based on sealing Solutions.
Our business is global and the strategic goals surround the development of vehicle solutions that include under body mouldings, seals, plastic moulded fuel components, NVH and body protection as well as specialists in the field of aerosol seals and layered engineering gaskets for petro chemical and pipe systems.
Our business has six footprints and over 450 staff.
My role as Managing Director has been multi-faceted and has largely included conditioning the businesses for the trading climate, ensuring all of my management team fully understand their roles whilst coaching weak areas.  Also having to ensure sound communication to our stakeholders, delivering cost cutting throughout the Group and sending price rises to clients as appropriate.

What challenges do you personally face over the next 12 months?

The next 12 months for Avon is all about managing cash, reducing debt whilst supporting business growth of 16 percent.

How has the economic recession impacted and any grounds for optimism?

The recession hit us hard. Having incurred significant debt to ensure growth we have then experienced a change in attitudes towards our gearing from stakeholders and the markets that we trade. Having cleansed staff largely during 2009 our main focus remains on cash management to ensure stocks stay on budget, that debtors pay on time and that we negotiate improved creditor terms. 

Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships? If so, what have you learned from the experience?

I don't have any executive Directorships

Should the government intervene more in your sector?

The Government seems to have little to no interest in our sector or rather our level and examples include. Increased utility costs which for a business of our size has resulted in increased costs of over £200,000. Increased minimum wage when the reality is that we are competing with the Far East and labour costs 10 percent of ours. No let up or moratorium on rates.

The banks are taking NO notice whatsoever at our level of Government directives towards supporting business. 

Next April the new carbon trust tax hits business and in our case year one means we have to deposit a further 70,000 with the Government as a tax deposit whilst we compete against countries without such policies.

Other countries are still enjoying grants and a multitude of subsidies to trade whilst the UK continues to bear costs far in excess of the competition. The Government need to get to the grass roots of the economy and understand that systematically their policies are not working, borders for trade are far to unrestricted and we are all slowly being strangled to death.

What’s your view on the South West’s business scene?

As a South West based business we do very little in the region which does concern me. Very often we have found customer loyalty far from the area in which we were born.

 Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?

 Be absolutely clear on your market and business plan.

 Focus on cash not profit so much
Be sure your gearing is sufficient to keep you from being to reliant on the changing bank scene

 What do you like to do outside of work? 

I'm a workaholic and so time is minimal other than our garden, cooking.  Escapism comes from good films and my wife.

 Who is your hero / personal inspiration?

Personal inspiration would be my father who made enough money, retired at 50, travels the world playing Golf. He has an active social life with my Mother and is a magistrate. Hero - Superman. Also I am a huge fan of the Godfather films.

What is on your I Pod and what are you reading right now?

Reading - Chris Evans autobiography part 2

Ipod - Mixed, I listen from Black Eyed Peas to Rhianna, Gaga and Maroon Five with a bit of Barbara Streisand in the mix!

 What has been your experience of working with our company?

Always been able to discuss the business detail and gain a full understanding of what's required.

 Have you hired successfully with us and if so what roles?

Moon have recruited my last 2 Financial Directors.

 How do you think Moon Consulting stays above the pack? Why have you kept working with us?  

They have been able to put forward a comprehensive list and variety of competence and listen to what the business needs.

I will continue to use them for my business requirements in the future.