7th April 2016

Since making a £20m investment in their new riverside premises in 2014, Newcastle-based engineering experts Responsive Engineering faced a challenging economic downturn and some tough decisions. The global downturn in the Defence and Oil & Gas industries has had a huge effect on the UK engineering industry and Responsive Engineering, part of the Reece Group, are just one of many large organisations experiencing challenging times.

But with new Managing Director Graeme Cook now on board, the company, based in the former BAE premises on Scotswood Road is making good progress on the road to growth.

Graeme was introduced to Responsive Engineering by the Strategic Talent team at UNW LLP, and was quickly identified as the right candidate to shape and lead the future of the business in the changing marketplace.

Peter Neal from UNW explained their involvement in the process; ‘UNW have acted for Reece Group as accountants and advisors for many years and have a very strong relationship and solid understanding of their operations.’

‘As an integral part of a business advisory firm that has the long term success of our clients at the centre of everything we do, we approach executive talent sourcing from a different perspective to traditional search. Our rigorous, transparent and flexible methodology is underpinned by three, discrete stages – Assignment Brief, Talent Identification, and Candidate Due Diligence – strengthened further by the firm’s deep client knowledge, market intelligence, strategic experience and technical expertise.

Our aim with Strategic Talent has always been to connect the right people to the right roles in the right organisations and ensure a perfect fit is achieved for all parties. Our tailored, Right First Time, search methodology is reinforced further by our connection to a lot of fantastic talent, and we are delighted that this has resulted in Graeme’s appointment by Reece Group as Managing Director of Responsive Engineering.’

New appointment Graeme Cook, having spent 12 years as director of County Durham-based aerospace giant CAV Aerospace, was brought in to join the existing leadership team and was charged with creating and leading the strategy for the new direction of the group.

Graeme explained his decision to join the group and the challenge ahead; ‘The offer to join the Reece Group was a fantastic opportunity and working through the process with UNW gave me a solid understanding of the business and added confidence to make the move. It’s been clear from the outset that this is an operation I could become instrumental in developing for greater levels of success and I’m looking forward to building a great legacy for this family-run business.’

‘As an outsider you have 100 days to get the measure of a business and tell them what you think of the decisions they have made. The first thing is to acknowledge what the situation and the position we are really in is; what’s working, what’s not working and then give them the roadmap. Unfortunately for Reece Group, a substantial investment in fantastic new premises and the acquisition of an oil & gas business coincided with a world-wide slump in oil that saw prices plummet from $110 a barrel to $47.’

Graeme has had to make some fast and tough decisions but brings with him a phenomenal track record for strategic development & growth; at CAV Aerospace went from £15m-£20m turnover to £70m under his stewardship.

The move to the Armstrong Works in Newcastle in 2014 has given Responsive Engineering 33,300m² of manufacturing space and includes the capability to cut, profile, fabricate, weld and machine a wide range of steels, aluminium and super alloys. In addition, the 20 tonne work piece weld manipulation capability, paint-shop, large capacity vertical and horizontal CNC machining centres, and 16,000m² of under-crane production space provides the capability to offer a complete and comprehensive inspection, assembly and test service.

Graeme said; ‘There’s been a bit of a misconception that if we hadn’t made the move to Armstrong Works there wouldn’t have been a need for restructuring the business. This is not the case – the premises were bought by the Reece Group and Responsive Engineering is just one company within that. The fact is that this world-class facility provides a huge, new opportunity, enabling us to demonstrate our significant talents under one roof and bring in much bigger projects and many more of them.’

‘We’ve had to make hard decisions to get into the right place and create a lean and more capable business driven around top line sales and customer satisfaction. We’re now listening to customers much more and acting accordingly, delivering a better service through improved operational performance.’

‘Armstrong Works gives Responsive one of the most impressive engineering facilities in the UK and we employ a highly skilled and dedicated workforce.  Moreover, the Directors and Management Team remain confident in their long-term vision for the business as a renowned provider of sub-contract manufacturing services.’

UNW Strategic Talent specialise in executive and non-executive search, recruitment of finance professionals, leadership team due diligence and strategic talent planning.

For more information, please visit www.unw.co.uk

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