Meet the MD: Andrew Lane

The ability to inspire is what Andrew Lane, MD of Leeds-based Union Industries, believes makes a great business leader. BQ caught up with him to see how he puts this into practice at Union.

What is it your role entails? 

To make sure all the processes are joined-up in such a way that they provide outstanding customer service to go with our outstanding product range.

I keep the business looking forward and continuously improving by sharing the Operating and Financial data with the employees and identifying where we need to focus our efforts.

It is also my role to ensure we have an excellent company culture where people enjoy their jobs, make a difference and have fun.


What is it the company does?

Union Industries designs, manufactures (in Yorkshire), installs and services the very best, bespoke, high quality and durable high speed doors on the market, which are employed in sectors such as warehousing and logistics, food manufacture and storage, pharmaceuticals and the motor manufacturing industry.

We also have a high-end Industrial Fabric Engineering team, focused on providing solutions to segregation and protection problems.

What we don’t do is pile product high and sell it cheap; we are a high quality service provider in all that we do.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

The ability to inspire.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

To guide the company into Employee Ownership in such a way that it takes everyone along and delivers real advantage to all the stake holders.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I believe stress is just the absence of a solution to a given problem.  Focus on finding the solution rather than stressing about the problem.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t think I wanted to grow up.  I’m still not convinced that I have!


Any pet hates in the workplace?

Negative thinking and those that lack passion for what they do. A great man once told me not to waste my time lighting fires under damp wood.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

An evolution of its current self, more R&D and exploring new markets through organic growth without losing the uniqueness and culture of the company.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Surround yourself with the best people; you can’t do it alone, success is a team outcome.


Where did you start your career?

I started my career at Caterpillar as an Engineering Designer.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

I started at Caterpillar as a designer and three years later I was offered a Project Manager role at one of its key suppliers, Bergstrom Europe. It’s there I developed a passion for manufacturing and 10 years later I left to establish a UK manufacturing plant for an American company, a business I later sold to another UK Manufacturer before having a complete change of Direction and entering the Children’s Playground sector.

Here I discovered the Employee Ownership model and the advantages that it brings to a mutually owned business. EO, to me, is about walking away from corporate greed and the distribution of the profits around the higher echelons. EO brings equality of ownership, reward and also accountability.

Get it right and it’s a great business model where everyone is pulling in the same direction and all have the passion to succeed and share in all that success brings.