Martyn Hale of HME Technology Limited
Martyn Hale, chairman of HME Technology Limited, talks all things management, innovation and the importance of employing the right people.
What does HME Technology do?
Established in 1985, HME Technology Limited has over 30 years’ experience manufacturing, supplying and installing an extensive range of D&T engineering and vocational equipment for educational establishments, specialising in Heat Treatment Equipment.
Key staff are trained and certified by NEBOSH, Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH affiliate) and British Occupational Health Society. HME also supplies Fume Cupboards and Ventilation Systems for Science Departments, and offers an LEV testing service for both Science and DT Departments.
What does your role include?
‘A jack of all trades and master of none’ was my first reaction, but when you run a family business it’s about leadership and nothing being impossible. My specialism is sales, but in a business like ours where we design, manufacture, install and commission, you have to have reliable employees and we cannot afford duplication. Therefore you have to understand all aspects of the business so I have sold and built machines, installed them and serviced them too. Now I focus on export sales whilst my son in law manages the operations.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Aged 15 I worked in retail in a men’s outfitting family business (we sold school uniforms too). I joined H J Heinz where I consider my graduation into being a professional salesman took place. Following a successful stint at HJ Heinz I went on to sell steel re-enforcement, then system buildings, ultimately formed a partnership with my father in law to sell industrial vibrators and air cannons. The air cannons were so successful I formed the family business in 1976 and in 1985 I invested in HME Technology Limited.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A person that understands that we are destined to leave the earth better than we found it and goes out and achieves that aim. However you require a dedicated team and I am very grateful to have such a fantastic group of people around me.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Funding my aspirations! I have a huge vision for HME and the sector we find ourselves in; however, you need money to put such ideas in to action.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Having a wonderful wife who has a tremendous level of patience and has always supported me in my work. She helps me to ‘switch off’ when I’m out of the office, cooks fine food and we love live entertainment at the fabulous Symphony Hall Birmingham. Which is important if I want to keep giving my best.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was one of the tallest out of my friends at school, so I always fancied myself as quite the policeman (as you naturally do)! Mind you a close 2nd was the Royal Marines with immaculate dress and white helmets.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I think untidy surroundings reflect a very negative persona, so I always encourage my staff to keep the business tidy whether that be in our office or contracts all around the world.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In a much improved financial position due to the current world view on our specialist sector. It’s pivotal that Design & Technology soon becomes a core subject within secondary schools, if we, as a nation, want to compete economically on a worldwide level.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Always make sure you employ people who are compatible with your business, they need to share the same values as you. You also have to create a team spirit and some people struggle with that concept. I’m a big believer in working together we can create great things.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
The understanding, meaning and benefits of a Quality Assured system. This was a poorly delivered control procedure when first introduced, but by the time I became an entrepreneur I had finally written a system that followed what we did and it became a wonderful tool. We now know how to change the system for the better, should it fail at any time. It’s all about traceability and responsibility. It also gives confidence to our customers.