LDC Top 50 2023
Nick Imlah began his metal-bashing career in 1991 when he and his wife started making stainless steel tables for butchers’ shops. His ambition has seen his company grow from these small beginnings to a £60 million-turnover business.
Today, Unitech Industries is a stainless steel and mild steel specialist, creating everything from supermarket trolleys, counters, conveyors; and spray booths for painting UK missiles. “We started with nothing,” he says. “Initially, it was all about providing for the family but we have done that, and the driver is now to create a name that is respected worldwide. With Unitech, I have created something worthwhile.”
Initially, it was all about providing for the family but we have done that, and the driver is now to create a name that is respected worldwide.”
How have you grown this business?
When one sector suffers, another is booming, so we are very adept at switching our focus. We grow organically but we have also made a number of acquisitions, usually buying businesses out of administration. As a company, we avoid debt, and this is a lesson that was brought home by these deals – all of these companies struggled because they had heavy debts. Debt is a killer if you’re not in control.
How do you engage and motivate your people?
We reward our staff and provide job security. Some of the people who work for us have been here 30 years, and have introduced their children to the business. That’s when you know you have loyal staff. We are also big on development, and help people to switch careers. Two of our recent hires came from the agricultural industry but had a change of heart, so now we are training them as welders.
What’s the secret to your success?
Staying positive. I’m a glass half full person. Even when the company has been through tough times – like the bird flu outbreak or mad cow disease, which crippled some of our biggest customers – I go into work smiling. If your people see you looking down, with a sour face, they worry. You have to stay positive.