LDC Top 50 2021
PP Control & Automation (PP C&A)
“You don’t take over a business and pour in blood, sweat and tears if you don’t have a burning ambition to see it grow,” says Tony Hague. PP Control & Automation builds control systems and assemblies for many of the world’s biggest equipment manufacturers.
Tony has grown the business tenfold to reach almost £30m this year and isn’t done yet: “We want to become a major global exporter,” he says. An apprentice engineer by training, Tony works with local schools, colleges and universities to bring new talent into the industry. “Kids today still think manufacturing is low-paid, dirty and Dickensian. We have a moral obligation to change their minds.”
Kids today still think manufacturing is low-paid, dirty and Dickensian. We have a moral obligation to change their minds.”
What was your plan when you joined the business?
When I joined, PP C&A was supplying 50 customers in all shapes and sizes. We were sending out lots of quotes and winning some and losing some. My strategy was to focus on supplying larger OEM customers. We now have over 20 customers and they are all world leading in their industry. It was a strategic approach to growth and one that is working well for us.
Where do you get your drive?
I come from a family of engineers and, as a kid, I was always playing with batteries and wires. My father was an automotive engineer and he encouraged me to follow that path – and I loved it. But as I continued in my career, I had the opportunity to work across all kinds of departments. That drove me to put myself through night school to get my management diploma and my Chartered Institute of Marketing diploma. When the founder of PP asked me to join the business, I turned him down several times. When I finally heard him out, I realised it was a really interesting business with lots of potential. That potential is what drives me today.
Where do you get your best ideas?
I have a bolthole in Wales where I go with my wife. I spend as much time as my wife will let me fishing. That’s where I have my best ideas. You can’t think on the business when you’re in the business. But when I’m walking up a mountain or sitting on the riverbank contemplating life, that’s when I have my best ideas.