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4 minute read

10 Questions With – Dick Turpin, MD of ITP Group

1. If you were prime minister, what would be the first thing you would change or improve for manufacturers?

I would change the educational system to place more emphasis on the practical education of young people. Our current system is too weighted towards students gaining a degree, and often this is without gaining practical knowledge or skills. With the skills gap becoming a much more pressing issue, it is vitally important that we are engaging students throughout their education so that they know there are other (and sometimes quicker and more effective ways) of getting into engineering and manufacturing rather than needing a degree.

2. What is your proudest career achievement so far?

There are three major achievements in the 40 years we have been in business. In 1993, we were awarded the contract to supply Sellafield Power Station with the nuclear fuel inspection machines. These at this time were some of the most sophisticated machines built for measurement and had 13 axes of CNC control and stood 6m high. In 2003, we were appointed to supply McLaren Automotive with their new state-of-the-art design studio, which had to be positioned on the first floor of the building. This was 18m long and considered by the competition to be an impossible task. Since that date we have been appointed by McLaren to solve several other problems. In 2005, we supplied Beijing Space Corporation with an 8m high machine to measure their communication satellites. Since that date we have supplied a further five machines.

3. What drove you to pursue a career in manufacturing and how old were you?

I started work at the age of 15 as an apprentice engineer in the tool room for Bradford Engineering company. I rose to be Chief Development Engineer by the age of 30 years old. At 32 years of age I commenced work with a German machine-tool company and became their general sales manager for the United Kingdom. During this time it became obvious to me that there was an opening for an inventive engineering company to manufacture within the UK. I started ITP in 1978 and we now have a reputation for solving complex problems in the measuring and styling industry.

4. What is your view on post-Brexit Britain – positive, negative or indifferent and why?

I do not think Brexit will adversely affect my business and in general the British engineering/manufacturing industry. British people have always been a very inventive and, particularly in engineering, with the correct encouragement from the government I do believe we could actually benefit from being outside the common market. We welcomed the governments initial Industrial Strategy and are looking to see these promises come into effect.

5. How do you see smart technology (IoT & Industry 4.0) affecting the long-term growth of UK manufacturing?

Obviously to survive the company must embrace new technology. However, the danger is that we ignore the basic principles and this can be disastrous. You must always keep an open mind and keep abreast of modern technology, but not forget the basic principles of engineering. One and one will always make two, the way we get there might just change a little.

6. What one thing would you change to make your business more efficient and productive if money was no object?

If money was no object I would invest in high-quality machine tools. We produce beautiful machines for the best automotive manufacturers in the world, technology is always moving forward and it is getting hard to keep up with the movement towards Industry 4.0.

7. What’s one thing you have implemented in your business that you would encourage other manufacturers to embrace and implement?

The most important thing we have done over the last 40 years is to bring the manufacture of key components into our own manufacturing facility where we can control quality and delivery times. As for all manufacturers, it is vital that quality of products does not slip as this can have dire consequences, not only for the business but for the client as well. Because we have brought the manufacture of key components in-house we can make sure that corners are never cut and quality is never compromised.

8. How do you think the manufacturing community can collectively continue to engage and interest young people in manufacturing careers?

We actively work with higher educational establishments and show students how exciting a career in a manufacturing company can be. Unfortunately, in recent years there has been too much concentration on attaining degree level without understanding the basic principles. Because of this there needs to be more done to get the attention of young people. School children should be encouraged to pursue a career in STEM from a young age, girls especially need to be targeted with a more positive and engaging program around manufacturing and engineering. The industry is missing out because manufacturing companies are not engaging with educators as they should. Talk to your local school and colleges about career days. It can only help.

9. Any wise words, advice or tips for someone looking to pursue a career in manufacturing?

An open mind and listening skills are vital. You must always keep an open mind and most importantly listen to your customer as he/she is the person who will keep you in business and make your company prosper. They are coming to you to help them solve a problem sometimes it takes some out of the box thinking to get the right solution. A drive to innovate is key.

10. If you could choose, what would you like your legacy to be once you retire?

I would dearly like to carry on as a consultant for ITP Group and help guide the company, which will then be run by a management team I have trained. ITP is my legacy and I am incredibly proud of it.


10 Questions With… is a regular feature where we put a variety of quick fire questions to manufacturing leaders and role models to get to know the people behind manufacturing success in the UK.

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