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Build & Sustainability

Q&A with Freddy Bourdais, co-founder of Plastic Mouldings Northern Limited

Tell us about Plastic Mouldings Northern, and your journey so far?

Plastic Mouldings Northern Ltd (PMN) is a regionally rooted business operating on a national and international scale. Based in Bishop Auckland the company was set-up in 2002 by myself and business partner Mark Rigg.

The main output at PMN is the production of vacuum formed plastic parts, which sees PMN supply high quality and often very intricate moulded parts to an array of industries. As vacuum forming specialists, the company has over 150 years combined experience in the field and the expertise within the company in this area continues to drive the company forward.

We are celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year and as a leading industry innovator we’ve grown year on year ever since inception, building up a prominent reputation across the manufacturing sector globally with customers and industry peers.

Collaboration and innovation have been at the forefront of our expansive growth trajectory with strong investment in building long-standing working relationships. Over the years our wealth of knowledge and prominent reputation has seen us work with London Underground, McLaren, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, JCB and BAE Systems.

Who or what inspires you?

To leave a legacy of innovation. Over the years I’ve brought a number of products to market in the UK and I’m always looking ahead to the next innovative market opportunity.

In the early days I worked around the concept of the shopping trolley coin which was performing well in Europe, and I was part of the team to bring it to the UK. As exclusive distributer we’ve recently introduced the JOUPLAST® range to the UK market. Again, another high growth product internationally and a concept that is now innovating the UK construction and landscaping sector.

This thirst for innovation is paramount to me, alongside the determination to work for myself, to succeed and have the freedom that ultimately comes with working for yourself.

What are the short and long-term objectives for the business?

We never stand still. We’ve benefited from high growth which saw the doubling of turnover/profit in the last couple of years. In the interim we want to nurture and manage this growth at a steady rate.

Steady growth remains at the forefront of our operations, and this is achieved through our collaborative and innovative capabilities, alongside assessing new market opportunities.

Key investments are paramount to what we do and alongside investment in a new site, machinery and holding stock we’ll be investing in staff.  We’ll grow our sales team and we’ve also enhanced the senior management team with the appointment of a new General Manager.

Diversification is also another key mechanism of growth here, alongside our core operations in the production of vacuum formed plastic parts we have a number of other arms to the business. We are now the only stockist of new plastic containers and plastic pallet boxes in the North East. Plus, the largest dealer of reconditioned plastic pallets in the UK and are at the forefront of providing a more cost-effective and yet still durable option for customers.

As mentioned we also partner with French firm, JOUPLAST® and hold the exclusive contract to distribute a range of products including their adjustable risers (which ensure decking and paving slabs sit evenly) across the UK and Ireland. The products which recently featured on BBC DIY SOS are stocked by Homebase, Wickes, and Amazon, with turnover in this part of the company alone hitting over £1m last year. The product range has seen high growth in France, and this is something we are focussed on replicating in the UK and Ireland market over the coming years.

What has been your biggest business challenge to date, and how did you overcome it?

Acquisition of premises has been a huge business challenge. Over the years there has been a substantial shortage of industrial buildings in the North East, in particular in Bishop Auckland. We are heavily rooted in the area so we were hesitant to relocate. Fortunately, with time we’ve managed to expand across three premises.

The lack of premise availability did however make us streamline our services and identify which areas of the business were more important in terms of stock holding, but it has definitely been an obstacle.

And finally, what’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Don’t work for the bank, be self-sufficient. Be ready to lose what you make and replough your profits into the business, that is the ethos we stand by.

Plastic Mouldings Northern