When you ask someone what makes a good business, the four ‘p’s –purpose, product, people and profit – will often be quoted. Whether you agree with that analysis or not, Stadium Group, an electronics technologies company with operations in the UK and China, has managed to address all four rather effectively.
In the past, it would have been fair to describe Stadium as comprising of a collection of disparate, if successful, business units. Today, that description is no longer accurate. It has been transformed during the past two years into a cohesive group of interrelated businesses capable of offering customers power products, interfaces and displays, wireless devices and electronic manufacturing services. This ‘joined up’ approach is now reaping benefits for a company in which innovation and technology have been placed squarely at the heart of everything it does.
Profits are up and a burgeoning order book, the company’s window into the next twelve months, was up by 60% at the end of 2014, suggesting the company’s strategy of aligning its business with markets for high technology products is working well.
The transformation has involved some difficult decisions, notably the closure of its Rugby facility, but Stadium has now completed its internal restructuring and is looking to invest in its remaining operations in the UK and China, expanding and modernising its engineering and design capabilities as well as commercialising technologies identified as a result of its integrated technology strategy.
Charlie Peppiatt, the company’s CEO, may be modest about his personal contribution to the company’s current success, but concedes that: “Last year was certainly a good one for Stadium. The transformation that was set in motion in 2013 is now showing results. We’ve established ourselves as an integrated technology company and we think like a technology group.
“We’ve strengthened our management team; successfully integrated two businesses – display specialist IGT and United Wireless, following acquisitions; have an EMS business with a global footprint; enhanced our power supply business and established a group technology board.”
Peppiatt spent more than 20 years with Laird Technologies, where he held various roles and had responsibility for more than 7000 employees and a turnover in excess of $400million before joining Stadium in 2011.
“One thing I remember from my time at Laird was that, whenever the CEO visited, the first question he asked was never about profits or sales, but rather about our technology roadmap. It is very easy to talk about being a technology company, less easy to put the necessary components together that deliver that ambition and then to behave like one. Key has been the setting up of our group technology board.”
Built around a ‘cadre’ of engineers from across the company’s different units, the board looks at and assesses new technologies in terms of the commercial opportunities Stadium can derive from them.
“The establishment of the technology board was crucial in helping to refocus the business and in pooling our technological expertise as well as understanding our core competences.
“As with any successful business, it’s crucial you identify the skills available to you and effectively develop those that the organisation needs. The board has been crucial in breaking down the barriers that existed between the different businesses within Stadium and has provided a platform for sharing capabilities and identifying opportunities.”
The group technology board has ‘raised the level of debate within the company and has helped us spot technologies and market opportunities,’ says Peppiatt. “Should we invest in designing and developing a new product ourselves or should we look at acquiring that technology? The debate we have in-house certainly aids and speeds up the decision making process.”
“A good example of that strategy was last year’s acquisition of United Wireless. A specialist in M2M wireless solutions, the acquisition opened up new opportunities for Stadium in a market with huge potential, but crucially it complemented the company’s existing portfolio of products.”
The group technology board has five core members, representing the company’s different divisions. The chair is the company’s commercial director Steve Applegate, who effectively bridges the gap between the technical and the commercial sides of the business.
“In effect, it’s a ‘think-tank’ for Stadium helping to create, share and evaluate then disseminate ideas and information. Set up at the end of 2013, it has now found its feet and is beginning to deliver real benefits to the business.”
The drivers that have been impacting the consumer market – miniaturisation, the Internet of Things, efficiency and power management – are now impacting the industrial space, providing companies like Stadium with a host of opportunities going forward.
According to Peppiatt: “We need to be at the top of our game to when it comes to handling this transition. “However,” he concludes, “while we may not be in a position to fight in every market place, when we align are resources correctly, we are able to punch very hard.”
Charlie Peppiatt joined Stadium as operations director in 2011 before becoming the company’s CEO in 2013. Prior to his appointment, he had spent 20 years working in various roles at Laird Technologies, latterly position of vice president, global operations. Based in Beijing, he was responsible for eight facilities across China, Korea and India with more than 7000 employees – See more at: