Gate 7: New partnership with NRG following significant period of growth

Team Valley based decal manufacturer and North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) member, Gate 7 has seen an increase in turnover of over 30% in the last 12-18 months, prompting their recent partnership with NRG.

Kate Wickham, Managing Director of Gate 7 said: “Gate 7 has gone through a strong and significant period of growth which has presented a real need for us to start growing our management team, bringing in skills and expertise that we’re missing to help us grow, not just in the short term but in the medium to long term too.”

Kate shares some insight into the business and her decision to partner with NRG in the search for a Production Manager.

Can you introduce yourself and the business?

Established in 2000, Gate 7 is a specialist decal manufacturer supplying to construction equipment and agricultural markets. We essentially manufacture printed labels for application to equipment and machinery – supplying to the likes of JCB, Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo.

I joined Gate 7 in 2005 having just finished University in Leeds, and I have now been with the business for 13 years!

Initially, I worked on the shop floor picking and packing for customer orders. Progressing into account management, I was given responsibility for the JCB account which actually grew to be one of our biggest. Involved in all aspects of the business, it was managing this account that really gave me my grounding before I became MD in 2012.

How did you find the switch from an operational role to a strategic role?

Difficult! One of the things we should have done was recruit someone else to take on some of my existing account management responsibilities! I found myself still wanting to keep a foot in operations. Having been involved with the JCB account from day one, I felt personally invested and it was really difficult for me to remove myself completely from operations. Even today there are still a few bits that I like to…interfere with!

Where do get your learnings and understanding of best practice from?

I try to network as much as possible. Since meeting Stuart at the Automotive Alliance, he has been very good at introducing me to people within the industry – other companies that are similar to Gate 7 so we can connect over how we do business.

I also work closely with other local industry suppliers and it’s always useful to be able to speak to them about how they do things and bounce ideas off them.

When you meet new people and they hear Gate 7’s story, they always have someone they can put you in touch with! Networking plays a big part in understanding best practice and it’s an aspect of business that I really enjoy.

What made you partner with NRG on the appointment of a Production Manager?

When I made the decision that a Production Manager is definitely what we needed, I turned to my network of North East contacts and it was Stuart from the Automotive Alliance that I got in touch with. Explaining what we were looking for, it was NRG that he recommended. They paid me a visit the very next day to take a brief and discuss our expectations and within just a week or so, we were receiving some shortlisted candidates – it was great!

How did you find the shortlisting and interview process with NRG?

The personal touch NRG provides was evident from the outset. They took the time to find out about us, what we do and what we need which was a huge relief as the recruitment of this role was critical.

They were brilliant in arranging interviews, but more importantly, they also offered to do the second interview with me which I really appreciated. Interviewing together gave me a greater confidence as they had a good knowledge of operations, production and what makes a good production manager.

Their consultant was 100% invested in finding the right person for Gate 7.

What was most vital to you in making the best hire?

They had to have the right cultural fit with the company – but at the same time, I wanted someone that I knew was different in a way to what we already have here. Their background, skills and experience needed to be complementary. It was a bit of a Yin and Yang situation!

How did you find the offer process with NRG?

Discussions around salary were very helpful and I found that they made very honest recommendations as to the offer we made to the candidate. Sometimes my preconception of a recruitment agency has been that they’re just out to get the biggest fee possible and I almost expected to be pushed towards offering a higher salary – but that wasn’t the case at all! My experience with NRG has completely changed my perception of recruitment agencies.

So your Production Manager is now in post – how is he settling in?

He’s doing really well. He has made a real effort to learn what we’re doing and how we’re doing it – getting to know the individuals and the different personalities we have here. He has some great ideas and is already in touch with a supply chain expert, looking at value stream mapping. He is very conscientious and focused on putting together a plan with clear strategic steps. I also think his people skills will be invaluable – he is really good at engaging with people.

How do you see this role helping to grow Gate 7 in the future?

I think the critical first steps will be in helping us really get back on top of things following our period of rapid growth. Many of our internal processes and controls have fallen by the wayside so we really need to focus on bringing that all back in.

I hope that we’re going to start seeing a much more structured approach to the business – how we’re manufacturing, how we’re managing people etc.

I want to ensure that all of our employees feel valued and they know when they’re performing well which will involve putting measures in place so that we have production data readily available to share – something tangible.

How do you see your partnership with NRG progressing?

There has been a brilliant personal service delivered and NRG really cared – not just about filling the position but finding the right person for the position.

I would definitely recommend NRG and we’re already in the process of working together on a number of other key appointments within the business.