Changes at the top at Citizen

Citizen Machinery UK creates the next generation of senior management via internal promotions

Posted on 08 May 2017 and read 1405 times
Changes at the top at CitizenGeoff Bryant recently relinquished his role as managing director of Bushey-based Citizen Machinery UK Ltd.

He was succeeded by Edward James, who joined the company in 2012; Darren Wilkins becomes deputy managing director, and Jon Hart becomes finance and administration director (these three have more than 70 years’ experience of machine tool and related businesses between them). Mr Bryant will continue as business advisor to the new team.

Mr James said: “This is an exciting time to establish the future progression of the business, based on the new management team developed by Mr Bryant with full support from the parent company in Japan.”

Mr Wilkins added: “Over the past few years, we have been progressively developing a team of key people to ensure a smooth succession when Mr Bryant left. We have a shared responsibility covering finance, sales, technical support and involvement in product development.”

Mr Bryant, who was recently appointed president of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (a position he will retain for two years), remains a director of Citizen UK’s sister company (Hestika France) until March 2018, when Mr Wilkins will take on this responsibility.

He is also a director of Citizen Macchine Italia (Citizen’s Italian operation), and he will be expanding the European sales operation.

Citizen Machinery UK currently employs 48 people and has recently expanded its sales team to support the increasing the number of machines available in the Citizen and Miyano ranges — along with the continually developing technology and capabilities that the machines feature — and to expand the customer base.

Director profiles

Prior to being appointed as managing director, Mr James (47) spent five years as technical manager, responsible for the UK and Ireland and building the business into a provider of turn-key solutions; he was also tasked with streamlining the sales and customer support processes. During this time, he built his team up from 22 to 30 people.

“The business is still growing, and sales are on course to meet a projected increase for 2107 of 25-30% over last year. This is a big challenge, as it requires ever-higher levels of technical support so that customers can maximise the benefits offered by our latest technologies.”

Citizen 2Over the last five years, Mr James has been consistent in his drive to reduce the average response times for on-site support.

His team achieved a one-day ‘first-fix’ record in 2016, with more than 90% of breakdown call-outs being fixed on the first visit.

Another of his objectives was to draw younger people into the business to focus on IT and software. As a result, he also became involved with helping to train and educate Citizen’s network of European dealers, which is based on the proven ‘Citizen UK model’.

Mr Wilkins (52), who has been with Citizen Machinery UK (and its previous incarnation NC Engineering) for 26 years, says that his responsibility for sales and marketing continues in his role of deputy managing director, as does his management of overseas distributorships involved in the global operations of the parent company.

Mr Wilkins is always keen — and proud — to classify his occupation as ‘an engineer’. He served a seven-year apprenticeship with a leading valve and hydraulics specialist in the South East, qualifying as an electro-mechanical and electronics engineer. He worked as a field service engineer in the printing sector, before joining NC Engineering in a similar role in 1989.

He moved into machine sales in 2002 and was appointed sales manager in 2009. He subsequently took responsibility for certain overseas territories of Citizen (working from the UK), including Israel, the Middle East and Africa, Scandinavia, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Mr Wilkins was promoted to sales director of Citizen Machinery UK in 2011.

Citizen is currently supplying 800 machines a year throughout Europe, with half of them in Citizen Machinery UK’s sales areas. Since 1974, more than 7,250 machines have been sold in the UK and the European territories that Citizen Machinery UK serves.

Mr Wilkins says: “The business has changed dramatically, and we are now fully geared up as a ‘tailored solution’ provider. Projects with customers increasingly involve additional processes integrated with turning and milling; these include Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) cutting for swarf control, laser machining and hard turning. There is also an increasing demand for automation.”

Though appointed as finance and administration director, Jon Hart (37) maintains a key role in the on-going development and implementation of the Customer Relations Management system (CRM) that he designed and coded during his previous role as European business systems manager.

This system forms the backbone of the company’s operations in both the UK and Europe; as finance director, Mr Hart will also liaise with Citizen’s operations in Germany, Italy and France.

The CRM system has recently been extended to incorporate spare part stock control and visibility in the UK and Germany, along with strategic links to the head office in Japan.

“What is important as the business moves forward is how the CRM system forms a foundation to improve customer support and helps to identify the early stages of any developing or potential service issues.

“Citizen Machinery UK has invested heavily in IT and support systems, and we are now rolling out the proven business model across other European sites.”

Mr Hart started his own software business after taking his A Levels in 2000. His first client was Macro CNC — at that time, the UK agent for Miyano fixed-head lathes. He developed a program for managing spare parts and quotations.

In 2002, Mr Hart joined Macro CNC. He was initially involved in administration support, but was promoted to company secretary and finance manager when Miyano Machinery UK was set up following the acquisition of Macro CNC by Miyano Machinery Inc.

Miyano Machinery UK was merged with Citizen Machinery UK in 2011, and Mr Hart’s role included the further development of his software and integrating it with the Citizen operations in the UK, Germany, Italy and France.

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