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“Events, dear boy”: Why Businesses Need to Adapt Through Change

The British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan was once asked by a journalist what the biggest influences were during his time in No. 10.

“Events, dear boy, events”, was his simple response.

The point that MacMillan was making was that whatever plans, policies, and strategies you have in place, things will happen which cannot be foreseen. These events, these major disruptors to business as usual, demand a response.

Shifting your strategy and priorities in light of unforeseen, disruptive events, is not just the job of politicians. It is a key part of the day job for business leaders too. Over the past 18 months, we have seen the way in which enormous changes in the operating environment have transformed the business model for UK companies, including ENL as one of the country’s leading injection moulding companies.

Change: Opportunity and Threat

These external challenges can provide both opportunity and threat. What is key is the way in which businesses respond.

In fact, the corporate world is full of examples of successful businesses that have found their niche almost by accident, in response to shifting priorities in the world. Some of the companies that are household names today, may have started off doing something else, before social, political or technological changes came along and prompted a shift in their activities.

Companies like Suzuki, Japan’s fourth largest motor manufacturer, which started off making looms for the Japanese silk industry, not starting to make cars or motorbikes until the mid-1950s, as the country rebuilt after World War II.

Or household names such as petrochemical giant, Shell, which began its life in 1833, with founder Marcus Samuel selling oriental seashells from his London bric-a-brac stall. The demand was so great, he began importing them from the Far East, creating the basis for an import-export business that would grown into one of the world’s largest companies.

At the same time, the business world is also full of cautionary tales of companies that were too slow to adapt to changes taking place around them. Take Blockbuster, a company once worth over $5 billion which was slow to respond to shifts in technology and new market entrants such as Netflix. Netflix originally posted out DVDs to people to watch at home, but the company was far quicker to identify and embrace the potential of streaming, an innovation which ultimately led to Blockbuster’s demise.

ENL: From Pianos to Planes

ENL itself is a family-owned business which has its own roots in responding to the changing technologies and demands of society. Originally, the forerunner to our current company was a piano maker, that diversified it’s manufacturing to start making wooden components for the landing gear of aeroplanes.

Over time, those wooden components became metalwork, and eventually, as technologies and markets changed, our focus shifted to plastic injection moulding and high-end engineering.

Aerospace is now a key part of our business, with ENL being the partner of choice to some of the world’s most respected aerospace brands such as Airbus, GKN, Fokker and Honeywell. And it all started with a small family firm making and repairing pianos.

Responding to COVID

The current global health emergency is the most disruptive event outside of wartime, changing the way that businesses work, the markets that they sell to, and the steps that they take to keep staff and customers safe.

Some of these modifications will be a short term refocusing of activity, whilst others will be changes that will be around long after the virus has gone.

In the early days of the pandemic, in particular, we saw many incredible examples of the ingenuity, and agility of UK manufacturing. Whether it was Scotch whisky producers turning their processes over to making hand sanitizer, or clothing giants producing Personal Protective Equipment, the response of the UK business community has been awe inspiring.

We even saw Formula 1 super-team, McLaren respond to the urgent need for ventilators by designing, developing supply chains for, and manufacturing a new ventilator. From a standing start, within just 10 weeks, the company had provided over 13,000 new ventilators, doubling the stock available to the NHS.

Who knows, perhaps in a decade’s time, McLaren will be better known for producing medical equipment than racing cars? However, it is not just these big, one off projects which will be the business legacy of COVID. All businesses will have had to adapt to changing circumstances, putting new working practices in place, embracing digitalisation, and shortening supply chains to make sure that production could continue.

Keep Moving Forward

The lesson for all businesses is that to remain successful, change cannot be ignored or wished away. Disruptive events, and new technologies will continue to emerge, and the most successful companies will be those that are quickest to identify and adapt to new operating environments.

ENL is a business which, over the past 60 years, has constantly evolved to respond to changing technologies, and shifting customer needs and expectations. We have achieved this by always investing in the latest technologies, and by constantly listening to our customers and designing solutions which meet their changing requirements.

Change is not a one-off event, it is a constant. At ENL we will continue to scan the horizon, and innovate, in order to ensure the needs of our customers continue to be met for the next 60 years.

About ENL Group

ENL Group is based in Portsmouth, UK and Veľké Kostoľany, Slovakia. Established in 1958, we have been servicing UK-based and European companies for decades. Working with a secure supply chain, ENL provides quality components for quality-driven customers – with full certification for all of our products and quality checking at every stage.

Operating 24/7, we design, manufacture and deliver critical components for our customers across the UK and Europe.

Contact Us for more information about ENL and how we can help your business.