Secrets of Success: Marcus Brew, MD at UNTHA UK
Waste is a hot topic right now as companies battle to reach their ESG commitment
Enter UNTHA UK; working to supply innovative solutions to help the country’s waste operators effectively deal with some of the most complex material streams – spanning metals, plastics, and waste wood, to waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), mattresses, tyres, municipal solid waste (MSW), and more. Once shredded, the resulting material can usually be reused, remanufactured, recycled, or sent for energy recovery.
Their aim is to promote a circular economy and encourage the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra within the UK, but to also equip the country’s waste operators with the machinery and expertise to help make this a reality.
With a 25-year career working with technically complex capital equipment and being been involved in multi-million-pound blue-chip engineering projects around the world, Marcus Brew, MD at UNTHA UK for over ten years, shares some of his Secrets of Success with Business Matters.
What products or services do you provide?
UNTHA UK – part of Austrian-headquartered UNTHA Shredding Technology – is a globally renowned industrial waste shredder specialist.
We’re committed to getting to the heart of the UK’s waste agenda – delivering technology and advice that sees the UK satisfy stringent environmental targets. We help to facilitate a more circular economy for the country’s waste – maximising its resource potential – and ensure our clients achieve the greatest return on investment from their waste shredders.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We work with waste operators, recyclers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), production facilities and other environmental innovators across many sectors.
These organisations typically produce and/or handle ‘waste’ materials including – but not limited to – such as WEEE (redundant electrical equipment), MSW (aka general waste), bulky (everything from carpets, tyres, and mattresses to large domestic appliances), plastics, metals, hazardous (batteries and hospital waste), organic, confidential, waste wood, and many more!
What is your USP?
We are known throughout the world as ‘the reliable brand’. We’ve been around for over 50 years – and we’re proud to hold one of the most prestigious shredding heritages in the waste and recycling industry.
Also, for us, it’s never solely about the initial machine sale – we also truly care about our customers’ ongoing profitability. In the machinery industry, suppliers’ focus is often on the order and little else, but we’re as much an aftercare and aftersales brand as we are the manufacturer of the machines.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
Of course, there are many, but for us, innovation – in the truest sense – is a core part of our company values. It’s a word that’s often overused, but when it comes to life at UNTHA UK, we’re so close to customers and industry that we’re constantly working to understand which challenges the sector needs our help to solve – and how engineering by design can help. Our commitment to innovation means that materials which have previously been considered uneconomical to shred, can now be handled with ease and without costing the earth.
Also, we genuinely care about and are respectful of one another and our customers. This is a key principle of teamwork, which should be a given, but in many companies isn’t. This sees our colleagues committed to our customers for the long-term, being that true partner long after the initial sale.
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
From experienced engineers and shredding experts to those just starting out in their careers, we’re always keen to hear from people who are passionate about environmental projects, and this shines through in our recruitment process.
It’s not always about recruiting people from industry, however, it’s also important to find colleagues with the right core skills, values, mindset, and approach – who have the integrity and passion to uphold what UNTHA stands for. This means that we are willing to take a chance on employees, even if they don’t have the sector experience, as a lot of this can be taught – honesty and a strong moral compass can’t.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Absolutely. The nature of UNTHA’s customer-facing business model means we’ve always adopted hybrid working – long before the pandemic.
We have clients in all corners of the UK and overseas, so it’s not a typical 9-5 job. Our sales colleagues are regularly out in the field, engineers are on the road daily, and our aftersales team works collaboratively with customers to deliver everything from operator training to ongoing shredder optimisation packages on client sites. Colleagues do also work from home, but hybridity is considered ‘business as usual’ for our team.
Earlier in 2022, we were acknowledged in the Digital Enterprise Top 100’s Top 10 performers – awarded ‘Leading Light’ status. We were granted the prestige due to our deeply ingrained technology infrastructure that runs throughout the company – allowing us to work in multiple locations with ease and remain ultra-connected to both staff and customers, regardless of location.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
There are many tips but, ultimately, it comes down to being a decent human being – treating others how you would wish to be treated, having open communications at the earliest opportunity, and sticking to what you say you’re going to do as best you can. It sounds simple, but so many brands fall down in these areas.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
We believe that all organisations – no matter their size – should have access to the most innovative and ROI-driven equipment. In its early stages, a company may struggle to raise the capital needed for such machinery, and our advice is to partner with a manufacturer that both understands this and offers support.
We offer a range of UNTHA Finance options that are tailored to meet the needs and objectives of the individual waste and recycling business – enabling positive outcomes not only for the firm but the UK’s wider waste management agenda too.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
Omit the unnecessary red tape. While legislation and targets are, of course, important – helping to drive innovation – what is often restrictive is overly laborious paperwork and rules that perhaps aren’t aligned with the wider agenda of making progress.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
At UNTHA, we have a rich and well-respected heritage. While it’s not uncommon in competitive markets for it to be ‘dog eat dog’, this isn’t an approach we get involved in. We don’t partake in price wars, treat competitors and the wider industry with respect, and don’t go chasing after other companies’ business – there are enough opportunities out there for everyone, and we know where we can add value and what we’re good at. We try to always keep one step ahead of competitors too, by keeping in touch with customer and market requirements. And even though we have a well-established heritage, we never rest on our laurels or let innovation slip.
We’re constantly looking through a future-focused lens, at not only which new materials we can help customers shred, but how they can shred smarter with reduced energy costs, less maintenance and wear, and higher uptime and throughputs, too.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
We will certainly continue being visionary – pushing the boundaries of innovation and quality to meet clients’ ever-evolving industrial waste shredding requirements. We’ve created many effective processing solutions for materials that have previously been overlooked for their resource potential – due to being deemed too much of a headache to process – and this is something that will forever be in our DNA as a business.
Furthermore, it’s also vital for us to maintain our service levels. These can often slip when a company grows at pace and economic pressures ramp up, but it’s a non-negotiable to keep our eye on the ball.
Our unwavering commitment to upholding our professionalism extends across the entire organisation. We recently passed the rigorous on-site ISO recertification process for three standards – quality, environmental, and occupational health and safety. For us, this isn’t solely a tick-box exercise – they truly underpin our management system, which allows us to maintain standards across every department. And this will continue to be important as we grow.