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Board Members

Michael Straughan – Chairman

Member of the Board, Manufacturing, Bentley Motors

Michael Straughan joined Bentley Motors on 7th February 2011

As a member of the board Michael directs all the Company’s manufacturing operations including production, planning, logistics, lean operations and general plant operations.

Michael joined Bentley Motors from Jaguar Land Rover where he was Operations Director for the Halewood plant. In a career that has also included spells at Nissan, Volvo and LDV, he has extensive experience in a number of manufacturing plants both in the UK and abroad. Roles have included operations, material planning and logistics, manufacturing engineering as well as a variety of specific processes. He has extensive experience in lean manufacturing and new product introduction. He has also been very active in the wider business environment having been a Board Member of both the Liverpool and Knowsley Economy Boards. He is Chairman of the Northwest Automotive Alliance.

A BSc from Coventry Polytechnic and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Michael is originally from England’s North East and remains an avid Newcastle United Football Club supporter in his spare time. He lives in Cheshire and is married with two children.

Peter Hammond – NAA Director

Managing Director, Auto Marine Cables

Peter represents SME’s on the board as he’s worked in his family business for over 30 years. Auto Marine Cables was founded in 1964 and the business has transformed from a chain of retail shops selling automotive accessories into one of Europe’s largest manufacturer and distributor of automotive cable and electrical accessories. Peter has seen the business go through a transformation with the successful implementation of ISO 9001, Investors in People and in the last 7 years working on business improvements using lean manufacturing tools and techniques.

Steve Williams – NAA Director

Managing Director, Force Technology Ltd

Steve Williams is Managing Director of Force Technology Ltd based in Lancashire.

Force Technology is a new and innovative manufacturer of precision compression springs, principally for high risk and critical quality applications.

The company was created by Steve and his business partner in 2015 after they had spent the previous 19 years building a leading manufacturer of springs for engine valves, fuel injection, transmission systems and fluid power.

Markets are global and include a range of transportation applications from passenger cars, light and heavy trucks, to locomotive and marine power.

Companies under Steve’s leadership have achieved various awards including the Northern Automotive Alliance’s Company of the Year Award and Lancashire “Passport to Export Award” from UKTI

Steve has a wide ranging employment experience in operations, project and engineering management in the mechanical engineering, automotive and aerospace sectors.

With a BSc in Physics, he is also a director of the Institute of Spring Technology and has various interests including local history, classic cars and sailing.

Peter Carter – Board Member

Managing Director, Camcoat Performance Coatings

Over twenty years of experience with automotive oems Perkins Engines and Garrett Turbochargers from development engineer to aftermarket MD and working with companies in Europe, USA, Japan and Africa. Spent the last 23 years setting up Camco88, Camco Automotive Ltd, Camcoat Performance Coatings and Diamondyze Ltd. Grateful for the help, including financial through the Business Excellence programme, received from NAA so pleased to serve on the board as SME member to give something back.

Paul Croxford – Board Member

Finance Controller, Vauxhall Motors Ellesmere Port

Paul Croxford has been Finance Controller at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port Plant since April 2008.  The plant is ‘Home of the Astra’, having built all Astra models over the past 35 years, and is sole producer of the Astra Sports Tourer.  It also produces the 5-door Astra hatchback.

Paul is a senior member of the management team that has overseen changes at the plant enabling introduction of the current Astra models into build at Ellesmere Port during 2015 and 2016, as well as working on continuous improvement to the plant’s process, quality and efficiency levels.

Since joining Vauxhall in 1985, Paul has worked in a finance capacity within the Aftersales, Sales and Marketing, Powertrain and Vehicle Manufacturing operations.

He has a BA Business Studies degree and is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Denis Culloty – Board member

Chief Engineer , Leyland Trucks

Denis Culloty is Chief Engineer at Leyland Trucks & leads a team of 120 engineers responsible for the design & development of the DAF LF & CF 65 range of trucks.

Denis has a BEng degree from Liverpool University and is a Chartered Engineer & a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Away from work he spends time at the gym, running, walking his golden retriever or following his beloved Everton Football Club.

Michael (Mike) Dickinson – Board Member

General Manager Automotive, SMMT Industry Forum

Mike has over 25 years of Automotive experience gained through a wide ranging International career.

His career started in the mid ‘80’s in North East of England with the Nissan Group.

In 1993 Mike joined General Motors as an internal Lean Manufacturing Consultant a position that led to a series of international assignments of increasing responsibility cumulating in being Director of Supply Chain for GM’s International Operations Region.

In 2012 Mike joined Qoros Automotive based in Shanghai China as the Company’s first Chief Supply Officer.

In 2015 after spending 22 years based overseas in European and Asian locations Mike decided to return home to England and took the position of General Manager Automotive at SMMT-Industry Forum.

Mike posses a broad experience base, has lived and worked in multiple countries and managed global operations. He possesses a career track record with deep functional and operational credibility in Logistics, Supply Chain and Lean Manufacturing and has developed the capability to operate at a strategic level within organisations as well as broad experience in building business processes & systems, people capabilities and operational management.

This makes him ideally suited to lead SMMT-IF’s Automotive segment and support UK Companies on their path to excellence.

John Ellis – Board Mamber

Managing Director, MWS Distribution

John Ellis joined Motor Wheel Service in 1986 and guided the company’s move into the CV sector in 1990, since when the business has established itself as one of the leading independent distributors and developers of commercial vehicle wheels throughout the UK and Europe.

The business began in 1928 as a supplier of automotive wire wheels, with John brought on board to establish a distribution network for their key product.  Having successfully achieved his goal he noticed a gap in the market, and using the company’s close relationship with manufacturing giant Wheels India, a second distribution network was established to sell CV wheels to the growing UK after sales service.

As the business rapidly expanded, Wheels India responded to feedback by improving the quality of its wheels and expanding the selection, which now incorporates a comprehensive range of steel and forged aluminium wheels for the truck, trailer, bus and coach aftermarkets.

Having developed a Tradition of Excellence, Motor Wheel Service is now the only aftermarket company in Europe who ensure all wheels are homologated to OEM standards.  John is also at the forefront of the CV wheel safety issue, raising the profile of the item as a safety critical element of any operational vehicle and lobbying the Department for Transport and leading organisations to introduce a comprehensive set of standards.

Motor Wheel Service Group also encompasses Industrial and Earthmover Wheels and Special Fabricated Wheels.

Before his current role John worked with Manchester Police, joining as a bobby on the beat in 1962 before leaving in 1984 when he held the title of Detective Constable

Richard Else – Board Member

Operations Director, Halewood, Jaguar Land Rover

Richard, 44, was appointed to his new position at the beginning of February 2011. He has been leading the expanding Jaguar Land Rover team through the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque. In 2012 the Halewood workforce will grow to over 4,500 as the new Range Rover is built alongside the award winning Land Rover Freelander 2.

Richard has worked for Jaguar Land Rover for over 20 years having joined as a graduate trainee in 1989. Prior to joining Halewood, Richard was Operations Director at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich facility for five years where he led the launch of the new XK, XF and the the all new XJ, as part for the transformation of the Jaguar brand and the revolution of the Jaguar showroom.

He has also held senior positions across Jaguar Land Rover in Production Operations, Manufacturing Engineering, Launch and Quality.

Richard has an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, an MSc in Engineering Business Management from the University of Warwick and is Chartered Engineer with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Clare Farnworth – Board Member

Director, Xemptor Consulting Limited

Clare has more than twenty years’ experience in the automotive industry holding purchasing management positions with Rover Group, BMW Group and the Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin divisions of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. She is e xperienced in sourcing, supplier evaluation, supplier management and team leadership including the management and mentoring of buyers required to achieve demanding objectives in quality, cost, delivery and partnership with suppliers of both materials and services.

Since 2007, Clare has been a Director at Xemptor, a management consultancy specialising in purchasing and procurement strategy and operations. Recent projects with Xemptor include development of training and assessment materials for procurement, in particular sustainable procurement and working with organisations across a number of sectors to improve purchasing and tendering performance.

Clare is a graduate of Aston University and holds a Diploma in Technology Management from the University of Warwick. Since 2011, Clare has been a member of the CIPS Certification Advisory Board and Chair of the Board of Trustees at Furniture Matters, a charitable training, re-use and recycling organisation based in Morecambe. Clare joined the NAA Board in February 2012.

John Myers – Board Member

Head of Apprenticeships, National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

John Myers has been with the National Apprenticeship Service since its inception in April 2009.

John is Head of Apprenticeships in the Manchester office and has responsibility for Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Warrington and Staffordshire. His role is to support significant employers in the area to develop their workforce through Apprenticeships and enable young people to access Apprenticeship opportunities.

The Automotive sector is very important to the National Apprenticeship Service with Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Vauxhall all employing apprentices in numbers. John is committed to continuing to support the industry to grow and be successful through Apprenticeships.

John has worked in Education & Training all his working life at a national, regional and local level and is member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply. John lives in Stockport and is married with two children .

Dr. Chris Owen – Board Member

Chief Executive, SMMT Industry Forum

Chris Owen started his professional career as a Quality Engineer at Perkins Engines back in 1996. He held several roles in the manufacturing operations centred around quality, product and manufacturing process integrity in volume manufacturing and new product introduction and launch. After successive promotions he transferred into engineering, design and product development and was responsible for the performance and emissions development of several emissions compliant Perkins products.

In 2004 He transferred to France to become Managing Director of Caterpillar’s Rantigny manufacturing facility in Northern France. After successful implementation of manufacturing operations and supply chain transformations he then went on to become EAME Director Of Manufacturing for nearly 5 years and drove the development and implementation of Caterpillar’s Production System, CPS, into 38 manufacturing locations across EAME.

Chris then moved to become the Quality Director for the Industrial Power Systems Division of Caterpillar based in the UK. After nearly 16 years of service Chris left Caterpillar in September 2011 to become the Chief Executive of SMMT Industry Forum.

Chris has a wealth of practical and theoretical experience in the field of operations, manufacturing, supply chain, Leadership, NPI and quality which positions him well to lead Industry Forum to provide class leading solutions for their clients.

Scott Tolson – Board Member

Chief Executive Officer, Sigmatex Group

Scott J Tolson – Chief Executive Officer, Sigmatex Group and is responsible for the strategic direction of the Sigmatex Group.

Sigmatex is a UK based technical textile manufacturer and one of the world’s leading converters of Carbon Fibre. Having expertise in this field since 1972, they have grown rapidly to meet ever increasing worldwide demands for their products and services.  Sigmatex currently has five manufacturing facilities, two in the UK, two in the USA and one in Shanghai, China. Servicing the growing demand for carbon composites Sigmatex has a strong global position in markets where “light weighting” is increasingly important, particularly in automotive and aerospace.

Scott’s main focus is in the development of strategic alliances with the carbon fibre manufacturers and key customers worldwide, the coordination and control of the significant investments in R & D, Technologies and the expansions in manufacturing capacities, whilst ensuring the individual operating units perform in line with the expectations of the Shareholders. Scott has been with Sigmatex since 1996. Prior to this he has held various Director and Management positions in a variety of manufacturing businesses involved in composites, engineering, oil & gas and the chemical industry. He has worked in the carbon fibre composites business since 1988. He is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and holds a Bachelors Degree (with honours) in Accounting and Finance.

Liz Towns-Andrews – Board Member

3M Professor of Innovation, CEO, 3M Buckley Innovation Centre

A trained chemist, Liz graduated with a PhD in X-ray crystallography before joining the Research Council system.  She also has an MBA and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Her first position was as a scientist at the UK’s original synchrotron radiation source at Daresbury in Cheshire working closely with UK academics.

Prior to arriving at the University, her role was Director of Knowledge Exchange for the Science and Technology Facilities Council developing the organisation’s strategy for Knowledge Exchange and Economic Impact.  During this time she have gained extensive experience of working with industry, of providing hi-tech services, the commercialisation and exploitation of IP, and of taking forward public/private partnerships. She led the development of the national science and innovation campuses at Harewell and Daresbury.

On joining the University of Huddersfield in September 2009, Liz became Director of Research and Enterprise and is also 3M Professor of Innovation.  Liz has responsibility for centrally supporting and underpinning the University’s research and enterprise strategies, identifying opportunities for development of research activity, strategic partnerships and collaborative R&D activity. She is the University representative responsible for regional and local engagement with LEP and regeneration activities.  Liz was awarded a Professorship in 2012 and is now the University’s 3M Professor of Innovation.  She established and is the CEO of the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, a new model for higher education working with industry and in recognition of this she received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in summer 2013.

Paul Wilkinson – Board Member

Technical Director, mi Technology Group

Paul Wilkinson has been Technical Director of mi Technology Group for the last 14 years having previously worked at MIRA and BAE Systems.  Mi Technology is a leading provider of analysis, testing and consultancy services to the automotive industry and operates one of Europe’s most comprehensive independent automotive test laboratory’s.

Paul has a PhD from the University of Leeds and a batchelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bristol University.  He is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and an active member of the Lancashire Area and North West Automotive groups of the IMechE.

Away from work, Paul spends a lot of time raising funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and is often seen on the back roads of the Ribble Valley training for the next challenge event that has so far included: the 3 peaks; abseiling off the roof of Old Trafford; walking non-stop coast-to-coast; and walking from London to Brighton… on stilts.  Even his 3 Newfoundlands have more sense than to try and keep up.

Allan Wilson – Board Member

Engineering Manager, Pirelli Ltd's UK factories


Allan Wilson is Engineering Manager for Pirelli Ltd’s UK factories. As Chief Engineer, he is responsible for the company’s physical assets and 120 people involved in investment projects, maintenance, facilities and energy services at Pirelli’s Carlisle and Burton on Trent sites.

His wide international experience has been built up over 14 years in senior Production and Engineering positions including 4 years based in Italy where he had worldwide responsibility for Energy Services and Maintenance in Pirelli’s 22 factories.

Born in Carlisle, he has been involved in some notable successes during this time, including the Carlisle site being awarded the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenence, TPM award for manufacturing excellence; the first time this prestigious award had been awarded to a UK factory, and only the second time outside Japan.

Allan is a Director of the Cumbria Employment and Skills Board, Employer Advisor to Carlisle College and is board member of the Carlisle Economic Partnership.

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