World Cement talks with John Connelly, President of the Materials Handling Engineers Association, about his career, the challenges facing the cement industry, and his proudest career achievement.
Briefly describe your jobs.
Both roles are similar. As Managing Director of Kingfisher, I define objectives for the business, I plan the strategy, and work with the team to facilitate the plan thereafter. As President of the MHEA, I head the Executive Committee. We focus on the association’s objectives, while trying to improve on its performance each year for the benefit of both members and the industry we serve.
In your view, what is the biggest challenge facing the bulk materials handling industry?
I would say that the biggest challenge for the industry is the continually changing landscape of the customer base and their needs. This arises because of new rules and regulations. Our customers have to respond and adapt their business models to accommodate those rules – and we have to follow suit. We can start with Plan A, but we need to have Plan B and Plan C in place in order to ensure we can always deliver what our customers need.
In the UK, it would also be easy to suggest that Brexit will be our biggest challenge. It will certainly be interesting to see what will change. I think we will continue to follow international and EU regulations because there is an international will to protect the environment and reduce certain practices. The UK is a big player on the world scene and we are not going to suddenly go against the flow: we will comply with what is just and fair.
What strategies can the UK employ to solve this challenge?
We need to have a long-term, cohesive plan, from top to bottom. Government and the organisations involved across the supply chain need to realise the implications new decisions may have for suppliers of both products and services, as well as end users.
For example, quite rightly, there is lots of talk of having a greener energy policy and the promotion of non-fossil fuels. Yet when the “Beast from the East” winter storm arrived, that part of the conversation was very quiet. When it comes to creating realistic solutions for business, we need a balanced, thought-through approach that allows for all scenarios to be accommodated, not just a single solution that sounds attractive but has a number of limitations that have not been properly considered.
What is the MHEA celebrating this year and what is next?
This year sees the MHEA celebrate 80 years as an association. That is quite a pedigree and there will not be many companies in our industry that have continued in the same format for as long. That being said, we do not rest on our laurels. I have been involved with the association now for over five years and certainly in that time I can say that we are always looking for further improvement; we do not just sit around talking shop. We want to see the MHEA grow, with all our objectives aligned, with members all travelling in the same direction.
Tell us something we may not know about the MHEA?
Perhaps surprisingly, we have quite an international appeal and our Secretariat continually has contact with overseas associations and businesses requiring assistance or support for issues they are experiencing. They look to our members for help with those solutions; despite being a predominantly UK-based association, the MHEA does help people further afield.
What is your proudest career achievement?
It has to be having the opportunity to employ other people. There is a perception that business owners are only focused on themselves but, in reality, most of us are doing it for the benefit of other people as well. I personally get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that I have employed a number of people over 25 years. That means I have made a contribution, however small, to their growth as a person, both professionally and personally, had an influence on them as a mother or father, and in turn, they are providing benefits to our society as a whole. That really makes me feel proud: the fact that I have given something back.
About John Connelly: Connelly is the President of the Materials Handling Engineers Association (MHEA) and Managing Director of Kingfisher Industrial, a manufacturer of wear-resistent process plant and equipment. Having travelled and worked throughout the world in primary manufacturing and process industries, Connelly has encountered the full plethora of industrial experience from the manufacture and installation of equipment and project engineering through to senior operational and sales responsibilities.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/special-reports/06092018/five-minutes-with-john-connelly/