When kitchen catering equipment company boss Nick McDonald became managing director of a Lincoln manufacturing business in 2014, he fulfilled a long-held ambition.
Promotion came nearly 20 years after he joined rapidly expanding Lincat Ltd, when long-serving MD Steve Mitchell retired.
Timing wise, moving into the hot seat was the logical next step for Nick, who had worked his way up from marketing and export manager to become a director in 2000, having promoted and sold the company’s range of products around the world.
He would have needed a crystal ball to have predicted that Lincat would become part of a $2 billion American multi-national by then.
This feature interview was first published in issue 68 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
However, the Middleby Corporation had made its move in 2011, clearly realising that the home-grown company on Whisby Road was too good to miss, especially when it perfectly complemented the American giant’s already substantial portfolio of more than 40 brands.
Nick – only the third managing director in Lincat’s 40-year history, after John Craddock then Steve Mitchell, is now forging ahead with opportunities offered by an overseas owner which has invested in the Lincoln operation and opened the door to wider markets.
Most of the former directors were somewhat older than Nick and three of them have taken retirement. This gave Nick the opportunity to pull together his own management team, including Finance Director Jonathan Dove (who succeeded Terry Storey), Sales Director Rob Gibson (an internal promotion) and, most recently, Jon White who succeeded Eric Wintersgill as Technical Director. Lincat’s experienced Production Director, Drew Elsigood, completes the board team.
Most importantly, he is delighted that Lincat remains a significant player within Lincoln’s manufacturing scene and one which supports a highly-prized local supply chain.
Centre of excellence
“Middleby, which is based in Elgin, near Chicago, Illinois, is very acquisitive. It has three main divisions, one supplying commercial food service equipment, another serving the domestic market and a third involved in food processing equipment,” said Nick.
“It has brought several benefits to our company. For instance, we are now recognised as the Middleby manufacturing centre of excellence within Europe, thanks to our very well organised and efficient factory, which has resulted in the manufacturing of some product lines being transferred to us in Lincoln.
“Whilst any request for major capital investment needs to be justified, over the last two years Middleby has spent £1.5 million on equipping us with a new laser cutting machine and an additional robotic welder.”
When Nick became managing director, he was passionate about rising to the challenge of driving Lincat’s sales by grasping every opportunity to bring forward new products and promote them effectively.
“Up to that point, I had felt that we had been a little too inward-looking and production-oriented. I believed we needed to become more customer-focused and increasingly flexible in order to grasp new international opportunities, which is a strong area for Middleby,” said Nick.
Continue reading the full cover interview with Nick McDonald in Issue 68.
For the latest dispatch of business news from across Lincolnshire delivered in your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the Lincolnshire Business magazine.