Interview: Phil Green, Sales Director, IPS Ceramics
Phil began his career in ceramics at world-renowned producer Wedgwood, where he gained 17 years’ ceramic manufacturing and technical experience. In 1989 he joined kiln furniture producer Acme Marls in an export sales role. When Acme Marls became part of Dyson Group in 2000, Phil was appointed Commercial Business Manager of the new setup. This led to Phil becoming a Founding Director of IPS Ceramics in 2009.
In addition to his broad technical knowledge of high-temperature ceramics, Phil has traveled all over the world and has particularly strong ties with the major North American ceramic product manufacturers.
Please tell us about your current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?
In many instances we are selling a name and a system as much as a product. Visiting customers and collaborating with them to constantly improve their production facilities remains as important today as it’s always been, and it takes a fair amount of my time as the company’s Sales Director.
Together with the VP over here in the USA – Mike Jackson – I get all over the country and we work closely with top producers of tableware, sanitaryware, technical ceramics and tiles. Increasingly, I also spend a great deal of time promoting our growing portfolio of technical ceramic materials to a wide range of user industries; indeed, very much typified by the profile of visitors to Ceramics Expo.
What inspired you to join/start this company?
Ceramics answer the call for high-performance components in so many different areas and, although proven over millennia, there’s never a day when something new doesn’t crop up. Coming from the region that is the beating heart of the industry in the UK, it’s something that’s in my blood, and the opportunity that presented itself back in 2009 to help create IPS was too good to be missed. We have come a long way in a relatively short time and our team, two-thirds of which have been with us from day one, is determined to take us a great deal further.
What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?
Any number of factors come into play in high-temperature processing, and a whole host of unexpected things can happen (not all of them good!) – so we certainly never pretend that there’s a simple, off-the-shelf solution. Around half of the people at IPS have spent virtually their whole working life in ceramics, and I think that is unusual. In addition to this particularly strong knowledge base, we place great value on strong communications. Our customers know that they can contact us at any time; rather than putting up any barriers, we aim to facilitate a free flow of information at all times.
What are the key opportunities and challenges your company faces at present?
Meeting the needs of so many specialist applications certainly keeps us occupied. We have always had a rapid prototyping facility to help with the design and reworking aspects of the business, and now we have introduced some in-house machining for certain products. Dealing with custom orders is simultaneously one of the key challenges and one of the key opportunities. It is an advert for the collaborative approach offered by IPS Ceramics.
Are there any new technology developments that you are working on at the moment? Can you tell us about them?
There are certainly interesting projects underway in the area of electrical applications and, although I can’t say anything at this moment, I do expect to be able to demonstrate our versatility in this sector at the actual expo next year.
What would you say most excites you about your role?
Seeing the face or hearing the voice of a happy customer has to be up there.
What do you hope to achieve at the show next year, and what connections do you hope to make?
Extending our reach is always the primary goal. We fully expect to connect with the user industries for our technical ceramics. We hope very much that the manufacturers from within the ceramic industry itself – sanitaryware, tableware, refractories, tile, electrical and electronic ceramics – visit Ceramics Expo as they are bound to discover so many more advanced solutions than perhaps they are currently aware of.
IPS Ceramics will be exhibiting at Ceramics Expo 2018 in booth 441