As the manager of MANN+HUMMEL’s Wolverhampton plant, I know the importance of having an extensive network. This is why we repeatedly meet with contacts from other businesses and associations, to foster open discussion at this level. We also regularly seek contact with authorities in order to establish a regional and national network that reaches beyond the business association.
I was therefore pleased that Gavin Williamson was able to visit us a few weeks ago, despite his numerous Cabinet meetings and the impact of Brexit. He is our local MP and the Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chief Whip, the parliamentary secretary of the Conservative Party.
When politics and business meet
It is widely known that the United Kingdom intends to leave the EU. There have been a lot of discussions about Brexit and its consequences. We have also been considering the potential impact for us here at MANN+HUMMEL. This development was therefore one of the key items on our meeting agenda and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. We had a very open and honest discussion and Mr Williamson also answered critical questions. Mr Williamson took our remarks and concerns extremely seriously and will put these forward in the government’s deliberations.
What impact will this referendum have on MANN+HUMMEL UK? We export around 30% of our goods and our main customers are other European countries. We are now facing the possibility that the free internal market currently in operation might be at risk from trade restrictions. Another important point is maintaining free movement of labour. As yet there are no more specific plans for Brexit. We therefore agreed to meet again in the spring to take a further look at the situation. With ourselves acting as industry representatives, we will re-reflect on planned measures.
This visit was also an excellent opportunity for us to present our company and our products. A plant tour allowed us to provide an insight into our production processes and workflows, and gave ‘politics’ a glimpse behind the scenes of ‘business’. Our employees are especially important. We were able to use the large number of ongoing activities to demonstrate how we’re supporting our employees’ development in England and in general at MANN+HUMMEL.
The visit was scheduled to last an hour but the wide range of topics described above and the in-depth discussion of Brexit meant that it actually lasted for three very interesting hours. The whole team was extremely pleased to see our MP showing such interest in our company. The thank you letter we received from Mr Williamson afterwards confirmed that this had been a positive visit and invited us to contact him if we ever have any concerns that need to be tackled and discussed at a political level. His letter also included the following invitation: “[…] if you or your team are ever in London it would be very nice to show you around my place of work and have a catch up.” We’re packing our suitcases already because London is always well worth a trip!