Alan Pickering Recognised in The Manufacturer Top 100

November 21st, 2017

the manufacturer top 100 2017

Alan Pickering, joint managing director of Unison Ltd has been recognised as one of the Top 100 role models for manufacturing in the UK.

Alan Pickering has been named as a Top 100 Manufacturer exemplar in the Manufacturing industry. Alan was listed in the Manufacturer Top 100 for his contributions to industry and Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“I’m delighted that through this prestigious award our manufacturing standards and company ethos of commitment to investing in people, processes, quality and customers has been nationally recognised. To be nominated and selected in the ‘Top 100 most influential people’ in manufacturing 2017 is an incredible accolade. I’m Very humbled to accept this on behalf of my team” Alan Pickering, Joint Managing Director.

In 2014, The Manufacturer launched its Top 100 project to help improve the image of UK manufacturing and provide a platform to publicly recognise dynamic leaders and innovators in the industry.
Comprising of a report and a launch event, The Manufacturer Top 100 helps to provoke more widespread competitiveness within the sector, highlighting not only best practice but inspiring others to follow suit.
Now in its fourth year, 2017 saw more than 250 individuals nominated by readers of The Manufacturer, the wider industrial community and the public. All of whom have stood out for their contributions in changing the face of industry; finding new markets; making a marked investment in people, processes and customers or for making an impact disproportionate to their years. These individuals were narrowed down to form The Manufacturer Top 100 2017 cohort, with 20 of them profiled in depth to underline their outstanding contribution to the sector.

Alan Pickering is the son of Terry Pickering, founder of Unison Ltd which was established in 1973 to design and build computerised control systems for industry. The Scarborough-based business was responsible for the first computer controls for several well-known tube bending machine manufacturers throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The subsequent decision to design and develop its own full range of tube bending machines saw the business reach new heights. In 1993, shortly after Alan joined the business, work commenced on developing a revolutionary fully automated solution. The team’s efforts were rewarded in 1994 with the release of the first ‘all-electric’ tube bending machine.

A Computer Science graduate from Teesside University – or Teesside Polytechnic as it was then – and with a wealth of experience in innovative system solutions for challenging applications, Alan was responsible for developing the ‘all-electric’ tube bending machines control systems.

Alan assumed the responsibilities of managing director in 2006, and has overseen Unison continue to increase its product portfolio. He puts Unison’s long history of success down to its pioneering use of servo technology to control all moving parts, enabling the building of machines and systems with virtually unlimited control features – an attribute completely unfeasible using hydraulics to move the tooling or part being made, he says.

Joined in 2008, by his now business partner, Julian Kidger, they have grown the business by an average of 20% per year since and now employ 75 people, exporting to over 20 countries, to some of the world’s most prestigious companies.

In 2013 – its 40th year in business, Unison moved into its brand new 25,000 sqft advanced manufacturing facility, shortly followed by winning the Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2015. and in September 2017, the business achieved a significant global milestone with the opening of a manufacturing site in Danville, Virginia (US).

A self-confessed problem solver, Alan is passionate about education and trying to ensure young people receive inspiration from the real world to consider STEM subjects as a career.

As Scarborough Business Ambassadors, Alan and one of Unison’s non-executive directors, Peter Wilkinson played a major role in establishing the ‘Scarborough Engineering Week’. Now in its eighth year, more than 20,000 students 7-19 year olds have taken part to date, supported by more than 50 local companies and educational institutions.

“There’s been a distinct lack of adequate careers advice for young people, so hopefully this helps empower young people to take control of their future,” he notes.

Off the back of that success, Alan and Peter were challenged to open a University Technical College in Scarborough by friend of the business and executive director of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) group, Adrian Allen OBE.

Once again, Alan and his team stepped up to the plate, with Unison and 11 supporting partners helping to establish the Scarborough UTC for 14-18 year olds. With the aim of providing career paths in 21st century engineering and manufacturing, it welcomed its first cohort of learners in September 2016.

“The success of Unison and what we’ve achieved is not all down to me by any stretch,” Alan concludes. “Peter and fellow non-executive director Julian [Kidger], in particular, have really helped me drive the business forward. I may have been singled out, but this is really for all of us.”


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