My Week: Howard Waghorn of i-plas

The entrepreneur explains why the media has got the wrong end of the stick about recycled materials...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I don’t mind confessing that I’m a real early bird. As soon as my eyes open, I get out of bed and, most days, that’s at 5.30am. It means I’m always in the office by 7am and allows me to beat the traffic, get some clear thinking time and get lots of work done before the phones start ringing and everyone else gets into work.

This week has been an interesting one for us as we took delivery of a brand new, innovative piece of machinery from the USA, which produces roofing and nailer battens, as well as other useful products from 100% recycled, mixed plastic waste. It is, we think, the only one of its kind in the UK and I’ve been putting a lot of time into fully understanding how we can exploit the benefits it provides the business. This machine, and the products it can create, is currently sending shock waves through the UK’s historically conservative construction industry.

Looming on the horizon is the 2009 Ecobuild exhibition, which takes place at Earls Court in March. This is a major event in our calendar, at which we’re planning to launch a brand new product: a kerb stone made from 100% recycled plastics. So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to that concept and, in particular, how we can maximise our impact at Ecobuild.

As you can see, we’re doing a lot of work on new product development at the moment and I’ve been involved in a number of meetings to ensure speedy delivery of our new products to market. We have a major announcement coming soon and I need to ensure that my team is in position to move quickly once this announcement is made publicly. As ever, we need to keep a close eye on our budgets, so I’m currently fine-tuning our capital expenditure plans in light of the new product development and, importantly, communicating those plans to our investors Foresight Group.

I also need to keep abreast of the latest industry news. There’s a lot of talk about the merits of recycling at the moment, but the media in particular has missed the point. The critical element is the end use of recycled materials and, particularly in times of recession, it’s crucial to have a defined purpose for the material that is being collected.

Finally, and just in case you’re worrying about me, I do find time to relax away from work! I can often be found at my local dojo teaching karate. I teach everyone from new starters through to high-level brown belts; it’s definitely my way of releasing the stresses and pressures of the day and ensuring I maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Howard Waghorn is Managing director of i-plas, the ultimate recycled building material, which is a direct replacement for concrete, steel and wood. Made from recycled polymers, it is being used in applications as diverse as bridges, footpaths, walls, fences and flood prevention, as well as architectural uses.

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