VEKA UK discusses Lancashire's future with fellow ambassadors

VEKA UK’s MD Dave Jones joined fellow Lancashire Ambassadors to discuss how this programme will see leading Lancashire business voices working together to amplify and enhance the profile and reputation of Lancashire as a place to live, visit, work, study and invest.

Industry-leading PVCu systems supplier VEKA UK has been based in Burnley since VEKA came to Britain in 1986, and the manufacturer is proud to be a major employer for the area. VEKA UK is very proud of its Lancashire roots – with the majority of its 380-strong staff living within the local BB postcode – and this community spirit led MD Dave Jones to became an official founding Lancashire Ambassador alongside the likes of Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.

The inaugural event was hosted by Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire and the group met at the Seafood Pub Company’s Assheton Arms in Downham, where they enjoyed a Lancashire dinner created by Taste Lancashire Ambassador chef, Mark Taft. Lancashire Ambassadors are: BAE Systems, Barnfield Construction, Blackburn Rovers FC, Booths, Conlon Construction, Forbes Solicitors, Panaz, Scorpion Automotive and VEKA UK.

The ambassadors had a wide-ranging and frank discussion about the opportunities and challenges faced in their sectors, the diversity of the Lancashire identity, infrastructure, skills and retention and the fast-moving digital landscape; each sharing their views on how these influence and impact on business in Lancashire and how working together to champion the county on a regional, national and international level, they can help bring even greater recognition to the county. 

VEKA UK MD Dave Jones highlighted the need for companies to offer ongoing digital skills training to stay ahead of the curve: “Even in what some may see as more ‘traditional’ manufacturing businesses, the required skills are increasingly digital. I believe it’s vital for companies to embrace digital skills in order to maintain an ‘edge’ in such a competitive market, and we’re very lucky to have such a wealth of talent, innovation and training opportunities here in Lancashire.

“VEKA UK’s digital approach and investment in new technology, like 3D-printing, has been transformational in the way we do business. The cost of 3D-printing a potential new product is only a fraction of the cost of more traditional prototyping and minimises commercial risk by allowing us to trial new components before committing to further investment in tooling and development. Online channels like our website and social media profiles play a crucial part in staff recruitment for the business, as well as enabling us to demonstrate new products and services to customers quickly and clearly."

With significant strengths in aerospace and manufacturing, Lancashire is a world leader and elevating those messages is vital to attracting more innovative and creative businesses to the county. The group also agreed that one of the main drivers for investment and business relocation was quality of life and that more could be done to highlight Lancashire’s assets, building especially on the rousing #WeAreLancashire film created with fellow Ambassador Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire commented “The inaugural meeting of the founding Lancashire Ambassadors was an opportunity to discuss the Lancashire economy, culture and lifestyle with a good cross-section of representatives from some of the best-known brands in the business community.

“Our shared goal is to raise the profile of Lancashire as a prime location for investment, education, skills and the best quality of life. The Lancashire Ambassador Programme will help us take the county brand to ever wider audiences, to new international marketplaces and to position Lancashire at the heart of national conversations linked to economic growth and prosperity.”

Find out more about VEKA UK’s commitment to the local community at vekauk.com/careers

Pictured (L-R): Pauline Rigby, Forbes Solicitors; Nigel Murray, Booths; Dave Jones, VEKA UK Group; Tony Attard, Panaz; Rachel McQueen, Marketing Lancashire; Mark Downing, Scorpion Automotive; Craig Smith, ICT Reverse; Dave Nuttall, BAE Systems; Steve Waggott, Blackburn Rovers Football Club.