Managing Director, Martin Smith has announced he will be stepping down from his MD role at JJ Smith & & Co. (Woodworking Machinery) Ltd. Also signalling his phased retirement from the company is Sales Director, John Stanley. Martin & John, both born on 23rd August 1957, are 3rd generation family members, that have worked for the company for 39 and 46 years respectively.
Martin Smith joined the company as the company accountant in August 1983, having qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked in the drinks industry as a management accountant. On arrival he introduced the first computer to the business which had up that point prepared its accounts in manual ledgers. In the 1990’s he was appointed as Managing Director and was responsible for a period of controlled expansion underpinned by increasingly sound finances. In the late 1990’s Martin was able to spend less time on the management of the company and moved into sales whilst retaining his role as Managing Director. He used his accounting knowledge to see that an opportunity existed for the justification of optimising crosscuts in particular to increase both productivity and yield to make this equipment financially beneficial for customers. This led to the company becoming the market leader in such machines – a position it has retained for many years. Around 2000 he was responsible for the move by the company into the offsite construction industry which culminated in the setting up a joint venture Modular Building Automation bv. This market segment is now the largest of the areas the company is active in.
John Stanley’s journey started in 1976 with an initial role to train in the tooling and spare parts departments, mainly to gain knowledge of machinery operation for the joinery and furniture industries. In 1977 the company was appointed exclusive UK importer for SCM machines manufactured in Italy and he was appointed sales manager for all the equipment. After spending 2 months in Italy training on the SCM machines, the wide range became a huge seller over the coming years and the company’s turnover rose exponentially with sales of classical machinery and more specialised edge-banders, beamsaws, moulders and CNC routers. Additional equipment from other major worldwide manufacturers was added over the next 5 years and became a mainstay for the company’s continued growth to this day.
John was appointed sales director in 1986, being responsible for the purchasing and selling of all used machinery for the company. This led to worldwide travel visiting customers and attending exhibitions in Australia, USA, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand and Russia. During the early 90s he negotiated and completed the largest order in the company’s history at the time – the supply and installation of a complete furniture factory to Sytvytkar in Russia which took JJ Smith technicians 5 months to install and commission.
On stepping down from a full-time role in September this year John will remain in the business assisting the next generation of family (Ian his son being one) in the run up to the company centenary celebrations which will be held during the whole of 2023. During his semi-retirement he will enjoy more holidays, walking his dog Buddy and continuing his lifelong passion following Everton Football Club
Whilst stepping down from the day-to-day management of the business and retiring from the position of Managing Director, Martin will also still be involved part time in the business maintaining an oversight role for the larger offsite projects. A 3rd generation family member, he has been keen to retain the business within family ownership and has sought to promote suitably qualified familiar members over the years. He is pleased that his daughter Dr Rachael Baker is able to take over as Managing Director. As a fitting gift to a keen beekeeper (and past president of the British Beekeeping Association) Martin was presented with beekeeping equipment produced by one of JJ Smith’s customers EH Thorne (Beehives) Ltd.
Rachael says “on behalf of everyone at JJ Smith we are incredibly grateful for the phenomenal dedication to the company that Martin and John have shown over the past 4 decades. Through their careful and courageous leadership JJ Smith has grown into an internationally recognised business and I am honoured to be part of the team that aims to continue that work into the future.”