Les Ashton-Smith - Heber Managing Director

7th October 2013

Meet the team – Les Ashton-Smith, Heber’s Managing Director

This month we meet with Les Ashton-Smith, Heber’s Managing Director to find out what drives him, and what his views are on the changing world of electronics.

Les joined Heber in 2008. Attracted initially to a company he considered had great technology credentials as well as potential for growth, he has not been disappointed.

Les comments: “Heber as an opportunity was incredibly appealing. There was a great team already in place and its basis in engineering was a key driver for joining. Deep down, I have a passion for electronics and a fascination for what things can do. Heber is a place where we aim to solve technical challenges and real life problems which allows me to indulge this passion – whilst running a successful business.” He adds: “There also seemed to be great capacity for extending the solutions that Heber offered from our core markets into other consumer areas. That challenge has been incredibly exciting and we have made great strides into several new arenas – and there is still more that I think electronics can do for other markets. So there is plenty of challenging work to do to bring electronics capability to other areas.”

A great deal has changed within the market since Les joined Heber. Of particular note, he says, is the clearer understanding of value and price in manufacturing. Buyers are becoming much more sophisticated in their approach which means that purchasing decisions are now more considered and potentially better for both client and supplier. In the future, Les thinks that total costing, although currently in its infancy, will become a greater driver for purchasers. It will, therefore, also require more transparency from vendors.

He comments: “Total costing – focusing on price, quality and delivery – is in its early days but more consideration is being given to elements such as green miles. I think there are genuine moves in this direction, which is interesting, I don’t believe the UK should be frightened of this development. We should aim to be the best we can be and use this and other market changes as an opportunity to challenge off shore manufacturers for the middle ground.” In addition, the way consumers interact with products has also changed dramatically. Les says: “’Is there an App for that’ has become the mantra of the consumer. They are much more connected in their everyday lives and therefore, their expectation of devices is much greater.”

What does Les feel will change in the business environment generally and the electronic market specifically over the next five years? He thinks that access to funding for businesses may continue to be difficult over the next few years. Although there will still be opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.

Les comments: “Project Merlin is of particular interest in trying to change the landscape of business funding.” Changes within electronics will be just as fast paced. Les says: “There continues to be more and more connectivity. Electronics solutions that have been expensive will continue to come down in price allowing more consumers to do more things. For example, controlling central heating remotely.” Les adds: “The key to ensuring electronics design has a valuable role to play will be to become closer to the end user and ensure that the user interface is simple and intuitive.”

Away from Heber, Les has a deep interest in the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci. He has spent many summers travelling across Europe visiting significant da Vinci artworks in situ. His latest trip was to Florence and Milan. Whilst in Italy, Les also took a diversionary trip to the Ferrari factory again indulging his fascination for how things work!

To discuss your electronic design and manufacturing solutions in more detail, please contact les.ashton-smith@heber.co.uk


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