Born and bred in Northamptonshire, England, Graham Speechley graduated from Loughborough University of Technology in 1979 with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering & Management.
In at the deep end
Very shortly after graduation, Graham was promoted to Production Manager and began to learn his management in the “deep end”, running a small iron foundry and then a plastic moulding operation. As the roles became more senior, increasing customer contact in the automotive industry led to him moving into a commercial position. He worked with both the Western and Japanese multinational automotive OEMs, developing new concepts with them and turning these ideas into real production opportunities.
Joining the Benteler group in 1990 (over 17,000 people worldwide) as UK Automotive Sales Manager, Graham worked with the automotive industry to establish Benteler as a major supplier into the UK market. In 1997 when Benteler needed to build a plant in the UK, Graham was made MD of the newly founded Benteler Automotive UK. He had full P&L responsibility for the initial £14m green-field investment including site selection, building, recruitment, and volume start-up.
£55 million turnover
While Graham was MD at Benteler Automotive UK, the UK Company grew from a startup to over 200 people and an annual turnover of £55 million. Products were large welded assemblies such as the chassis for the Range Rover and also the Jaguar S-type and XJ.
Then, a turnaround
In 2003, Graham became General Manager – UK Operations for Metzeler Automotive Profile Systems in Leicestershire. He was responsible for two plants and a total of 830 people making rubber and plastic sealings for cars (mainly the rubber round the doors and windows). Customers were Nissan, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Volvo, Saab, Jaguar and Land Rover. With some difficult and testing times, the business was brought back into profit. Restructuring, pension reforms and strict controls turned around the business in two and a half years.
Having achieved a successful turnaround from a difficult position when he joined, Graham left Metzeler in May 2005 to look for a Management Buy‑In opportunity. During this time, he also undertook research into areas of business support and studied at Henley Management College.
The Business Leaders Group
In early 2006, Graham, with Chris Chater, started Northamptonshire Leaders Group, now Business Leaders Group, www.businessleaderslearning.comwhich is firmly established as an exclusive learning organisation for business owners, directors and senior partners from different industries and sectors, private and public, large and small. The Groups provide a confidential forum where Members meet with other business leaders from differing backgrounds and find solutions for their major challenges. Chris and Graham continue to grow the Groups in parallel with their other independent activities.
Graham led the MBI at Arnold (Hose) Ltd in Northampton in 2006, where he was Managing Director until 2011. The Company manufactures and distributes metallic flexible hoses to many different industries, including filling station forecourts and the building and catering industries. The business was sold to the much larger Abcon Group in 2011.
Involvement in the wider community has been a passion for Graham throughout his career. He was a Governor of a local School for 13 years, for 3 of which as Chairman. In 2001, he was asked to Chair the Corby Education Action Zone forum, was a Board Member of the Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce and is a Past President of the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) East Midlands. Graham also represented the business community by being co-opted onto the East Midlands Regional Assembly where he chaired the Public Health Task Group.
Afluent German speaker, Graham is married with two adult children. For relaxation, he supports Northampton Saints Rugby Club and enjoys photography (his web site is at www.purelightphoto.com)..