In the Company of Mavericks

Jeremy McKeown has fascinating conversations with entrepreneurs who dared to be different.

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July 3, 2024

The Importance of Resilience with Simon Phillips of CT Automotive

In this episode, Julian Collett of Blackdown Partners joins me for a conversation with Simon Phillips, the founder and CEO of CT Automotive, a £50m market cap, AIM-listed company. 


Simon’s journey is a powerful example of how adverse circumstances, can be a fertile ground for learning and growth. His story underscores the crucial role of resilience in business success. The development of a business supplying tooling and components to the global automotive industry is a testament to Simon’s well-honed entrepreneurial skills and can-do attitude, forged in the face of adversity. 


Growing up in one of London’s more socially deprived areas, Simon thrived in maths, physics, and engineering but was thwarted by his dyslexia in pursuing conventional employment. Through successful side hustles developed during his university years, Simon bought into a plastics moulding and tool-making business, becoming MD of his own company at the age of 25. 


Simon's vision for CT Automotive was clear from the start. He saw the huge potential in manufacturing in China to Western standards. This foresight led him to spend 16 years living in China, transforming CT from its tool-making roots into a global component supply business that serves most of the world’s largest automotive OEMs. 


Simon candidly discusses the challenges he faced in his chosen career path and how he overcame them. He shares why he chose to IPO the business on AIM in 2021 and reflects on the following couple of years as the most challenging period he has ever experienced.


Looking forward, Simon talks about the need to stay ahead via the adoption of AI and robotics, a trend that is happening so quickly that the shape of the automotive industry he supplies will be unknowable over the next few years. However, as he says, CT went to China for its low costs but is staying because of its world-class leadership in modern manufacturing technology.    


This is a fascinating story of resilience, innovation and raw entrepreneurialism. 


Please enjoy our conversation with the maverick, Simon Philips.  


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