Interview with MD Nick Oakland

Nick Oakland was recently appointed in February 2019 as Managing Director of Dürr Universal Europe Ltd following the retirement of the previous MD (Bruce Cresswell)

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself – interests, specialisms, etc?

A. On a personal level I am married with two children so have my hands pretty full outside of work operating as the family chauffeur for my kids’ sporting/social calendar. When I do find some spare time, I enjoy the gym, playing/watching football and playing golf (very infrequently). From a work perspective, I have been in senior leadership roles for the last 10 years with a wealth of global business experience across a range of functions, including manufacturing, operations, procurement, project management, and sales. I have successfully managed and delivered a broad range of complex, high value projects worth well over +£250m so am well versed in dealing with balancing changing client demands with achieving commercial targets.

My career specialisms include: leadership, team building, end-to-end program management, value engineering, commercial management, change management, lean manufacturing principles, problem solving, sourcing, and procurement.

Q. How long have you been associated with Dürr Universal?

A. I officially joined the business in February 2019 after undergoing a rigorous selection process that started back in November 2018. I am without question the newest member of the UK office, as many of the team have been with the business over 5 years with our Operations Manager actually coming up to his 25th year with Dürr Universal. All of our guys are experienced in their roles with many years of valuable industry knowledge.

Q. What did you do before you joined the company?

A. I have held senior leadership roles for over 10 years in both an SME and corporate environment. My last role was as MD of a family-owned sheet metal fabrication business based in Leicestershire. This was a vertically integrated factory with laser cutting, punching, folding, fabrication, paint and assembly on site. We produced parts and assemblies for a wide variety of industry sectors including retail, HVAC, automotive, enclosures, electronics and medical.

Prior to this I spent nearly 20 years working in the retail industry for a business that designed and manufactured point of sale display units for a number of well-known global brands including L’Oréal, Maybelline, Coty, Vodafone and Samsung. I started my career as a Buyer, working as Purchasing Manager, Supply Chain Manager, Project Director, Head of Procurement, Manufacturing Director and Head of Operations.

My career has given me a broad range of business experience and exposure to different market sectors. All of the markets experience similar challenges in terms of customer requirements, competition and price pressure.

Q. What does your day-to-day job involve?

A. Is there a regular day-to-day routine in a leadership role? I love the fact that there isn’t a ‘regular day’ and with such a small team at our European office, it offers the opportunity to be involved at all stages of our process from customer brief through to physical project execution. For me it’s a new industry so I have lots to learn about our client base, their requirements and how we can best service their needs. Collectively our office in Hinckley has well over 60 years of sector experience which has been invaluable in helping me get up to speed quickly.

Our day can be really varied from taking customer briefs, participating in concept design reviews, visiting sites post-installation to measure noise levels, through to Skype calls with our global sub-contractor network to discuss project progress. It’s this level of variety that makes the role exciting. I’ve also spent time visiting our key customers to get a better understanding of the key contact points, their businesses, their plans for the future and how Dürr Universal can support.

With customers based globally it has been a whirlwind couple of months but exciting to learn more about the industry, our customers and the role our products play in it.

Q. What services and products does the company offer for the genset industry?

A. Exhaust silencing and emissions control, plus intake silencing and filtration.

From our Hinckley office, we offer a range of global supply options – UK, Eastern Europe, India, Mexico, US and Australia – all project managed by the UK team.

Our products are suitable for a wide range of sectors such as:

  • Energy and environmental industries including oil and gas, power generation, emissions control and wastewater treatment.
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical industries including chemical processing, manufacturing, petrochemical and refineries
  • Marine industries
  • Co-generation and combined heat and power (CHP)
  • Locomotive industries

Our company provides the following services:

  • 3D design
  • Project management
  • Structural analysis
  • Thermal analysis
  • Wind and seismic load calculations
  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Acoustic and back pressure calculations
  • Site noise measurements
  • Finite element analysis (FEA)

Our comprehensive single-source solution:

  • Meets environmental, regulatory and operational requirements
  • Helps operators reduce costs
  • Improves efficiency of equipment
  • Achieves safety and compliance targets

I have to say that our engineering expertise and industry knowledge coupled with our ability to project manage supply from a variety of global options really does mean that Dürr Universal have a unique position in the market.

Q. What is Universal specifically doing to help their customers address emissions and keep within agreed standards and regulations?

A. Universal offers a full range of emission reduction technologies. Oxidation catalyst systems for reduction of hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO), diesel particulate (PM), filter systems, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems for treating NOx compounds.

These technologies can be integrated with the acoustic systems to maximize performance while saving space.

Q. Any future plans regarding the company development?

A. Universal is continually improving its product offerings. Now that we are part of the Dürr Clean Technology Systems (CTS) division, we are leveraging technologies that will allow us to provide emissions solutions up to the largest engines produced today.

These technologies will provide HC, PM and NOx reduction on engines 1MW to +20MW. In addition, Universal will be able to provide system service for installations on global basis through the Dürr network of offices.

From our perspective it’s an exciting time in the industry as our improved products will help support our clients through demanding regulatory and environmental requirements.

Q. How does Universal sit within the larger company – DÜRR Group?

A. Universal is part of the Dürr Clean Technology Systems division. With the addition of Universal’s acoustic technology and capability, Dürr CTS can now provide a full portfolio of environmental solutions to industry.

Dürr CTS is part of the Dürr Group with over 16,000 employees based at 108 locations in 32 countries and 3.9bn Euro sales on a global basis. As recently reported in the AMPS magazine, the purchase of Dürr Universal was completed in September 2018.

Q. Anything else?

A. Our marketing strategy includes fine-tuning our website, a new electronic version company brochure, new product data sheets and a set of case studies to showcase the projects we have installed and our capabilities. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s an exciting period for our business with the new investment from Dürr group and the enhanced capabilities membership of the Dürr group brings to our industry.