By Julian Nettlefold
16 May 11. BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold travelled to Cambridge to meet Peter Callaghan, CEO of Marshall Land Systems, a subsidiary of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited. Marshall is now one of the largest privately owned Companies in the U.K. with the current Chairman and Chief Executive Sir Michael Marshall, Sir Arthur Marshall’s son, appointed in 1989, owning 55% of the shares with the residue owned by family members. Sir Arthur Marshall died in March 2007 at the age of 103, just prior to which he was working a three day week!
In 2006 Group sales increased over 10% to £633m following the award of the HIOS contract to Marshall Aerospace and a general increase in activity levels for the engineering companies. Gross profits increased by nearly 19% to £142m representing a return of 22.4% on sales, well up on the 20.8% achieved in 2005.
“What brought you to Marshall?” The Editor asked.
“I was head hunted from Smiths Detection (previously Graseby Dynamics) in Watford where I was repositioning the Company with the view to a possible move to the USA. Tim Otter, then with Smiths, now with Marshall Land Systems, was asked by Robert Marshall the then MSV CEO, to look for a new CEO to head up the flagging SV vehicle business. From a peak of being the MoD’s key vehicle body supplier, Marshall SV was languishing employing 128 people with a military turnover of £12 million. We have now built this to a turnover of £70 million with 608 people across all parts of the company.”
“Did you have a history of employment with the defence industry to weave your magic on Marshall?”
“No, it’s all about change and management techniques. Although my early career in Australia was with the Australian DoD dealing with the management of logistics and munitions, my main career was in the mining industry starting with Peko-Wallsend in Sydney where I had a number of management jobs sorting out troubled subsidiaries. My experience with vehicles came with the sale of Canford Engineering to Hosch in 2001 when I worked for Adstream a large Australian corporation.”
“What was the key enabler to bring Marshall Land Systems to where it is today?”
“I found a somewhat unconnected and expensive Company that was not listening to its customers. Thus my first job was to reposition the management to discover what the customer wanted rather than force them to accept a design or system they did not require. My next job was to streamline the workforce, bring in Project Managers and reduce costs. The next stage was to divide, what was then a disparate group of capabilities, into managed segments. We thus formed Marshall Land Systems with a Management Board running six key subsidiaries, Marshall Specialist Vehicles (MSV), with a current turnover of £25 million, specialising in Protected Workspace systems, Marshall Vehicle Engineering (MVE), with a current turnover of £15 million, specialising in vehicle engineering, and logistics systems, Marshall SDG in Petersfield, with a current turnover of £3 million, specialising in Capability Development and Unmanned Ground Vehicles, power management and systems development , Marshall Fleet Solutions, with a current turnover of £27 million, specialising in the management of refrigerated and other trailers for civilian customers such as Tesco, Stobart and Boots, Lorica the 50:50 JV with Plasan and Marshall Land Systems (Australia) recently established to offer our capability to RMMV and others for the Land 121 medium and heavy vehicle requirement and our own responses to a number of other projects.”
Development of Marshall Land Systems Ltd
In 2009, Marshalls achieved its Centenary and celebrated with an excellent party at which the Editor was honoured to be asked.
Marshall of Cambridge was founded by David Gregory Marshall on 1st October 1909 in a small lock-up premise in Brunswick Gardens, Cambridge, as a chauffeur drive company for Cambridge Univers