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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

12 Dec 07. Peter Hobson, Managing Director and founder of Hobson Industries was presented with the award as BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year 2007 at the annual BATTLESPACE lunch, held this year at the Guards Museum.

Julian Nettlefold, Editor of BATTLESPACE said, “The first time I met Peter Hobson to talk to in depth was 2005; I knew then that here was a very capable man whose business acumen and expertise was shrouded in his failure to portray this expertise and knowledge to the outside world, a trait I have found in most of the engineers I have interviewed over the years!”

“His drive, vision and foresight reminded me of my Nettlefold forebears who, from humble beginnings similar to Peter’s used similar drive and foresight to build a huge engineering enterprise, GKN. My great-great grandfather John Sutton Nettlefold (1792-1866) began his manufacturing career at Sunbury-on-Thames, where he used the power generated by a waterwheel to make woodscrews. By 1823 he had opened a small ironmonger’s shop at No. 8 Red Lion Street, Holborn, London and it was three years later that he decided to purchase the water-powered mill, for in the meantime Nettlefold had acquired a British patent (taken out in 1817 by John Gerard Corbert, a watchmaker of Winsley Street Marylebone) to make screws with a buttress thread, which made them easier to drive in and harder to take out, as all screws previously were blunt-ended). The rest as they say is history.”

“It was similar foresight which persuaded Peter Hobson to see the coming age of Green Issues and recycling as early as 1992 as this extract from Land Rover News suggests.

‘…..However, Land Rover uses an operation which actually recycles and makes available for re-use, the components of vehicles which would otherwise be scrapped.’

“Thus, in the spirit of my great-great grandfather in this year of Green initiatives, it gives me great pleasure to present Peter Hobson with two books ‘The History of GKN’ donated by GKN and signed by GKN CEO Sir Kevin Smith.”

“Peter Hobson is the first non-CEO to win this award, previous winners include Mark Newman CEO of DRS Technologies Inc. in 2004, Ian Stopps, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin U.K. in 2005 and Malcolm Peto, CEO of Astrium, the 2006 winner.”

Malcolm Peto said, “It is with great pleasure that I pass on the Baton of the Battlespace Business Man of the Year to Peter Hobson. It is clear to me that it is richly deserved. Although on a different scale to Skynet 5 / Paradgim (the largest most complex Defence PFI to date), Peter has built a sound business and is riding the “wave” of green issues that will effect us all and, proving what we all know that Land Rovers never die.”

Peter Hobson said, on receipt of his award from Malcolm Peto, “I am delighted to have received this award as it recognises the many engineer entrepreneurs in this country who play a key role in the development of new technologies and services such as Green recycling and Through Life Support. I am in debt to my customers, the Nigel Gilhead and Nick Fox from the MoD’s SUV IPT in particular and the ABRO team who have supported my innovative ideas in recycling the MoD’s Land Rover fleet.”

“I could not have achieved this without my workforce so some of the accolade of my award goes to them. Any part supplier lives on the reputation of his parts, however long the Warranty is, one failure means a failure for the company. I have built a Quality Control system second to none at Hobsons and to do that you have to respect your workforce and train them to develop only the best and to dispose of any part which does not come up to standard. We give free meals, flowers on birthdays and weddings and time off when needed. We keep the facility warm, comfortable and safe. Lastly, I don’t punish failure, if you don’t learn by your mistakes, you fail. If yo

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