Every day during the Christmas holidays we are profiling the winners of the recent Director of the Year Awards. Peter Digby, chairman, Xtrac, won the International Company award
Over 30 years, Peter Digby has grown motorsport transmissions business Xtrac from a four-person team to a global company with 295 employees and a £45m turnover. Investment in people (Xtrac is 49 per cent employee-owned) and a strong focus on exports has seen the business flourish.
What’s the secret of your success?
Do what you believe in and commit. Be self-disciplined, life is not about excuses. And be lucky. Try to be in the right place at the right time – there aren’t many unlucky successful entrepreneurs.
What’s your leadership style? Firm but fair, lead by example, praise where it’s due, operate as a team. Trusting in my top people to make the right decisions even when their management style may differ.
What has been your most frightening time in business? The banking crisis was challenging. As customers and suppliers tightened belts we needed to offset a 15 per cent drop in turnover and made tough choices to reduce costs by £1.5m a year. We reduced directors’ salaries by 10 per cent, effected a company-wide pay freeze and overtime reductions and introduced a robust cost-efficiency programme.
How do you think business will change in the year ahead? Exports have been strong despite the uncertainty around Brexit. New trade agreements and negotiations may well uncover new opportunities or challenges for a British-based business exporting nearly 80 per cent of its manufacturing output.
What should government do for business in 2017? Monitor business performance to ensure the economy does not fall into recession. Events since Brexit have not been as we might have expected – exporters have performed well due to the pound’s drop in value. This could be the honeymoon period – the reality might well be different.
is a member of IoD Berkshire