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IES Presidential Address – Making machines matters! learning what you don’t know!

20 September 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Britain has to make and export stuff. Successful manufacturing of machines requires brilliant design and a mastery of the widest skills, from fitting to finance to foreign languages.

Dick will first examine the lessons from the silent death of the world’s biggest mobile crane maker. The UK based company failed despite excellent engineering and a range of great products. After the salutary experience with the crane builder and prior to that in shipbuilding, farm machinery and electronics companies, he founded Clansman Dynamics with two other engineers in 1994. He will describe events which produced difficult technical and commercial surprises.

All employees became owners in 2009, in order to try and bottle the extraordinary spirit of a start-up. 60 employees now proudly design, build and export machines from East Kilbride to 50 countries. Dick is determined to show that reversing the decline in manufacturing is not only essential but possible.


Speaker – Dick Philbrick

Dick studied Naval Architecture and worked in a shipyard  before studying for a second degree in Industrial Relations. He started Clansman Dynamics in 1994 with 3 other engineers.

Clansman designs and makes a range of heavy duty robots and manipulators and sells 95% for export to all 5 continents and  50 countries; now 60 employees and £12m sales.

In 2009 90% of employees bought shares in the company and the change to Employee Ownership was made. The new structure provides a solution for both the long term ownership of the company and for engineering. Engineering needs constant development, constant risk taking and prodigious efforts when developments go wrong; employee ownership provides patient shareholders who understand the business.

Clansman was successful before the change and that is what allowed it to happen, but the enthusiasm and commitment is now even greater. A 100% increase in sales and  profits support the claim.

As Managing Director of Clansman, he was deeply involved in overall management, in the design and manufacture of products and in sales. In the latter role he travelled the world and found that his foreign languages skills – German, French and some Italian – were invaluable.

Dick recently retired from Clansman Dynamics, although he remains as Chairman of the Trust that will always own a majority of the shares in the employee-owned company. He campaigns directly for greater attention to be paid to the importance of foreign languages and to spread the word for the benefits of employee ownership. He has been chair of a school board, a trustee for a large architectural practice and a member of the SCDI International Business Committee.


This will be a hybrid event

In person – room TL423, Learning and Teaching Building Strathclyde University, North Portland St, Glasgow, G1 1XN – Eventbrite register for in-person event 

Online – Eventbrite register for online event 


0141 248 3721

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