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Written by Michaela Millar

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do in the company?

Hello, I am Kevin and I started working with Scott & Fyfe in 2008. In that time I have worked in various roles starting as a machine operator manufacturing a woven, reflective fabric to increase crop yield on our circular weaving looms before moving to work in our composite department. Here I manufactured our glass reinforcement materials for the composite industry for example Polymat which is a glass core mat type material for use in closed moulding applications.


Whilst working in the composite department I was given the opportunity to further my responsibilities as Production Team Leader. In this role I manage a team of roughly 16 people. Day to day activities for me include the control of our incoming raw materials and outgoing stock, the planning of production, managing the team and of course operating machines where required and carrying out light engineering work when possible.


One of the biggest challenges I have working in this role is to ensure that we keep ahead of the game as we have seen a high growth in our sales over the past year in particular. Whilst this is a challenge, it is a good one to have and as I work extremely closely with our sales team, we are always able to fulfil our customers’ requirements. One of the things that I enjoy most about the role is the team that I work with as they are hardworking and flexible which makes my life much easier and of course they are comical which makes the day go by faster.


What changes have you seen / been involved in whilst working at the company?

Around 6 years ago I was given the opportunity to join the NOW team (New Opportunities Within). This was right at the beginning of the company shift towards a design led strategy and meant that I went away with a team of employees from all levels within the business to learn different (design) methods of thinking and working.


For me the NOW team was a really enlightening and positive experience. One of my key takeaways from this was the Fail Fast approach and I think this is really valuable in our business today. With this technique we are encouraged to generate a lot of ideas and to work through these quickly, not worrying about the consequences if they are not a success but instead ensuring that if they are no good that we close them quickly and move onto the next, failing fast.


What is a highlight from your time at Scott and Fyfe?

Each year all employees are invited to take part in the Johnny Allan Golf Tournament. This is a game of golf played at the course next door to our site, Scotscraig. What is great about this day is that all of our employees are completely equal on the green whether it is the CEO or a new start and we all have a great laugh and (quite) a few drinks together afterwards.





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Written by Michaela Millar

Over the next few months, we want to introduce you to the owners at Scott & Fyfe – the employees!

I am Alison Stewart and I have been working at Scott & Fyfe for 25 years now. My title is Personnel Assistant but as I’m based at reception this involves various different roles which I cover on a day to day basis.  I am there to greet and organise visitors, any contractors who come on to the site and any other visitors who may come in on a day to day basis. A key part of my role is to deal with general personnel issues, this can vary from employee’s queries, keeping up to date with employee’s absence, general administration work including keeping employees personal records up to date. But I have to say being at the reception desk, I sometimes feel like the S&F Agony Aunt!


I spent my first 10 years working within the Finance Department as a Purchase Ledger Assistant and was then transferred to work within the Personnel Department.   I really enjoyed the challenges this gave me so when I was offered the opportunity by the company to take a course at Dundee College to gain a Certificate in Personnel Practice I jumped at the chance.  It took 3 years to gain this certification but I felt it was worthwhile and gave me an insight into personnel issues and policies.


What is your role on the Employee Forum?

I have been a member of the Forum since its inception and feel the main role of the team is to encourage communication within the company.  It is important that everyone has a voice and the opportunity to express their opinions and hopefully this can be done through the Forum.


What has been your most memorable moment during Scott and Fyfe?

Every few years we used to hold a celebration for employees who gained their 25 years long service award within Scott & Fyfe, The last event which I helped to organise and had the privilege of attending was held at the Discovery Point in Dundee. This turned out to be one of the best nights we had ever organised and I have very fond memories of that evening and as far as I am led to believe everyone and their partners had a ball!


What might your colleagues not know about you?

When I was 21 I won a car through a competition in the Sunday Post. It was a Vauxhall Astra which was “Car of the Year” back then, unfortunately at that time I couldn’t drive but was taking lessons, never the less it was as really exciting to have won and I will never forget that phone call!





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Written by Michaela Millar

Recently, I had the absolute privilege of presenting at Creative Dundee’s Pecha Kucha Night Vol 14. An event which I have attended myself many times before and one that I have always left feeling inspired and awe struck as a result of the amazing things that businesses, charities and individuals are doing in and around Dundee.


Pecha Kucha or ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, is a simple and fast paced format for presenting. Each presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds (no text) on any topic which inspires them! The concept was developed by Klein Dytham Architecture, in Tokyo 2003 and has gone global with over 800 cities now hosting PKNs. On paper it sounds simple but I have a lot to say and am definitely a chatter box so trying to fit everything into such a short amount of time was a real challenge.




Implementing a design-led strategy

My topic was of course Scott & Fyfe but more specifically on the transformation the company has undertaken over the past 5 to 6 years developing and implementing a design-led strategy. The entire evening was filmed and streamed live online by Stream Scotland and of course, watched by the sell-out audience of roughly 400 creatives. Not half piling on the pressure. You can watch the video of the night here, (I am on at 1 hour 54 minutes).


Togs for Tots to Teens

There were so many fantastic speakers on the night that I thoroughly enjoyed every second and was (almost) able to relax and forget the nerves. One or two standouts included Jordan Butler who as Managing Director of the Social Enterprise “Togs for Tots to Teens” uses creative thinking and an ethos of “Creating Kindness” as the building blocks to the fantastic work she does distributing clothing and equipment to struggling families. This can be in the form of clothes, toys or even bed linen and Jordan explains just how much of a difference something as seemingly small as bed linen can make by sharing the feedback she received from one mum. This feedback was that the family with 3 young boys had their first good night’s sleep because their 3 year old slept in bed for a full night because he loved his new dinosaur covers.




Thought Ninja

Another fantastic speaker was Dawn Walton, a cognitive hypnotherapist who showed us how to banish our negative thoughts – like a thought ninja! And alongside this, explored exactly how and when we lose our ability to be creative. Her accompanying images were simple and hilarious and I think it is extremely relevant to the way we work at Scott & Fyfe. This is because all of the work that we carried out with the Glasgow School of Art (which I will speak about soon) was to coax the creative side back out of our employees. We soon realised that they could all still think creatively and solve problems it was simply that this had gotten a little lost in day to day adult life!




Then it was my turn…

After watching the diverse range of speakers it was then my turn to change topic completely and give my take on design from a business point of view. Explaining exactly how our traditional 150 year old manufacturing company transformed itself into a forward thinking, “google-esque” type company with a design-led strategy.  150 years fit into 6:40 minutes.




Adapt to Survive

Design led and creative are not exactly the first words that spring to mind when discussing a traditional manufacturing company, let alone one which has been established for 150 years. So for bragging rights, it would be nice to be able to say that the company’s decision to take on this new approach was due to an inspired notion. However, the transformation to a design-led strategy was not carried out from a comfortable position but rather through the knowledge that Scott & Fyfe needed to adapt, and adapt quickly, in order to survive.


The struggle to survive came ironically as a result of the company’s success. Scott & Fyfe was extremely successful for a long time with the company’s main product ranges acting as great cash cows. Due to this, the company rested on its laurels and placed no emphasis on the need to produce new products that would be commercially successful and whilst there were many talented employees, a lack of communication and insight was blinding. Unfortunately this short sightedness meant that we did not notice our main markets going into decline and when the recession hit we began to lose money fast.


Creating Cultures of Innovation

As we began to struggle, we were introduced to a new team at the Glasgow School of Art (GSoA) who were looking to teach design principles to non-designers in a project called Creating Cultures of Innovation. This was the birth of our NOW team (New Opportunities Within). We got to work with these guys, sending a group of employees from all areas of the company to learn different problem solving tools and methods of working collaboratively.



Learning to use Design Tools and to work in Cross Functional Teams

All of the design tools learned with the GSoA fit into the Double Diamond model above. This is a framework we use for our new product developments. It encourages us to look outwards, to speak to the market whether this is our customers, through networking at exhibitions or by linking in with academics etc. It then forces us to make sure that we really do listen to them before bringing the insights back to spot the opportunities as a team. From there on, we develop and push these ideas and begin to develop prototypes before ultimately finalising a product which then stands a real chance at being a successfully commercial innovation.


Teamwork is one of the key takeaways from our design approach. Employees from all over the company have fantastic ideas and vital insights that were missed previously when only one or two employees had any input. The design tools are used to aid this, dotocracy and 6 hats for example both empower employees and give them an equal say to their colleagues irrespective of their time served or status in the company. For more on these tools have a look at our previous design tools blog.


The new market-focussed POD structure of the company enforces the design-led strategy even further by ensuring we put the market and customers at the very top of our priorities and, of course, by running the POD’s with cross functional teams.




This is a Work in Progress

Ultimately, this sums up the transformation in a brief way, the reality is a very lengthy process and I think that most employees would admit this is 100% a work in progress. We are not there yet and are constantly seeking advice, making mistakes, learning, failing and adapting. Implementing the design-led strategy has not been a magic wand but it has, in my opinion, kept the company afloat in recent years and hopefully the rewards will really start to show.


Doing the PKN simply reminded me just how inspiring an environment it is to work in!



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Written by Michaela Millar

As an employee owned company, our employees are at the heart of everything that we do. Therefore, each Wednesday over a 12 week period we are sharing interviews with our employee owners. Now in the 9th of our Meet the Owner Profiles, meet our employee owner Jim Watt.


Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Jim and I currently work in our Weaving department, running the flat weaving looms and carrying out maintenance of the looms when required.

I have been working here for over 26 years in 5 different roles. I joined the company at 22 as a van driver before beginning to work in different areas of the Weaving department including oiling, re rolling and now, weaving product. For a period of time I also work in the Quality Laboratory as a Quality Technician, testing our products to ensure they were consistently meeting customer standards.  I can honestly say I have enjoyed all aspects of the roles.


What are the main changes you have seen during your 26 years at Scott and Fyfe?

Until roughly 10 years ago there were very few new employees joining the company but in the past 10 years I have seen a lot of new and fresh faces joining us. Overall, I think there is a much more positive attitude across the company too.


Is there anything interesting about yourself others may not know?

I am really into baking and won the Scott & Fyfe charity “bake off” in 2014 which was a bit of fun. Occasionally I bring in sample baking for my colleagues who constantly chase me for more.


I have also been employee of the month in the past year for going the extra mile for the company, working extra hours where possible and coming in at weekends to help out where it was needed. I am always more than happy to do this without any type of reward because after all we are employee owned so every little helps.


Is there any stand out or memorable moments for you?

There are a few! Being acknowledged for my 25 years of service was definitely memorable. The CEO, John Lupton was providing a presentation in our Innovation Space and I was given a token of appreciation (half of which I gave to charity) and acknowledgement in front of all my colleagues. It was a surprise but a nice one.



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About Us

With innovation, diversity and partnership at the heart of our company’s ethos, Scott & Fyfe have been designing and producing a vast range of technical textiles for numerous market areas worldwide for almost 150 years. Our ability to design and manufacture products for both current and future market needs have allowed us to build a global reputation for excellence in both quality and service.

Scott & Fyfe
Tayport Works, Links Road, Tayport, Fife, Scotland

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