His job involves drumming up business for one of Europe’s biggest names in engineering.
But away from work, drumming of a musical kind is a real passion for Fixby-born Paul Holland.
“I have been a drummer for the last 40 years,” he says. “I have been in various rock bands in Huddersfield, Manchester and South Yorkshire. It’s not a hobby – it’s a passion.
“I have even been lucky enough to play at the Cavern Club. I don’t kid myself that I’m a rock star, but being a drummer is great therapy because you can hit things as hard as you like!
“I started playing when I was 11. I started as a child by hitting Tupperware boxes with a pair of knitting needles.
“Then one day I got a bread knife and cut off the rails on the wooden clothes horse to make myself two drumsticks. I got a drumming of a different kind for that.
“I played in bands in the working men’s clubs and it’s true what they say – that if you survive performing on stage in the working men’s clubs, you can survive anything!
“But I love percussion. There’s nothing better than making music. People talk about teamwork in business. Well, every member of a band has to do their own thing, but they have to do it as a team.”
At work, Paul leads a team of 25 as managing director of Bradley-based Klüber Lubrication GB.
The German-owned company moved from Northowram, Halifax, to the Pennine Business Park earlier this year as part of ambitious growth plans that will create more jobs and further develop the firm’s collaborative projects with leading companies in sectors such as gas and oil, food and drink production and automotive.
Since moving to Bradley, the company has already recruited another employee and is in contact with Huddersfield University about employing a marketing graduate.
Paul says Klüber had been affected by the recession, but says: “We had a half-decent ‘heads-up’ from our friends in the States about the way things were heading before the 2008 recession – as leading car manufacturers there had turned the tap off.
“We did not panic and go out looking for ‘silly’ business at all costs. We didn’t lose anyone and although some clients went to the wall, we didn’t lose any business we could have kept.
“We were affected to some degree, but our bounce back will be the envy of anybody. The projects we were working on pre-recession have all come back to the table.”
Commenting on current trends, Paul says: “The mood differs from industry to industry, but passenger car numbers are looking buoyant, which is a good sign.
“We seem to be doing better as a nation than a lot of our near-neighbours. Let’s hope it’s sustainable. We are only interested in sustainable business.”
Paul says he had always wanted to be an engineer – right from his days at Fartown Comprehensive School.
At Huddersfield New College, he studied science and applied mechanics and also took maths – a subject he hated.
He gained an HND in mechanical engineering on a sandwich course at Manchester Polytechnic and was apprenticed to Blackhall Engineering at Bailiff Bridge.
Keen to acquire engineering design skills, he went to Huddersfield University and gained an honours degree before working in the machine tools sector with firms in Keighley, Halifax and Peterborough.
“I became a project engineer, which is what I’d always wanted to do,” he says. “But after a while doing that – locked in a drawing office with people wearing jackets with leather elbow patches – I didn’t see myself doing that for life!”
Paul found himself writing technical manuals, which also got him a role as publicity manager for an American-owned valve firm in Leeds.
When Klüber advertised for a sales engineer, Paul jumped at the chance. He got the job and joined the company in 1991.
Based in Halifax, Paul covered the north of England from the Scottish Borders to the M62.
He progressed to regional sales Paul manager and national sales manager, working also on a global basis in areas such as training and leadership and management.
Eventually, he was offered the chance to become managing director of Klüber’s operations in Africa – covering 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“I boarded the plane out on my wedding anniversary,” he says. “We had agreed that my wife and children would stay in the UK and I would visit during the school holidays.
“It was a totally different environment to the mature, sophisticated markets of Western Europe. I was based in Johannesburg. I was determined not to be a Brit abroad. I didn’t want to be part of the ex-pat brigade.”
Paul says his Africa posting meant yellow fever jabs, mosquitos and being on guard against the dangers lurking for the unwary westerner. “There are definitely places you don’t want to go to,” he says.
But he adds: “I would recommend Africa to anyone who ever gets the opportunity to go. I came back after two years because my wife was ill, but I would have stayed another year – and I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Paul’s patch now covers the UK and Ireland, although the Bradley office also gets involved in international projects.
Paul travels to the company’s German headquarters as part of its international sales management group and is proud that a number of Klüber’s global experts are based in Huddersfield.
The aim is to make the Huddersfield site a centre of excellence – with facilities to train people from client firms in the application of Klüber products and support its own colleagues in Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, Switzerland and South Africa.
“Where we were in Halifax was completely inappropriate,” says Paul. “We were in a beautiful place in the Shibden valley. Now we are in a generic brick-built box, but it helps us deliver a better service to our customers!”
With a diverse customer base, innovating tailor-made solutions to meet their needs is vital.
Klüber supplies a range of oils and greases for use in applications ranging from Formula One racing cars to wind turbines. Customers include Nestle, Siemens Wind Power and Coca Cola.
“We could be working with a firm making bottled water one day or a cruise ship the next,” he says. “Their requirements are always different.”
Paul says the company has become a member of the Engineering Employers Federation because it recognises how it can contribute to helping manufacturing members make their products work.
Paul himself studied in his spare time to get an MA in sales and marketing management and also has Incorporated Engineer status. “I like to learn,” he says.
Something else Paul has learned is golf. “I found golf working in South Africa,” he says. “It’s a social thing, playing with your mates. While you’re playing golf, you can’t think of anything else. It’s a great thing to do if you don’t take it too seriously – fresh air and more exercise than I wold otherwise get!
Role: Managing director
Family: Married to Jayne with daughters Bethany, 18, and Megan, 15
Car: Mercedes CLA 220
Holidays: We have been to Florida, New York and Texas in the US, but everyone should go to Cape Town. It should be compulsory!
First job: Peeling potatoes at The Buglow fish and chip shop in Oakes
Best thing about the job? The variety. There’s no chance to getting bored
Worst thing about the job? Spam email – and being copied into email messages that don’t concern me
Business tip: If you are lucky enough to have a vision – make it happen. Even just talking about it can make it happen
Kluber Lubrication Great Britain Ltd
Work: Supplying speciality lubricants for a wide range of industries
Site: Bradley Business Park, Bradley Road, Hudersfield
Phone: 01422 205115
Web: www. klueber.com