Hunts MD wins scholarship to help exploit new LED product

A HUNTINGDON electronics company managing director is going back to school next week in the hope of making his eight-year-old company even more successful.

Gary Weston, MD of a Hinchingbrooke Park business Top Hex Ltd has been awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Cass Business School in London after winning the Vision to Reality competition run by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Towergate Insurance.

“I’ve been criticized for not being entrepreneurial enough, even though we’ve grown in a boring sort of way to turning over half a million pounds a year,” he told The Hunts Post. “So, when the opportunity came up to apply for the scholarship, I thought it was fantastic. I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford it.”

Gary, 38, and business partner Simon Pollington, 49, – who does the pointy-head invention work from his lab in Steeple Bumpstead – formed Top Hex in 2002, designing electronic equipment for clients in a wide range of industries. The company has grown progressively and now employees 12 people.

But Gary’s winning entry was based on Top Hex’s latest innovation: a low-energy stage floodlight that uses LEDs rather than a conventional light bulb. The judges liked his business plan for turning this product into a commercial success and were keen to give him the opportunity to further develop his entrepreneurial skills at the Cass Business School. “One of the big pitfalls of managing a business is getting set in your ways, so I’m hoping to hear different views of looking at finance and at client and supplier relationships that may be relevant to this business. In the past, we’ve done an extremely poor job of attracting financial backing.”

The new product has a potential UK market in 24,000 schools and 2,500 amateur dramatic groups.

“My ambition is to sell 500 floodlights in the first year and maybe 2,000 in the second.

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“Despite what you hear about the death of manufacturing industry, Huntingdon’s doing rather well. What we can’t make or assemble ourselves, because we do only small volumes, we sub-contract to other local companies. There’s room to expand capacity.”