Jobs saved as Spemco acquire Southern Circuit
by Philip Stoten
Nov 26, 2002
I sat in a bar in Munich just a couple of weeks ago talking to an upbeat Steve Driver about the UK industry and indeed about his business. He seemed to share the optimism currently felt by many in the UK. In fact he seemed to be positively upbeat, talking about new business and new investment plans. It was the last day of Electronica that we heard the news that Southern Circuits had failed and few believed that the business had much chance of continuing. Come the middle of the following week the grapevine was at work and news of Steve's interest in Southern had filtered through those well connected to the UK market. The announcement by Spemco came to me late yesterday and marks another new chapter in the Spemco story and indeed in the Steve Driver story.
In another conversation with some of the more mature industry luminaries, we sat discussing the new high flyers of the UK industry. Steve's name came up and was met with universal agreement. It was interesting to hear the people who were responsible for building the UK PCB industry in the seventies and eighties talk about the next generation of players. I think Steve would have enjoyed the conversation had he had the opportunity to listen.
I first met Steve around eight years ago. He had a small PCB shop in the lower ground floor of a building in Kent. Clearly then he was very determined, having acquired a business which, I think Steve would agree, was not state-of-the-art.
Since that time, Spemco have developed new business opportunities, particularly with niche market PCB products, acquired and number of other PCB facilities including Argos Electronics in Portsmouth, and Complasco. Steve seems to have a knack of making these businesses work where others have not. As someone who knows Steve, I can not help but be impressed by his realistic approach to business and his can-do attitude.
If success breeds success, then successful people have to recruit successful people. Steve has done just that and has a great team around him. His group Sales director, Lee Lloyd, is just one example of that team - well connected and one of the most natural sales people I have ever worked with.
As an Englishman who has been involved in the PCB industry for more than twenty years, I wish Steve and his team every success…