Our Founder - Gordon Styles

From Our Founder

When I got on the plane in London on the 15th July 2005 to travel to China to set up Star Prototype, I knew that I was entering a new era in my life, and I knew I faced great challenges building a business in China. I knew that China had a reputation for bad quality, miscommunication, late deliveries, ever inflating prices after order placement, etc. I saw this as an opportunity to provide a new experience for those who wished to buy from China.

Sitting on that plane I promised myself that when I got to China I would run my business exactly the way I had ran my business in the UK. I would conform to European standards throughout; aim for extremely high efficiency even though I would have very low costs; I would assume that I had huge competition even if I didn’t. To achieve this I decided that I would hire foreign engineers to come and teach my Chinese employees how to make high quality parts efficiently. I also decided that I would hire very well educated young Chinese graduates and personally train them from the ground up. Most of my project managers now speak great English. Sometimes better than me.

We have invested very heavily in our inspection and QC activities to ensure that our parts are to the highest of standards. We have more than ten full-time inspectors, managed by a foreigner with around 30 years experience in metrology and inspection, and have spent more than USD 350,000 in the latest metrology equipment including 1.5m Nikon CMM; FARO Laser Scanning for 3D Shapes; OES and XRF guns for checking metallurgy and a huge variety of other pieces of equipment.

I will not lie to you and say that it has been easy to get to where we are now. It has been a huge challenge. Had I known what I faced I might have thought twice. But that is the wonder of not knowing the future. My commitment to my customers is that we aim to provide you with a unique service from China that conforms with the best that the world has to offer. Oh, and you get a really good price.

What Drives Me?

By Gordon Styles

gordon styles in 1965I was born in 1964 and vaguely remember the back end of the swinging sixties. My Mum and Dad threw some legendary parties back then. After a hard night of partying in our house, my Mum would set up a selection of the previous night’s snacks/bribes to keep my brother and I entertained.

Those quiet mornings locked in the living room with the TV would see us gorge ourselves on Supermarionations from the famous British due of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The only one that non-Brits might know is Thunderbirds. Not the terrible movie they made in 2004, but the original with puppets suspended on wires.   Team America used a very similar system.

I immersed myself in the high-tech and philanthropic nature of Thunderbirds. Technology and engineering skill coming to save the World – awesome! I am even tingling now thinking about it. You have got to check out a couple of episodes for fun on YouTube. They look ancient now, but they were absolutely cutting edge back then.

Gordon Styles - 1993 - SLA Machine

1993 – My first SLA machine (3D-Printer)

But more than Thunderbirds, I was completely blown away by STAR-TREK. I am not a Trekkie, let’s be clear about this, but I am utterly convinced that the human race is destined ‘To Go’ out there in the Universe and it will be scientists and engineers that will make this happen. I am even more enamored with the idea of a meritocratic future with little or no money required to live a fabulously worthy life in search of new and wonderful knowledge about the universe and humanity.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had everything they could ever need or want in material terms, and the only thing left to concern oneself with was the furtherment of mankind and discovery.

I want a STAR-TREK future for mankind. In my small way I try and bring a little of “The Next Generation” feel to my own corner of the World. I am responsible for the wellbeing of hundreds of people that work with me, and maybe hundreds more that are supported by their efforts. I realize in this current paradigm that people’s pay will vary, but I ask that everyone wears the same uniform; gets the same chair and desk; eats the same food; is treated with equal importance – and that includes me. My company is a meritocracy through and through. If anyone, a Chinese or foreigner, does not pull their weight, they will eventually have to leave the team. If anyone shows exceptional promise, they can rise up to take greater responsibility – and the emphasis is on the word responsibility.

Jean-Luc Picard cares not for wealth in any form, he only cares about the wellbeing of his people and the mission. I think that the vast majority of people are like this anyway. It is therefore anathema to me why there is such a disparity of income in the Anglo-Saxon world these days. I am sure one could find people equally as bright and capable that could run the top companies in the world for a tiny fraction of the sums these greedy individuals seem to need to get the energy to get out of bed. Hang on, better get off that box before I fall off.

Where were we, oh yes, meritocracy:

springer misc machine

2004 – At my company Springer Rapid in the UK working on a 2m 5-Axis CNC Machine. One month before I came to China…

I tell my three Cleaners that they are part of the marketing staff, which is true. If my customers see dirty windows, floors, and toilets, they will think poorly of the company. I have fired people for abusing my cleaners because they thought they were more important. Every member of staff is somehow a marketing person, an ambassador or a sales person for the company. Everyone should be striving to better themselves so as to improve the team as a whole. In that vein we are setting up a team that will develop what we call STAR-U to ensure that every member of the team gets a minimum of two hours of training each week.

In addition, I love to buy the latest high-tech gear – I guess that goes without saying.

So, until someone invents a Nuclear Fusion Plasma drive that can be used for deep-space travel, I will just do my bit here on planet earth to try and improve my little corner of the world. Hope you now have a little insight into the way I think and why STAR might be called STAR. ;-}

george styles in 1960s

In honour of my Father who infected me with a love of engineering and Gene Roddenberry for inspiring generations to think about our human condition and dream of a more worthy and meritocratic future.