Edward Pittman bids farewell to Martin Automatic
On the eve of his retirement, Ed Pittman spoke with long-time friend and colleague Nick Coombes about the industry and the changes he has seen.
NC: If you look back over your years with Martin Automatic, what has been the most noticeable change?
EP: Well, I’ve seen the company grow to become a world leader in non-stop splicing, automatic rewinding, and web transportation for narrow web labels and wide web applications. Going back, we were big in the newspaper industry – nowadays it’s more liquid packaging and non-wovens as well as a cross section of industrial and medical applications, and e-commerce.
NC: You have been with Martin for 21 years – what’s the attraction?
EP: I like the work environment here because it encourages cooperation and job ownership. John Martin, who founded the company, used to say he hired the smartest people he could, then got out of their way and let them work. The Martin team spirit allows us to share technical expertise and get the job done.
NC: It’s sometimes said that American companies ‘don’t get’ Europe. Do you agree?
EP: No, I don’t – at least not in Martin’s case! We’ve been heavily invested in Europe for more than 30 years. We ship spare parts daily from Germany to customers all over the continent, and our local service technicians were a massive help to customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. I’d say Martin definitely ‘gets Europe!’
NC: As Martin’s Sales Manager for Southern Europe and parts of Africa, how have you seen that market change over the past 20 years?
EP: I’d say the industry has become far more professional. But the major trend has been the increasing consolidation that’s taken place, with small companies selling out to larger groups. Europe accounts for around 20% of our global business, so we watch these trends very carefully.
NC: What have been the highlights and disappointments?
EP: It’s always satisfying to build a long-lasting relationship with a customer and many that I started working on 20 years ago are still buying new equipment from us today. What I find disappointing is that so many companies still don’t embrace automation to improve their efficiency and profitability. Our biggest customers have over 300 of our machines, and I have yet to meet anyone who regrets installing one of our splicers or rewinders. What do they see that the others don’t?
NC: What will retirement mean for Ed Pittman?
EP: I will dedicate a lot more time to help lead the Evangelical Church I serve in Las Rozas de Madrid and will finally have time to work on getting back into shape physically – you never know, my golf handicap might actually come down too!
NC: And how would you like to be remembered?
EP: As an honest guy who always did his best to serve Martin Automatic, its customers, and prospects fairly. I’ve enjoyed immensely the opportunities this has given me, and the company of the people I have met and worked with along the way.
NC: What happens next for Martin in Southern Europe?
EP: My replacement has been representing Martin Automatic in France for some years so there will be a smooth handover and continuity – in fact the European Sales Team will consist of three seasoned professionals in Germany, the UK and France – so customers can be assured they will be looked after well.