From working as an independent consultant to setting up Hatmill
I’m Simon Dixon and I set up Hatmill in 2009 after leaving PwC. Initially Hatmill was just a vehicle for me to do independent consulting. After working as an independent consultant for a couple of years the volume of new project opportunities started to increase. This led to me taking on more projects and growing the team. Since then we have experienced consistent year on year growth in client numbers, turnover and team numbers. Hatmill has now become known for supporting businesses to improve their supply chain and logistics functions.
My industry background was gained with Asda, where I joined their logistics graduate scheme in 1996. Asda’s graduate scheme was fantastic in that it provided some unbelievable opportunities to gain experience of big roles at an early stage of my career. A couple of examples of this were: joining the distribution infrastructure team and managing the build of a new chilled distribution centre with a £20M budget at the age of 23, and becoming the Operations Manager of Bristol CDC, just 18 months later. The latter was a significant role managing over 400 people at a site recently taken in-house, handling around 900,000 cases per week.
My consulting experience started with Boxwood in 2001. It was here that I did my ‘consulting apprenticeship’, learning how to analyse processes, identify inefficiencies, manage and influence clients and deliver some big improvements. At Boxwood I worked on, amongst other things; the West Coast Mainline Route Modernisation and London Underground track renewals. The challenges with both these clients was helping to improve the supply chains to the workforce on site, leading to significant efficiency gains, and in some cases, doubling productivity.
After Boxwood I joined PwC where I led the logistics consulting offer as part of their Supply Chain practice. During my time with PwC I undertook large change programmes with multi-national companies, led supply chain reviews of blue chip organisations, completed operational due diligence reviews for Banks and investors and spoke at a number of high profile events on the impact of logistics on business performance.
I was on a small plane flying back to Leeds from Aberdeen when I decided to start Hatmill (Hatmill is a combination of my eldest two daughters names; Hattie and Millie – We’ve since had a third daughter which is now proving a little awkward). It was the second time that year that the plane had had to abort its landing and ‘go around’. As I watched the less regular flyers reaching for the emergency instructions cards I looked out of the window and wondered why I was on this plane in the first place. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the work. I did enjoy it. It was just that I wasn’t able to choose who I worked with, what sort of work I did and what price I charged clients. The combination of these 3 constraints was frustrating me and I started to think about how I could do things differently. By the time we landed I’d decided to make the leap. My head was full of how it would give me more time at home with my young family, more choice of which clients I worked with – only choosing the work that would be rewarding and where I felt I could really improve businesses.
Now Hatmill has become far more significant than I could have imagined at that time. We have a team of over 20 consultants working with some fantastic businesses and brands. We’ve developed some deep specialisms, like network strategy reviews, distribution centre development, demand forecasting and stock management, warehouse design and logistics outsourcing support. I’m proud to be part of the Hatmill team and the results we deliver for our clients. But of most importance is that virtually all our work is obtained through the recommendation of our previous clients, which says far more about us than I can here.