In the 13 years since taking charge in April 2007, Colin Robertson has led the transformation of ADL from delivering an annual turnover of £178m generated mostly in the UK market to a global revenue of £631m in 2019. We look back at some of the key highlights of his transformational leadership.
Just weeks after Colin’s appointment in 2007, ADL finalised the deal to buy Britain’s last remaining coach builder, Plaxton. Seizing the opportunity to make ADL more than just the sum of its constituent parts, a concerted effort followed to integrate the previously disparate and historically often competing locations into a single business working seamlessly together, focusing on company-wide objectives. Revenue per square foot doubled over the next years as the company employed a much more flexible approach to manufacturing, using outsourcing where appropriate to support a highly skilled core workforce able to ride out the bus and coach market’s usual demand volatility.
In the UK market, Colin Robertson recognised ADL’s over-reliance on a single major customer and set out to broaden the company’s appeal. Expertise in innovation and fuel-saving lightweight design was combined with investment in the development of what was to become the market’s widest range of clean bus technologies, beginning with the breakthrough of hybrid technology in 2008 and followed by efficiency enhancements as well as biogas, battery electric and hydrogen vehicles.
A relentless champion of aftermarket support as part of a wider customer focus, Colin insisted that operators must find ADL a reliable, responsive and trusted partner. This unwavering customer focus enabled ADL to not only become one of the preferred suppliers for all of the UK’s major bus operating groups, but also grow its customer base with municipal and independent operators who have appreciated the company’s can-do attitude and focus on passenger-centric vehicle specification, earning the company an undisputed reign as market leader.
International activities accounted for less than a quarter of turnover when Colin took up the role as Chief Executive, but by penetrating new markets including Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand and Singapore, this was more than doubled by the time ADL was acquired by NFI in May 2019.