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Ten Questions with Neil Ryan

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We welcomed our CEO - Neil Ryan - into the LIGNIA Family at the start of 2020.

Over the last few months, he's been getting to know the company inside out, as well as all the team. For our latest blog post, we decided to turn the tables and put the questions to him instead. So we grabbed a coffee and sat down with Neil to ask him about LIGNIA, music and more.

1. In business terms, what’s your background?

I spent twenty-five years with The Dow Chemical Company in a variety of commercial roles from sales through marketing and into general management. During that time, I worked in a number of different Dow businesses and was also fortunate enough to work in several regions including Europe, the US and Asia. After leaving Dow, I joined Low & Bonar which is a mid-sized British performance products business.

2. We’ve heard that you're a chemist by training. Will that be a good fit for LIGNIA’s science?

Well, it has been a very long time since I wore a lab coat and worked in a lab, but yes, I did study chemistry at university and I still love the subject. I think it would be a big mistake to put me back in the lab these days, but the scientific background and interest does draw me to technically driven businesses. It also helps me understand the capabilities of our products and our manufacturing process a little better. I see LIGNIA as a great combination of science (chemistry!) and nature.

3. What do you think is more important from a business perspective, product performance or sustainable credentials?

A very interesting question. Traditionally, performance was the key, and any environmental or sustainability credentials were a ‘nice to have’ but not necessarily core to a value proposition or buying decision. That has clearly changed now, and any business interested in a long-term future needs both performance and sustainability credentials. I don’t think it is possible to have one without the other. Luckily, at LIGNIA, we have both an excellent product and make a very strong contribution to a sustainable future.

4. What were your impressions of LIGNIA when you first came here?

Before I visited LIGNIA, it was that combination of product and environmental angle that set the company apart. During my first visit, I was struck by the engagement and motivation of the team. People genuinely care about the work they are doing here and that is a great foundation for business success.

5. You’ve been with us since January – have you seen LIGNIA in action here or in other countries yet?

Yes, I had the opportunity to travel to the US to visit some of our customers with Lisa Ayala, our North America Sales Manager and Steve Rogers, our Commercial Director. I was really encouraged by the enthusiasm of our customers in that part of the world. They were very excited about many of the product attributes such as the hardness, durability against certain types of fungi and termites, and the fire performance. Of course, they also loved the great look of the product both in its natural state and when coated.

6. The plans for LIGNIA's future expansion and success are in place – what can you tell us?

What I can say is there are lots of opportunities ahead for LIGNIA and we are getting stronger every day. The modified timber market is a large and growing market underpinned by the trend towards more sustainable building products, and the need to find a solution to the deforestation of tropical hardwoods. The LIGNIA product stands out because of its strong performance characteristics and aesthetics. The UK, European and US markets have responded very well to the product and as such, we are very focused on meeting the growing demand for LIGNIA around the world.

7. It can’t all be about work – how do you relax?

I would say that watching the Six Nations Rugby helps me relax but in fact it stresses me out! I do find running is a great way to de-stress. I also love the mountains and the sea.

8. What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was a younger, I wanted to be a round-the-world yachtsman. Thank goodness I grew out of that one! I would not have enjoyed being cold, wet and bounced around for weeks at a time without the possibility of getting off the boat.

9. What’s your favourite book and why?

I really enjoy historical fiction. I loved Leon Uris as an author growing up and am now really enjoying Robert Harris. If you haven’t read it already, I would recommend reading Conclave.

10. Favourite song?

Does anyone have just one favourite song? I like a real mix of music from The Rolling Stones, to Coldplay and even, on occasions, some classical music.

Nigel Pompeus

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