News: MD John Oakley discusses life behind the brand of NERAK UK, the journey, the future and his personal passions…


It’s true that being a MD is a huge responsibility but also a huge privilege. I would like to take some time to share some of my thoughts on that responsibility and great privilege…

Nerak is built on solid foundations with a combination of the best of both British and German design and manufacture.

For over 30 years we have shared our expertise and built and celebrated our relationships both internally within our teams and externally with our customers and supplier base.

We are very proud of our heritage and the way in which we support billion pound corporations across the globe from our UK head office in Brecon, Wales.

We don’t rush into decisions here and we don’t steer off our direction of travel to be the best vertical elevation supplier in the world.

When our customers purchase products from us, they purchase our lifelong commitment to them. They rely on us to provide them with exceptional products and exceptional service because our machines are essential to their operations. Our machines ensure the consistent flow of product through their route to market. Any deviation from that would have substantial implications to the smooth running of their business, we won’t allow that to happen.

As with every business, it’s necessary to change, improve and evolve; Nerak is on that journey of change.

Much has been written about how people like Clive Woodward, the World Cup-winning rugby coach and Dave Brailsford from Team Sky (British cycling) focused their efforts on making incremental changes, changes of 1% or 2% that made the difference between winning or losing.

At Nerak we are looking to improve in step changes of 30%, 50% or even 100% – and we know we can do this by thinking differently. We are challenging the status quo, really living and breathing improving behaviours and understanding WHY we do what we do every day. We are seeing some phenomenal results.

There are many great leaders, brands and motivational speakers who have shared their journeys to success. We have identified and adopted a select few of these principles that align with the values and ethos of Nerak.

Simply put, above everything else, we believe our people are the key to our success, not the numbers.

We support and value eachother as you would in a family and it’s those bonds and cross-links that truly drive our commitment to one another and to the business.

Too many companies lose productivity and efficiency because people don’t work well together at work. The world of work is being turned on its head with formal and authoritative cultures becoming a thing of the past – the new way, that as leaders, we have to give up “control” to gain “power”.

The confidence, empowerment and agility I see developing in our team team is inspirational and I would encourage everyone to consider this approach. The impact is often underestimated. It cascades through to how we support our customers across all aspects of our business, from supply chain, sales and installations to aftercare.

Outside of the day job, I have a beautiful wife and a 12 year old son. I’d like to say you won’t find a bigger Wales rugby fan but I know I’d be rightly challenged on that! As well as the International games I’m also a big believer in supporting local rugby. Nerak are one of the main sponsors of Ystradgynlais Rugby Club and two of our guys play for them so I’m often on the side lines cheering. Scott Amber played in the WRU Plate Final at the Millennium Stadium in 2016 and we won, it was a fantastic game of rugby. I am often seen watching the Ironmen, my local team in Merthyr Tydfil.

There’s a strong golf culture developing at Nerak. Personally, I play at Cradoc Golf Club in Brecon and at Nerak we have a corporate membership at Machynys Golf Club, which is a Nicklaus designed course in Pembroke National Park – apparently, it is arguably the best man made links course in the UK ! I very much enjoy taking our customers and partners there….

I’m currently having lessons with Mark Govier, one of the professionals at Machynys – the idea being to improve my golf. I thought I was an OK golfer and could get around the course but my swing has been ripped apart and as a result I’m enduring a serious dip in form!!

When I’m not at the golf club or watching rugby I’m usually with my family. We’ve spent the last year and a half restoring a home, they call that a labour of love … they are right… I shall be glad when we paint our final staircase spindle and plaster our last wall, but it’s true, that whatever good things we build, end up building us.

Pablo Picasso once said “the meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away” and you could say as a team, we are finding our gift. My role is to support the team achieve the goals they aim for and maybe even better them.

Every day we aspire to do justice to our values and build our legacy; for me that’s a great aspiration to start any day with.

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