Paul Farmer OBE has been the Managing Director of Wade Ceramics for over 20 years. He was the President of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce from November 2016 to November 2019 and still plays an active role as Honorary Treasurer.
Paul joined Wade Ceramics in 1996 as the Financial Director and was on the verge of moving to another company when the opportunity for a management buyout was presented in 1999. Following the successful acquisition, Paul became Managing Director in 2000 and led the company back to profitability over the following three years. This was in part thanks to innovations such as the world’s first high pressure hollowware casting machine, developed by Wade Ceramics in partnership with a German manufacturer, which enabled the company to more than double production capacity within the same factory space.
In 2009, Wade Ceramics began transitioning into a new £8m factory in Stoke-on-Trent’s Festival Trade Park, the first new greenfield ceramics factory in the region for over 50 years. The site was officially opened in 2010 by HRH The Duke of Kent. In October 2018, Wade Ceramics also reopened the former Aynsley China site in Longton. Paul’s successful leadership of Wade Ceramics saw him awarded OBE for International Trade and Services to the Ceramics Industry in Her Majesty’s 2014 New Year’s Honours List.
The company now employs over 200 people, including several Staffordshire University graduates and more than a dozen apprentices undertaking courses at colleges locally, one of whom was the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Apprentice of the Year. Wade Ceramics has also engaged in numerous projects with Staffordshire University over the years, including annual design competitions and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) in conjunction with the School of Digital, Technologies and Arts.
Paul is a product of the Stoke-on-Trent education system himself. Having grown up in Hanley, he attended Cauldon Primary School and Hanley High Grammar School. Paul then became a trainee accountant at Wedgwood and was part of the first cohort to undertake professional exams in cost and management accounting at the Leek Road campus of Staffordshire Polytechnic, which later became Staffordshire University.
After six years, he moved to BICC Metals as a financial analyst. Another six years later, he joined Lucas Aerospace in Yorkshire, as a finance manager in the actuation division, where he was involved in negotiating contracts worth millions of pounds. Two years later, he was headhunted by Spring Bathrooms, where he rose from financial manager to director in his five years with the company. Finally, he spent three years in the bakery industry, working for Hazelwood Foods, before joining Wade Ceramics.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Paul in recognition of his role as one of the most respected and influential business leaders in Staffordshire and the significant role he has played in the regeneration and development of the local economy. The award also acknowledges his daring management style and innovative approach to business, which has seen a significant boost to employment in the region and long-term sustainability of Stoke-on-Trent.