70 facts about Advanced Dynamics

In line with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee - celebrating 70 marvellous years of Her Majesty’s reign - our team have pulled together 70 facts about the business and the people that make Advanced Dynamics what it is!

How much do you know about Advanced Dynamics?

The truth is, probably not a lot. Don’t worry, we’re not going to be cropping up on Mastermind anytime soon.

That said, we’ve been on quite the journey, one that dates back to 1998, in fact.

There have been big changes. People have come and gone. Most are still here. There are some we can’t get rid of! We’ve transitioned our offering and expanded it again and again and again. There’ve been big wins and a lot of memorable nights along the way.

And so, in line with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – celebrating 70 marvellous years of Her Majesty’s reign – our team have pulled together 70 facts about the business and the people that make Advanced Dynamics what it is!

For our sanity, we have kept this in chronological order: starting from the beginning of the business right to where we are today.

Grabba cuppa and settle in, you’re going to know far more about our business after this!

1 – our Executive Chairman and Founder, Malcolm Little, established Crusader Europe Ltd in 1998, which specialised in selling labelling machines

2 – following a buyout in 2000, that business moved to group ownership

3 – welcome aboard, Stewart Mansell! Stewart joined Crusader Europe Ltd. in 2000 and the poor bloke remains today as the longest-serving member of the team… what did we say at the beginning about people we can’t get rid of!

4 – Stewart may be the longest-serving member, but David Thwaite keeps putting up a good fight. David is a big Liverpool fan, following them around the world, and joined our business in 2002.

5 – The Spanish sun was calling for one of our original partners, who left in 2003 to begin a property business in Spain!

6 – A date to remember… Advanced Dynamics is formed after Crusader Europe merges with WLT Ltd, run by Mike Essler. This merger also saw the business expand its machinery range to include wrappers and friction feeders

7 – Within Advanced Dynamics, we refer to the years between 2007-2011 as the ‘Hallmark Years’! Our business exploded during this time as we sold large amounts of machinery to Hallmark, who you will know as the greeting card specialist. In fact, between 80%-90% of our business came from the print industry at this point.

8 – Want to know how Malcolm ended up in hospital for the first time? He only went and ‘slipped’ in a hotel lobby and gave himself a severe concussion and split head during a trip to Germany in 2010. He’s never been the same since.

9 – fun fact, Malcolm ended up in the hospital again while out in Germany… we’re too embarrassed to say how.

10 – the years between 2008-2010 were a defining moment in our history, as many greeting card companies, including Hallmark, began to ship their production to China.

11 – Advanced Dynamics moved to a larger base, taking the business from Thornton Road to Staithgate Lane.

12 – true story… David Thwaites fell off a mezzanine and was found hanging from a ladder in 2011. This is the same guy that would later become Health and Safety Executive. Make of that what you will!

13 – another key date in our timeline! In 2011, Malcolm met Pack Leader Machinery – a bloody good manufacturer of labelling, sleeving, filling, and capping equipment from Taiwan. We shook hands on an open selling relationship with a target of becoming exclusive in 12 months. Sounds like something of a Rom-Com doesn’t it!

14 – now you’re wondering whether we did become exclusive, right? We absolutely did and signed our exclusivity agreement in 2012… ahead of schedule, too!

15 – we rolled out the red carpet to Vanessa Lewis who joined us in October 2012, initially as a accounts administrator

16 – next on board was a chap called Dave Perret. A great friend and customer, from his time at Hallmark Cards. He joined us as Technical Support Engineer

17 – for better or worse… Malcolm met Thomas Smith at (or under) a bar at the PPMA Exhibition. And so begins another beautiful bromance!

18 – speaking of bromance… Matthew ‘Trigger’ Green joined the business in 2014.

19 – the team just keeps growing… Jack Wade joins our team as a Technical Support Engineer in 2014.

20 – remember Stewart Mansell? Well, he was promoted to Engineering Manager in 2014.

Chapter 1: 2015 – 2020


21 – our Vanessa kicks off a very busy five years for the business by taking on an extended role, managing the development of our ERP software system.

22 – the start of some pretty big conversations, Malcolm began discussions with Mike Essler about a buy-out in 2015

23 – the bromance that started a few years ago becomes official, Thomas Smith joined Advanced Dynamics as a Sales Manager in 2015.

24 – one of the saddest days in our history. 25 February 2016 – a date we will always remember, after our friend, colleague, and mentor, Dave Perret, is tragically taken from us. There isn’t a day that goes by that we do not miss him.

25 – Director, friend, and colleague, Mike Essler, announces his retirement in 2016

26 – sticking with Mike for a little while longer, it is also confirmed that Malcolm buys out Mike to secure a 100% shareholding of Advanced Dynamics.

27 – from Mike to Malcolm, now to Matthew Green! He earns a promotion and becomes our Senior Technical Support Engineer in 2016.

28 – did we tell you that Matthew is renowned as the world’s most attractive ginger?

29 – moving on and our engineering team continues to grow – first up is Damon Coleman. True story, Damon actually has a milling machine in his dining room!

30 – Damon is followed into the business by the man with a killer smile, Jack Crowther.

31 – 2016 was a special year for Malcolm for another reason… he only went and bought an Aston Martin!

32 – as you can tell, we’re more than just about business here. We celebrate the small wins, like Thomas Smith running his first marathon (in an ok time). Well done you, we guess!

33 – from growing the team, we turned our attention to expanding our foot space and stockholding by acquiring a new unit in 2017.

34 – with more space to play with, it makes sense to appoint a Warehouse Assistant, right? We welcomed James Shaw aboard in 2017.

35 – from representing England playing the beautiful game to joining Advanced Dynamics as a Technical Support Engineer. Some would say it didn’t work out for Daniel Cunningham. They would be absolutely wrong.

36 – As part of our Chapter 1 Business Growth Startegy we expanded our stocking policy of completed machines to provide quicker delivery times.

37 – 2018 marked the birth of the company’s vision, purpose, and ethos

    1. Vision: to be the most proactive and supportive company in the packaging industry
    2. Purpose: to make a tangible, worthwhile and meaningful contribution to all our partners – with style, grave and good humour!
    3. Ethos: …because it matters!

38 – a big one for Thomas Smith… as he flukes his way into a board-level position and is named as Sales Director

39 – Malcolm graduated from the Goldman Sachs Small Business Programme in 2018.  Something that would heavily influence him and the business over the coming years.

40 – The big steps just keep coming… both of our factories go through major refurbishments in 2018 as part of our growth mission

41 – we haven’t had a hire for a while, let’s get back to that. Ross Miller joins Advanced Dynamics as a non-executive director

42 – Matthew Green (again) steps up to become a Project Manager

43 – Enthused by everything (no, like really, everything) and a talented musician, the lovely Finola O’Driscoll comes aboard the Advanced Dynamics ship as Operations Assistant

44 – the last bit of action from 2018… drum roll, please! … … … Advanced Dynamics moves the management of its corporate accounts to Mazars. Phwoar, that was a big day!

45 – can confirm we’re into 2019 now (ah, pre-pandemic days)! Vanessa is back again as she moves into a customer service role in April

46 – like, is this a job change merry-go-round or something? Matthew ‘Trigger’ Green (just to remind you that we’re also talking about the best ginger in the world) changes just for the 400th time and becomes Business Development Manager.

47 – right, we’re back on to a new hire. In 2019, we crossed enemy territory to pinch resident funny man, Ian Parkin. Ian used to work for Hallmark and became our Production and Planning Manager.

48 – following Ian, we had Molly Smith join us as an Accounts Clerk in May

49 – still with us? Bless you! Advanced Dynamics made a hire of a different kind when it began working with Hallam to lead on a full rebrand and new website that reflected our new direction and ethos.

50 – Did you know that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Advanced Dynamics actually supplied large volumes of hand sanitiser to help with the nationwide shortage? As a result, Tailored Manufacturing Ltd. was formed and continues to operate as a contract manufacturer of cleaning and sanitising products.

51 – during 2020, we announced that we had more than doubled our revenue in under five years, growing from £2 million to £5.5 million.

52 – since 2015, we have nearly tripled our headcount from eight employees to 23 by early 2021.

53 – Do you know what we love more than a new hire? Developing people. And in August 2020, our business hired its first-ever apprentices – Conor Linegar, Adam Barrett and Jedd Kedzierski.

Chapter 2: 2021 – present


54 – you know who is kick-ass when it comes to sales? Vanessa is! And in 2021 she joined the sales team full-time.

55 – Matthew Green. Another job promotion. Blah, blah, blah! In all seriousness, as part of our new sales process, Trigger only went and became Sales Manager!

56 – another hire through the door, in 2021, we welcome Vicky Kershaw to the team as Executive Assistant.

57 – Vicky was closely followed by Daniel Clarke, a rugby league fan and someone who isn’t a stranger to a pint glass (so he fits in very well, indeed!), who joined our engineering team

58 – another big moment in our business’ history! Yes, in 2021, we went through a partial MBO in order to facilitate long term future security. Why, do you ask?

59 – After 23 years at the helm (bloody good going by the way), Malcolm decided to take on the role of Executive Chairman. Meaning…

60 – Thomas Smith became the new majority shareholder of the business.

61 – more news about Malcolm. As a result of his side-step to execeutive chairman, in April he secured a place at the local rest home for the terminally bewildered (awww).

62 – Thomas Smith becomes Managing Director of Advanced Dynamics at the age of 31. Those grey hairs have shot through ever since.

63 – a little insight for you as to what Chapter 2 actually means to us…

  1. Expansion of the range of machinery in both new and existing markets to achieve a full turnkey offering for full line automation.
  2. Increase the Average Order Value
  3. Create and develop a customer care department
  4. Increase the volume of leads and explore new routes to market
  5. Continue to grow the sales team & increase conversion rates

64 – In 2021, Advanced Dynamics launched its own internal marketing function.

65 – following on from the above, Laura Anwyll joined the team as Brand Manager, but she didn’t come alone…

66 – Yep, Advanced Dynamics hired a husky (yes, you read that right)! Ruby joined our team as a part-time marketing assistant and full-time diva.

67 – one here that is really close to our hearts… we signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2021.

68 – we applied, we got shortlisted, we came, we conquered! We were proud to win the Small Business of the Year Award at the Business Desks Business Masters Awards 2021.

69 – Our very own Malcolm turned 60 on 26 April. We’ll not tell you what he did to celebrate.

70 – while it’s fitting that we’re doing this list as part of our celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, it’s even more fitting to end with it as Advanced Dynamics is selected to feature in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Official St James’ House publication. As part of the honour, Malcolm Little and Thomas Smith were invited to attend the book launch at Claridge’s London on 5 June ‘22.

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