Manchester Evening News, May 15th 2007
Newton – A Soaring Success
month the Manchester Evening News ran a special feature
on Mike Newton, racing driver and CEO of AD Group. This
is a slightly edited version of that feature, with thanks
to the Manchester Evening News for their permission to reproduce
Newton is rather proud of the new addition to his fleet
of corporate jets. AD Aviation, which is part of his AD
Group portfolio of companies, has just taken delivery of
a new Citation Eagle II.
eight-seater aircraft takes the number of planes in the
AD Aviation fleet to three, and will now allow the region's
executives to travel as far afield as Africa, the Middle
East and Near Asia. The demand for private jet travel has
‘taken off’ in recent years on the back of security
alerts, lengthy delays at airports, and an appreciation
of “travelling in style”. Mike, who established
the business in 1998 after finding that his companies were
regularly having to charter jets in order to respond quickly
to customer demands, says that AD Aviation, based at Liverpool
John Lennon Airport, is meeting the needs of the corporate
market, and satisfying the requirements for this growing
trend in executive travel. "It is not about flying
rock stars to Cannes," he quips, "but providing
a cost-effective, secure, convenient and flexible way to
travel for the region's executives. The bill for eight Club
Class tickets to Nice would be more than £8,000, but
to charter one of our aircraft would cost around £6,000.”
also insists that it’s not just about the expense,
but it is also about the time spent travelling. “A
single European meeting could take two days of executive
time with scheduled flights, whereas we can fly to more
than one country in a day," he says. But what about
the cost to the environment? Surely whizzing executives
around the skies can't be of great benefit to the planet?
Mike’s response is to say that it’s important
to keep things in perspective. “All aviation traffic
counts for less that two per cent of the world’s carbon
footprint, while private charter is a tiny fraction of that,"
he says. Mike admits that there is a certain 'boys and their
toys' element about the most recent additions to his portfolio,
but he is also one of the region's most successful businessmen
who, with only a few thousand pound investment, made his
fortune from closed circuit television.
in Ashton-under-Lyne, Mike took a computer science degree
at Manchester University. While studying he was approached
by ComputerBar Security Systems to help develop a device
to keep a tally on the amount of alcohol dispensed from
bar optics. It proved to be an impossible task and he says
that even now nobody has managed to come up with an effective
solution, but the budding entrepreneur had spotted an opportunity
in the region's snooker clubs. “I approached the company
with the idea of developing an electronic charging unit
for snooker clubs,” he explains. “In the early
1980s there was a big explosion in the sport and those who
went to the clubs gave their names to the person behind
the bar who then kept a tally of how long they were at the
table. It was fairly time consuming but my device kept a
record as soon as the lights came on at the table and people
then paid at the end.” It was a simple concept but
seemingly not attractive enough to tempt the firm behind
the bar optic idea, so Mike decided to launch it himself.
'begging and borrowing' around £6,000, he founded
his first company, Dedicated Micros (DM) in 1982. That was
25 years ago and Mike went on to develop a digital multiplexer,
a device for recording and playing back video footage. His
invention was to evolve into what we now know as CCTV, and
DM has subsequently grown into the world leader in its field.
says the secret lies in the ability to second-guess the
market and be at the forefront of innovation. In 1997, when
DM was a thriving £29m enterprise with a number of
international offices, Mike decided to sell a 36 per cent
stake to venture capitalists 3i. At the time of the deal,
Mike also formed AD Group as a home for the parts of the
business that 3i didn't want. Those elements included DM’s
aviation technology division, which produced in-plane CCTVs,
and a number of products that allowed for remote monitoring
for use on school buses, police cars and public transport.
3i paid around £20m for the stake in DM, but according
to Mike, made "rather a mess of the business"
and four years later he bought it back for a mere £2m.
“When the business was sold in 1997, the growth targets
were excellent. However, 3i seemed to think that there was
no potential to grow the business beyond the £30m
mark. By the time I bought it back, turnover was down from
£29m to £17m. However, a year later it was up
to £40m and now has sales of more than £80m.”
year AD Group celebrates its tenth anniversary, employs
600 people and has a turnover of around £85m. The
group incorporates a multitude of companies whose products
are at the cutting edge of innovation. Mike says the next
big growth market is in image analysis and the group is
currently working on CCTV technology which, once installed
in retail outlets, will be able to recognise known shoplifters
and alert security staff as soon as they enter the shop.
Mike is driven by the desire to innovate and, at the age
of 47, has no intention of slowing down. “I tried
that back in 1997, when the venture capitalists came in,
and look what happened then!” he laughs.
who is married with 10-year-old twins, certainly enjoys
life to the full. The Sunday Times Rich List recently suggested
that Mike's wealth was estimated to stand at some £385m,
making him the 206th richest person in Britain. While he
concedes that the figure is pretty much near the mark, he
says it should all be taken with a pinch of salt. “Could
I go and write a cheque for £385m?” he asks.
“Could I heck! It is all quite artificial.”
It is certainly not a case of all work and no play for Mike
Newton, however, and as visitors to this website know, he
enjoys racing his MG Lola EX264 at circuits around the world
and, along with his team mates at RML, Thomas Erdos and
Andy Wallace, won his class at Le Mans in 2005 and 2006.
Mike is also a qualified pilot and regularly flies AD Aviation's
aircraft around the skies of Britain and Europe
Director, ComputerBar Security systems (Post education),
various jobs during education from tyre fitter, fuel
pump cashier to software engineer
long is your working day?
long as it takes - sometimes into the next day.
is the worst mistake you ever made?
Trusting a smiling venture capitalist.
is your best achievement?
Winning Le Mans LMP2 class twice in the MG Lola EX264
is your favourite restaurant and why?
the best Manchester ones have closed!
was the last book you read?
by Dean Koontz
is parked in your driveway?
the moment? A Volvo V70R, a Bentley Turbo, an Audi,
Lotus Esprit, MG Midget . . . and an Iveco 7.5t truck.
celebrity would you like to be stuck on a desert island
with and why?
Hurley – looks great, resourceful, good chance
of getting rescued because someone will come looking
more information please visit Dedicated Micros website www.dedicatedmicros.com
or contact the Customer Services Department on Tel: 0845