Darren Joint, Managing Director and Co-Owner, Viking Signs Ltd

Darren Joint is the Managing Director and co-owner of the manufacturing on-demand company, Viking Signs Ltd. From its origins as a local, bespoke signmaking company – Darren has revolutionised his business.

I was stood one day looking at late and wrong orders from our traditional supplier of safety signs thinking “we could do this so much better”. Our competitors approached the problem by printing in greater volume and buying bigger warehouses. I wondered if I could apply what I’d learnt about lean manufacturing at Ford, to build my business a different way. At the time I didn’t know what we were doing would come to be known as mass customisation, and part of the 4th Industrial Revolution. I just wanted to see if we could grow our business based on what I knew worked in the automotive industry. We were one of the first to launch fully digital, volume production and apply lean principles to this market.

10 years later and Viking Signs can offer the largest range of standard and custom safety signs in the UK, all manufactured on-demand from our lean digital factory in Grantham. Our 40,000+ products are available to buy multichannel, online and offline, direct to end users and resold through major international marketplaces.

Darren is an engineer, originally with Ford and then Visteon. These organisations helped him develop strong people, technical and commercial acumen, in production, product design, business development & leadership roles. His corporate experience bred an intolerance for bureaucracy and waste, blended with respect for processes and systems.

Passionate about UK manufacturing as force for good in the economy, Darren is currently vice-chair of the Nottingham Manufacturing Network, serving on EEF’s regional advisory board & the Greater Lincolnshire LEP Manufacturing Board. He’s also a trustee of Inspire+, the sports charity which promotes leadership, independence and confidence in young people through sports participation and coaching, regardless of ability.

Disrupting the norm, learning from experience, lean thinking, knowing & stretching himself, building a great team & making things better is what makes Darren tick.


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