Introducing G&H CEO, Mark Webster

Mark Webster, G&H CEO
Mark Webster, G&H CEO

Mark Webster became CEO of Gooch & Housego on 1 January 2015. Mark will build on the considerable achievements of the erstwhile CEO, Gareth Jones, who succeeded in growing the company from a UK precision optics manufacturer to become a provider of photonics solutions across a range of complementary technologies with operations in both the USA and the UK. Mark’s appointment is part of a series of senior appointments, including the new COO, Alex Warnock and a new post for former CEO Gareth Jones as Chairman.

With experience of successfully growing corporate businesses in the pharmaceutical sector in Europe and North America, Mark now turns his attentions to the challenge of further growth and consolidation for G&H.“G&H has a strong foundation with a broad technology base and significant presence in the US and internationally coupled with a track record for predicting trends as well bringing on new technologies. This stands us well as we seek to grow further with a greater emphasis on added value through the research, development and commercialization of innovative and cost-saving photonics systems.”

Growth will come in a number of ways. In the aerospace & defense sector, supply chain and rigorous requirements for the rugged operation of components are the main drivers rather than technology change. We have already developed good business relations with a number of primes and will continue to drive the supply of complete subsystems in addition to components. Expansion in this sector will be followed by life sciences and there will also be niche industrial sector growth, especially in fiber optics. Key to growth has been the addition of several new highly experienced business development personnel in the UK and USA.

G&H is already a key supplier to OCT systems manufacturers, particularly for ophthalmology but also for dermatology applications. In addition the company develops and manufactures critical components for medical laser systems with applications such laser surgery for varicose veins and prostate treatment, plus the booming aesthetic market of tattoo removal. In the future this may include diagnostic oesophageal and cardiovascular systems.

In the longer term, Mark sees potential in optical systems for line-of-sight satellite communications. It was with this in mind that G&H acquired the Greek space technology start-up Constelex in late 2013 and since integrated into the company’s Systems Technology Group (STG). “Space applications play to our strengths because it’s a hostile environment; you need to deal with radiation and high temperature fluctuations, and the systems are not readily repairable. We are already investing in space and satellite but that market is probably three to five years down the line.”

The STG, launched in the Spring of 2013 now consists of 11 people, including PhD scientists, electronics and software engineers and is growing rapidly. The group has already been successful in integrating some systems in, for example, OCT, fiber optics and satellite applications. Tactically the company will now aim to expand systems development capability in the US.