New MD for JJ Smith as third generation family members step down

Former MD, Martin Smith, with daughter Dr Rachael Baker, who’ll take over this role

Managing Director of JJ Smith & Co. (Woodworking Machinery) Ltd, Martin Smith, recently announced his plan to step down from this role. Also signalling his phased retirement from the company is Sales Director, John Stanley. Martin and John, both born on 23 August 1957, are third generation family members, who’ve worked for the company for 39 and 46 years respectively.

Martin Smith

Martin Smith joined JJ Smith as company accountant in August 1983, having qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked in the drinks industry as a management accountant. On arrival, he introduced the first computer to the business, which, up to that point, had prepared accounts in manual ledgers. In the 1990s, he was appointed Managing Director and responsible for a period of controlled expansion underpinned by increasingly sound finances.

In the late 1990s, Martin was able to spend less time on the management side of things and moved into sales while retaining role of MD. Martin used his accounting knowledge to recognise that an opportunity existed for the justification of optimising crosscuts, in particular, to increase both productivity and yield to make this equipment financially beneficial for customers. In turn, this led to the company becoming the market leader in such machines – a position it’d managed to successfully retain for a number of years. Around 2000, Martin was responsible for the company’s move into the offsite construction sector, which culminated in the setting up of a joint venture – Modular Building Automation bv. This market segment is now the largest area the company is active in.


Sales Director, John Stanley, has been instrumental in JJ Smith’s success

John Stanley

John Stanley’s journey started in 1976 with an initial training role in the tooling and spare parts departments, mainly to gain knowledge of machinery operation for the joinery and furniture industries. In 1977, the company was appointed exclusive UK importer for SCM Group machinery, manufactured in Italy, and John was appointed Sales Manager for all this equipment.

After spending two months in Italy training on SCM machines, the wide range became a huge seller over the coming years and the company’s turnover rose exponentially with sales of classical machinery and more specialised edgebanders, beam saws, moulders and CNC routers. Additional equipment from other major worldwide manufacturers was added over the next five years and became a mainstay for JJ Smith’s continued growth to this day.

John was appointed Sales Director in 1986, being responsible for the purchasing and selling of all JJ Smith used machinery. This led to worldwide travel, visiting customers and attending exhibitions in Australia, the USA, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand and Russia. During the early ‘90s, John negotiated and completed the largest order in the company’s history to date – the supply and installation of a complete furniture factory to Sytvytkar, in Russia, which took JJ Smith technicians five months to install and commission.

On stepping down from a full-time role in September this year, John will remain within the company, assisting the next generation of family – his son Ian being one – in the run up to its centenary celebrations, which will be held during the entirety of 2023. During his semi-retirement, John looks forward to enjoying more holidays, walking his dog Buddy, and continuing his lifelong passion following Everton Football Club.

Rachael Baker

While stepping down from the business’ day-to-day management and retiring from position of Managing Director, Martin will still be involved on a part-time basis, where he’ll maintain an oversight role for larger offsite projects. A third generation family member, Martin was keen to retain the business within family ownership and over the years, has sought to promote suitably qualified family members.

Martin is pleased that his daughter, Dr Rachael Baker, is able to assume the new role of MD. As a fitting gift to a keen beekeeper – and past president of the British Beekeeping Association – Martin was presented with beekeeping equipment produced by one of JJ Smith’s customers, EH Thorne (Beehives) Ltd.

Rachael comments: “On behalf of everyone at JJ Smith, we’re incredibly grateful for the phenomenal dedication that Martin and John have shown to the company over the past four decades. Through their careful and courageous leadership, JJ Smith has grown into an internationally recognised business and I’m honoured to be part of the team that’ll continue this work into the future.”

For further information on JJ Smith, see the website:

JJ Smith & Co (Woodworking Machinery) Ltd
Moorgate Point, Moorgate Road, Knowsley Industrial Park
Kirkby, Liverpool
L33 7DR
0151 548 9000