All my family is from Sheffield hence the fact it was never surprising that I was interested in engineering. One of my first jobs was a part time Saturday job at Wetherby Engineering.
I started making teas, sweeping floors and cleaning down the machines. Then moved on to parting off components on an old capstan lathe and using the milling machines.
After leaving school at 16, I went to College to do a business studies degree. After one year I switched this to a part time course and started work at Hanson Stainless Strip Co in Pudsey.
This was 1977. I was trained how to use saws, guillotines and also the slitting machines, this is where I first developed my understanding of the properties of stainless steel.
In 1979 with a slightly punky look I started working with my father Brian who had set up WYS some four years earlier.
I mainly drove the truck. Once or twice a week round the North East, then the next day over to Lancashire. All round the North, East and West Ridings of Yorkshire and down to the Midlands.
My furthest delivery at the time was a truckload of forged rings to Chard in Somerset. It took me two days to get there and back.
Once a fortnight I would put on my brown three piece suit with flared trousers and call on current and prospective customers with our 4 page black and white brochure. It had been designed by a mate of mine who was at art college.
It was a tough learning curve at the sharp end of selling to engineers and steel buyers who wanted to save money at all costs.
I learnt to type the invoices and delivery notes on a manual typewriter. I had a pager but all it did was beep. Then I had to drive around and find a telephone box to call the office.
Our customer base became quite extensive, from ICI and the NCB to individual engineers who worked from home in their garage, I learnt to engage with all types of people.
Entertaining customers was big in the 80s and 90s. However it was when British Steel got in touch with me and took four of us for a big night out at Ripley Castle I realised that the business was really going places.
We went through turbulent times during the miners and the steel strike and over the years I have seen business come and go, companies have got bigger and merged or been taken over. Others have just faded away. I have seen new steels been invented and developed and some of the old specifications become obsolete and disappear. Computers, the internet and mobile phones and other gadgets are now part of our modern lives, not just something that you saw on ‘Tomorrows World’. However the one constant is that forty years later the company that I am passionate about is still growing and developing. We have recently extended the offices and warehousing and just recently launched our 4th web site after a whole year of development.
I look forward to talking to customers every day, both old and new. Also imparting the knowledge I have learnt over 40 years in this dynamic and exciting industry. The thrill of landing that ‘big order’ still never fails to excite me. The future for me is still looking bright. There is always new potential business and the opportunities Brexit offers, I am taking as a positive not a negative.
I am looking forward to the future, although maybe not another forty years at the office!