I joined the Horstmann Gear Company as an apprentice aged 17, way back in 1974. My family lived twelve miles from the office and my father worked in the Somerset coal mines, but that way of life was ending. I was always keen on figuring out how things work, and still am of course. So I was fortunate, from early on, I was clear about what I liked doing, and about pursuing mechanical engineering. My family also gave me encouragement to take up this line.
There were fifteen of us youngsters who started out together. Horstmann was a privately owned family-business, like Secure. A similar sense of care for employees as well as their families was always there. Duties were numerous and the work was labour intensive, but as today – if we or our family are ever in need, everyone pulls together and gives us the space required to focus on what’s important in life.
After completing my apprenticeship, I was assigned to the toolroom as a junior engineer. I was in that role for four years, by which time I was a fully-qualified toolmaker. One day I heard that one of my mentors in the production engineering office was retiring, and to my surprise I was asked to take on his role. It was quite a stretch – but I managed, and was pleased about the 50p extra I got paid a week!
Slowly and surely over the years, my roles became more responsible. I love the fact that there’s always something new to learn in this field. Nothing stays static for long and Horstmann, like Secure today, recognised the importance of supporting employees to keep on learning. I’ve benefited a great deal from this on-going mutual commitment to my growth.
The 80s and 90s were a tough time for industry and Horstmann. I remember scrap-metal being sold-off to meet our monthly salaries. It was a great relief when Secure came along in 2007. Suddenly there was a fresh wind and a global perspective. Later, when it was decided production would largely be shifted and taken care of in India, my team spent 12-months going backwards and forwards between UK and India.
It was challenging, but an amazing opportunity to develop skills and experience. Towards the end of this time my boss, Sanjay Shrivastava was recalled from his secondment to Bristol and resumed duties in India. I was asked if I could step-in as Head of Operations in Bristol. I assumed this was temporary, until the position could be filled. I suppose it may have been amusing for others to watch it dawn on me, as I came to realise – no, this is not a stop-gap in my career – this role will likely complete this particular working life of mine!
But having said that, although I am sixty-one and nearing the end of my career, I am aware at Secure we are always looking for the next challenge, so perhaps there’s still a chance for me to take on something new. We are happy to report that soon after Kevin shared this story, he was promoted to Site Head in Bristol!