Local family firm celebrates past and future
On the 26th April, 1962, a fifteen year old boy turned up for his first day at work, with no idea that he would be retiring from the same company, on the same date, fifty years later. Halstead-based precision castings manufacturer, Maycast-Nokes Precision Engineering Ltd, is celebrating this month as a well-respected employee marks a terrific achievement of fifty years with the company. The company is a key supplier to the international aerospace and defence industries and supplies a range of customers with components for use by Airbus, Boeing and the Ministry of Defence.
Phil Moore joined the business in 1962, but things looked a little different back then. What is now known as Maycast-Nokes, was then Evans Electroselenium Ltd – a manufacturer of medical supplies. 'My first day was terrifying,' recalls Phil, 'it was my first job out of school, I was just 15 and didn't know anyone...or anything.' After starting work in the Linishing department, Phil soon started to learn the ropes while working in a variety of departments within the company.
In 1971, the company became known as Evans Foundry, and following the arrival of a new general manager, the business was renamed as Nokes Foundry. The current chairman, Colin Richer, became an equal shareholder in 1982 and in 1993 he lead the acquisition of Maycast Precision Products of Hitchin, an investment foundry in Hertfordshire. The new arm of the business moved to Halstead in 1998 and the company became what it is today – Maycast-Nokes.
Throughout this change and growth, Phil was working his way around the business and finally settled in the Pattern Shop around 20 years ago. 'Modern technology has changed everything about what we do here – but it's still a very skilled job. A drawing will come in, we study it carefully, and then build the pattern out of wood or resin. Every pattern is different, which has meant that no two days are ever the same – even over 20 years,' Phil explains.
The Halstead-based company now employs over 130 people in its sand and investment casting foundries, machine shop and state of the art inspection and test facilities. Steve Wallings, managing director, joined the company in 1983 and like Phil, spent his early years learning and working his way through a number of specialist areas. 'The management team have come up through the business, so we understand how it works. When you know the process, you can better support your staff, and they'll respect you for it,' says Steve. 'There's always been a family ethos here, with management always visible on the shop floor supporting the staff. The owners understand that everyone is important to the business, from the man sweeping up at the end of the day, to the shareholders in the boardroom.'
Despite Phil's impressive service record, he's not the only one to have accomplished so many years with Maycast-Nokes. Steve Wallings has served almost 30 years with the business himself, and can count twenty members of staff who each have over 20 years service. 'Staff retention is something we're very proud of here, as it's key to our success,' says Steve. 'Ours is a very labour intensive industry, with skills taking time to develop – which is why we make sure our staff are looked after.'
Maycast-Nokes is looking to the future, and sees reinvestment, its staff and its innovative apprenticeship programme as keys to its ongoing success. With youth unemployment still a hot topic, Maycast-Nokes continue to invest in the region's young people. 'We currently employ six apprentices across the company, and plan to bring on at least two more this year,' explains Steve. The company pays above the government recommended rate for apprentices and has its own well-established scheme. 'The sky's the limit with our apprentices, they can take their training as far as they wish to – a number of our former apprentices now hold key positions within the business, and are looking into studying degrees in their specialist subject,' Steve says.
When asked what tips he would pass on to the new crop of apprentices, Phil says 'Think about and learn from what you're doing – and enjoy it. They just need to find what they love, like I did, then just do it.' With almost half a century with the same company behind him, Phil is looking to his own future, 'I've always liked the work and enjoyed the company – there are some real characters here. I could have moved on, and chased money, but would I have been as happy? Probably not. It's been my life, and I've enjoyed every minute – but now I plan to enjoy myself even more!'
For more information about Maycast-Nokes Foundry, visit their website at www.maycast.co.uk.