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DIRECTIONS February • 2013

Pailton Described as ‘An Inspiration’ by Ed Miliband Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband made an impromptu visit to Pailton last year at which he praised Pailton’s apprenticeship scheme.

John Nollett & Ed Miliband

After having a tour of the factory and offices he described the firm as “an inspiration” commenting: “I came to this company to see for myself what’s been happening on the ground at an engineering firm like this and I’ve been incredibly impressed.

“They really invest in their workforce, particularly their young people, who are desperate for opportunities. “It’s up to the government to back companies like this and companies all around Britain.” His visit coincided with the recruitment of two former IT apprentices - a first for the company - and the recruitment of a further four new apprentices who commenced their one year’s college training in September.

Pailton engineering listed in Top 100 apprentice employers Pailton has been listed as one of 100 of the UK’s leading employers of apprentices. The list, which was compiled by the National Apprenticeship Service and City & Guilds, recognises excellence in businesses, both large and small, that employ apprentices. It is a tremendous accolade for the company and follows Pailton’s success in the National Apprenticeship Awards in which they achieved Highly Commended status for the West Midlands Region having entered the awards for the first time. The announcement was made at The Skills Show in Birmingham where David Way, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, congratulated the employers on their success: “The breadth and depth of employers on our top 100 list just goes to show the

huge impact apprenticeships have on companies of all sizes and the wider UK economy. Apprenticeships are the country’s gold standard for vocational training. As part of the new era for apprenticeships, we are introducing measures to ensure there has never been a better time for employers to hire apprentices. “With more higher level apprenticeships (up to degree level), rigorous new standards for all apprenticeships and new financial incentives for small firms who hire their first apprentices, employers can be confident that apprenticeships will deliver for them.” This is clearly evident within Pailton where many of the senior management of today started as apprentices. Managing Director John Nollett sees apprentices as the ‘lifeblood’ of the company, ensuring that Pailton

maintains the necessary skill set in order to compete within a global marketplace. Pailton first launched its apprenticeship scheme 15 years ago and since that time has each year brought new apprentices on board, each of who have benefited from the company’s comprehensive training programme. Indeed it was this commitment to training that attracted the attention of the judges at the National Apprenticeship Awards. John Nollett commented: “We were thrilled to have received recognition of our apprenticeship scheme in this way. We have always operated on the ethos that investment in our people is as important as investment in technology and we recognise that the strength and skill of our workforce is at the very cornerstone of our continued success.”

INSIDE: Tribute to Ralph...Sorting out the French...Hairy Movember...

PAILTON MD ELECTED TO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BOARD John Nollett, who has steered his award-winning precision engineering company to develop a global reputation in its field, has been elected to join the board of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. It is a major accolade for the Coventry businessman, who last year was named as one of the top young entrepreneurs in the 42 under 42 awards, and this year was a finalist in the Institute of Directors’ Director of the Year Award. As Pailton’s Managing Director

he has continued to buck the national trend by continuing to develop and expand the company through exploring new market opportunities such as the military and bus sectors. Having built a global reputation with sites in the US and Germany, Pailton is now looking to expand into India. All products continue to be manufactured in Coventry and exports now account for 72 per cent of the business. Pailton’s customers include high-profile names such as JCB, Caterpillar, Scania, Dennis Eagle

and Leyland DAF in addition to the company having a strong foothold within the military sector. John’s election to the Chamber board comes at a time when the organisation, which has around 1,500 member companies in Coventry and Warwickshire, has launched a campaign to get more firms trading internationally. He is passionate about his company’s Midlands roots and Coventry’s engineering heritage and is pleased to be able to fly the flag for manufacturing and

PAILTON HELPS TO SOLVE FRENCH TOURIST PROBLEM Double-ended bus to ferry tourists at unique landmark WHAT do you do when you need to transport tourists back and forth to an attraction with limited space in which to turn around? Build a bus with two fronts of course. The tricky problem occurred with the building of a new bridge to ferry tourists to the legendary Mont SaintMichel in northern France. The tidal island, half a mile off the coast of Normandy, draws three million visitors every year who are keen to see the monastery and commune that lie within the UNESCOlisted World Heritage Site. With so many people visiting, and such limited space to turn a tourist shuttle bus, a clever solution was required to ease the sticky situation.

A Coventry company was part of the answer. The bus, which is built by Cataeno Bus in Portugal, is a Contrac product. Pailton GmbH supplies essential parts to Contrac partner Paul Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH for the unique tourist shuttle buses that have two fronts, enabling both forwards and backwards operation without the need to turn around. For this special project, Pailton supplied the sliders, bevel boxes and drag links.

Five of the buses have been purchased by Mont SaintMichel, all decked out in mahogany. Technical Director Kevin Humphrey said: “These special double-ended vehicles will be used by millions of visitors at this unique and interesting island. “Pailton prides itself on creating bespoke solutions for customers and here we supplied parts for what in itself is a bespoke solution. We are proud to be a part of the success story.”

engineering. Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted to welcome John Nollett onto the Chamber board. “Pailton Engineering is a great example of a company that has its roots in Coventry’s history of engineering excellence but is making that work in a 21st Century, global environment. “John’s and Pailton’s experience in trading globally can hopefully help to inspire others to do the same.”

PAILTON’S TROPHY CABINET CONTINUES TO SWELL IN RECENT AWARDS BONANZA Pailton has once again swept the board achieving recognition in a series of awards and receiving a number of accolades. With a world-wide reputation for the design and manufacture of steering systems, Pailton continues to enjoy considerable success. Its remarkable achievements have not only led to the company reaching the National Finals of the European Business Awards 2012/13, but also to them being named as a finalist in the Mail on Sunday’s Made in Britain Awards. Earlier this year the company won the Manufacturing and Engineering Award in the Midland’s Insider Awards and also was named Medium to Large Business of the Year in the Coventry Telegraph Business Awards.

A tribute to a ‘King among men’ who steered Pailton to global success Ralph Nollett, who has died aged 70 after a short illness, was the man who steered Pailton Engineering from a two-machine business in a Warwickshire village to a global concern with a £20 million turnover. He joined the small business which his father had set up in a bakehouse in the village of Pailton in 1969 and developed it into a world-beating designer and manufacturer of steering systems. He died at his home in Kenilworth on October 22 and the funeral was on November 1. He leaves a wife, Ronnie, six children and four grandchildren. To the outside world he was a remarkable entrepreneur and a true Coventrian; to the men and women who worked with him for decades he was an inspirational boss who won the respect of all who met him. He is remembered as honest, fair, driven, a “king among men” who always had time for people and who listened to their views. Son John Nollett, Managing Director of Pailton, said: “Dad was very driven, he knew what he wanted, but he was such a fair man, and was never the ‘big I am’.

“Quality and customer service were his top priorities, he would help people to the nth degree.” John Murton, IT Manager, who has worked at Pailton for 35 years, vividly remembers Ralph praising him after the two had had a “blazing row” earlier in the day over some parts which John had scrapped. He said: “After a blazing row between us I got on and rectified the parts needless to say the customer went away happy. “Later that day Ralph came to me patted me on the shoulder and thanked me for the effort I had put in to satisfy the customer, I will never forget that, he was a real gentleman. “He was driven, honest and fair, and regarded by the workforce with total respect. He was a king among men.” Production Manager Balvir Chana, who joined Pailton 40 years ago, remembers Ralph taking over some welding from him many years ago … only to run into the same difficulties. Balvir said: “We had such a laugh about it. He was friendly, respectful, a gentleman.”

Grev Ellaway, Production Director, said: “He was second to none. He had great respect from all. He was meticulous, kind and clever.” His presence also continued to be felt after he had retired as Lisa Smith who works in the Accounts Office recalls. “When I joined the company Ralph had not long retired from Pailton but was never too far away. In fact he actually joined in on my interview half way through and believe me I felt his presence there as the big boss of the company! “ Lisa has many fond memories of Ralph describing him as a great storyteller and a down to earth, generous and well lived man. Ralph’s kindness and modesty were evident even in moments of triumph. Internal Sales Manager Abby Hughes remembers going to the Coventry Telegraph Business Awards where Pailton scooped Manufacturing Business of the Year in 2011, before Pailton also won Business of the Year in the Birmingham Post Business Awards. Abby said: “Ralph was so proud of winning the award but he did not want to take any credit for this. He was inspirational, an achiever and a friend.” Ralph & John Nollett


The award for bushiest growth went to Gary Lofts. The favourite moustache award went to Mark Bailey and the award for poorest growth to Dale Cole.

Several of our male colleagues ditched their razors for a month as part of this year’s Movember campaign.

Between us we raised an a-Mo-zing £800 for Balls to Cancer with more and more money coming in even after the end of the campaign. Well done everyone who took part, and to all those who sponsored them. A sterling effort by all in aid of this fantastic cause!

As an added incentive, and in keeping with Movember’s fun theme, we organised internal awards for those taking part.

Mark Bailey, Gary Lofts & Dale Cole

PAILTON STEERS A NEW COURSE WITH DEVELOPMENT OF WIPER SYSTEMS Pailton Engineering has not only been working with Creation UK to develop a steering system for one of its specialist vehicles, but more recently has designed a wiper system for the company’s Zephyr Multi Role Vehicle programme. Creation is one of the UK’s leading independent vehicle design and engineering companies with a particular niche in defence and armoured vehicle design. Creation’s Zephyr MRV programme is a range of new radical design protected vehicle platforms that offer high survivability whilst being multipurpose thus providing total flexibility. The brief was originally to design the vehicle to a UK specification. This subsequently changed as Creation recognised an opportunity to market the vehicle on a global basis and asked Pailton to develop a steering system for a left hand drive vehicle. Over the years the two companies have forged a close workingrelationship, during the course of which Creation highlighted a number

of issues they were experiencing with their wiper system. Amid complaints of poor quality, technical issues and lack of support from their existing supplier Pailton recognised that there were a number of similarities between the company’s traditional product portfolio of bespoke steering systems and wiper systems and offered their help. “It was simply an opportunity not to be missed”, commented MD John Nollett “and one which we knew could offer real value.” He explained that one of the issues is that wiper systems in the main tend to be ‘off-the-shelf’ rather than a bespoke design. They are almost the Cinderella of the vehicle build process. John Nollett continued: “There are a number of synergies between the two products. Trying to fit an off the shelf design to a bespoke vehicle just doesn’t work whether it be a steering system or something as seemingly simple as a wiper system. “Furthermore, a number of the

components and manufacturing processes are similar to that of bespoke steering systems, and also the fact that windscreen wiper manufacturers tend to specialise in high volume - not low runs is our niche. “The production of wiper systems for specialist vehicles is therefore a natural progression for us and one in which Pailton has earmarked as being a significant opportunity for growth.” Creation UK’s Technical Director Robin Hall commented: “We needed assistance with the left-hand-drive conversion and this necessitated not just a new steering column but also a new wiper system. “When it became apparent that Pailton were considering moving in to the wiper system business it was obvious that they would be the ideal partner for the job. “Pailton has supplied and engineered many components and systems over the years for both our products and our customers’ products; and we have always been delighted with the quality and delivery.”

40 YEARS OF HAPPY MEMORIES Congratulations to our two longest-serving employees Balvir Chana and John Packer who have each marked their 40 years with Pailton. The company was just three years old when the pair joined us back in 1972. In today’s cut throat business environment there are few people who would describe their employer as a family, but that is exactly the tribute Production Manager Balvir gave as he celebrated his milestone. Balvir’s career at Pailton started at the age of 25 when he was employed as a machine setter / operator. “It was totally hands on and literally a case of getting your hands dirty and getting stuck in,” said Balvir. “When I first joined Pailton, everything was done manually. Parts were made on manual machines and

CNC machines were unheard of. Jobs too were planned manually. “There was no software in those days and little information so each stage of production carried out virtually by hand.” It is a far cry from the Pailton of 2013 which not only employs the latest technology and state of the art machinery, but has become a global force in the manufacture of steering systems. In his 40 years Balvir has also seen the workforce grow from a handful of employees to a 140-strong headcount. However despite Pailton’s success Balvir says that never once has the company lost sight of its roots and always recognises that its people are its biggest asset. Balvir describes Pailton as a family – a company which fosters loyalty. He

Balvir Chana & John Nollett

added: “In the early days it became like a second home. We had a lot of fun, BBQs, card games, regular social nights out and everyone had a story to tell. “Pailton has given me a great lifestyle, allowing me to provide for myself and my family. “It also has a great team spirit. The workforce is totally committed, hardworking and I have gained a lot of respect – leading by example certainly gets results.” John was 18 when he joined Pailton as a machinist. Over the years he has climbed the career ladder and is now a design engineer.

John Packer

John recalled: “When I started Pailton was a very small industrial unit on Harper Road, Stoke. There were four other full-time employees – Balvir, John Castle, Richard

Mather and Phil Beech and two part-timers Barry Vicary and Alf Lewis. “There were no CNC machines, no PCs, everything was done manually. “Being the youngest I occasionally made the tea and on Saturdays I picked up the batches from the batch bar in Gosford Street. When we finally employed a general labourer that job passed to him.” Over the years John too has built a successful career with us. The longterm relationship between Pailton and John has helped him raise a family with three children and pay off his mortgage. He marked his milestone with a holiday in Gambia. Balvir and John’s 40 years were commemorated with a presentation of an award and cheque.

APG GEARS UP FOR GROWTH New jobs and £1.6 million support from Scottish Enterprise! Anderson Precision Gearing is taking the next step in its resurgence by moving into new premises with ambitious plans to grow the company and double its workforce within three years. The move - which should be completed by next summer - will mark a new era in the company’s history and is being backed by Scottish Enterprise with a Regional Selective Assistance grant of £1.6 million over three years.

It is a business which has gone from strength to strength and has once again grown to become a thriving enterprise with a healthy order book, employing 43 people and expanding into new markets. Now the company is planning to take on another 54 people in the next three years. Most will be skilled engineers but APG also plans to take on more apprentices - the first three started in August - and is about to recruit for a senior management post.

Since acquiring APG late in 2010 the shareholders have invested more than £1 million in refurbishing and upgrading equipment in order to dramatically shorten lead times on orders which in turn have won APG more business. The investment will continue after the move to Bellshill with plans for additional machinery that will enable APG to manufacture even heavier parts.

APG MOVES TO NEW HOME IN BIG BLUE SHED The specialist manufacturer of heavy gears is leaving behind its historic roots to move just five miles away from the Motherwell factory into one of the most recognisable industrial premises in central Scotland. The new factory at the Big Blue Shed at Bellshill Industrial Estate, Lanarkshire, is more than three times larger than APG’s current premises and will allow the company to expand the product range it offers to customers. A consultant has been hired to ensure the transition from the Motherwell plant to the new factory runs smoothly. Work has already started and the first task is to sink pits for the largest machines.

Linda Hanna, company growth director at Scottish Enterprise said: “APG is a great example of how we can work with an ambitious Scottish company to accelerate its growth plans and help it secure access to growth finance through Regional Selective Assistance. “Scottish Enterprise has worked with the company since March this year through our account management approach and we look forward to supporting the company’s future growth plans, including the further development of its international business activities.”

Jim Henderson, Financial Controller of APG, said: “These are exciting times for APG and we are looking forward to growing the business and offering our customers a wider range of products which will in turn help to secure jobs in Scotland. “Without the support of Scottish Enterprise the move would not have been possible.”

Pailton Engineering Limited Phoenix House Holbrook Lane Coventry CV6 4AD UK Tel: +44 (0) 24 7668 0445 Fax: +44 (0) 24 7668 0446 Web: Email:

Anderson Precision Gearing Limited Flemington Industrial Park Motherwell ML1 2NT UK Tel: +44 (0)1698 260000 Fax: +44 (0)1698 252010 Email:

Ed Miliband Visits Pailton Engineering  

Ed Miliband Visits Pailton Engineering