Sheffield heavy engineering specialist DavyMarkham is stepping up its ambitions in the nuclear and defence sectors with the appointment of a leading figure in the industry.
John Cheek, with 35 years experience, has joined the company as Nuclear and Defence Director.
He is leading efforts to secure and deliver contracts in the UK and overseas in the growing market linked to the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants – a market worth billions of pounds a year.
DavyMarkham, whose history in Sheffield can be traced back 186 years, has a longstanding and international reputation in heavy and complex engineering, notably in the tunnel boring, hydro, steel and bridge building sectors.
While new contracts continue to be sought in these areas, it will be alongside the big push for nuclear and defence contracts.
Mr Cheek said he wanted to see the company develop its expertise beyond the traditional product-orientated approach.
“We don’t want to be making widgets, we want to be at the top end of the technological spectrum.
“Nuclear and defence are very important for the future, and we want to be part of the full cycle, supporting the new build phase, the operational phase and the decommissioning phase.
“The brand of Sheffield coupled with the history of DavyMarkham makes a compelling sales pitch.”
At the same time, Mr Cheek emphasised the importance of the company maintaining its interest and involvement in big infrastructure projects such High Speed Rail 2 and tunnel boring and tidal turbine projects, again at the technological high end.
“DavyMarkham has huge potential,” he said. “We have one of the few big machine shops left in Britain, and there is a great opportunity to bring DavyMarkham to the fore of manufacturing in terms of the worldwide market.
Mr Cheek’s career has involved spending 14 years on advance gas cooled reactor new build and operations and 21 years in nuclear power plant decommissioning.
He joins the Sheffield firm after ten years as managing director of Siempelkamp Nuclear Technology UK Ltd, where he turned in a profit every year. It is being wound down as a result of a change in business direction by the German owners.
Previously he was managing director for MOTA Europe Ltd, which specialised in decommissioning nuclear reactors.
He was attracted to the Sheffield post by the scale of the existing factory, the expertise of the workforce and “the right leadership at the top to deliver the vision”.
He has worked with DavyMarkham chief executive officer Bill Clark for some years.
Mr Cheek has been appointed as the traditional engineering firm seeks to update its portfolio and image, underlining its capacity for designing, machining, assembling, installing and commissioning bespoke engineering components up to 350 tonnes across a range of sectors.
Nuclear and defence are an integral part of the strategy.
Already DavyMarkham has manufactured large components and systems for customers including Sellafield, the Advanced Weapons Establishment, Rolls-Royce and Magnox.
Products include casks and containers for intermediate and high-level waste. It continues, for example, to work with Magnox on producing retrieval equipment and concrete boxes to allow the safe disposal of nuclear waste.
The company is tapping into local expertise as a member of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which is based at Catcliffe, Rotherham, and brings together academic and industrial partners from across the civil nuclear manufacturing supply chain.
NAMRC initiatives such as Fit For Nuclear (F4N) help firms to improve their competitiveness so they can become become world-class players in the nuclear build programme.
An exciting new high-tech era is dawning for the business based in Prince of Wales Road, Darnall.
“We are pushing the curve through to the higher end of the technological spectrum in a highly regulated market,” said Mr Clark.
“John’s appointment will trickle through the business and make it more successful, bringing DavyMarkham back to the forefront of manufacturing.”