An Econ Engineering employee has celebrated 21 years of ‘welded-bliss’ at the firm famed for manufacturing gritters and snow ploughs.
Former Royal Engineers Warrant Officer Kevin Steel, who joined the Ripon-based company in 2000, was presented with an engraved watch by director Jonathan Lupton in recognition of his long service.
Following a 22-year career in the army, Kevin began working for a local dairy company before a vacancy at Econ Engineering caught his eye.
Econ Engineering makes more than 85 per cent of the UK’s winter road maintenance vehicles, and has recently opened two satellite engineering bases in Alloa, Scotland, and in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. It is currently constructing a new base at Sowerby, near Thirsk, for its 900-strong hire fleet.
Whilst working on the gritter production line, Kevin applied for a job as a welder. However, on the occasion he was unsuccessful because he didn’t have the relevant experience.
Undaunted, Kevin put himself through night school and successfully completed two certified welding courses, which then secured him a position within the welding team.
Now, 19 years later, he is in charge of 24 welders, ensuring the highest standards of work are maintained at all times.
Kevin said: “Ripon was my last army posting, and as I come from Sheffield and my wife from the North East, we decided to stay here.
“My first job outside the army was as a driver for a local dairy, which I did for 18 months. I then saw Econ were looking for staff and was taken on.
“Whilst it’s a challenging job, I’ve enjoyed my years at Econ and work with a great team. When I first applied for the welding job and didn’t get it, I went to college and completed two City & Guilds welding courses. I then applied again and got it.”
Kevin is also a first aider and when he championed the business housing a defibrillator, little did he know that he would be its first beneficiary!
One day, instead of being on holiday, Kevin came into work, and during his shift suffered a heart attack. Thanks to quick-thinking colleagues, they used the machine which saved his life.
Econ Engineering’s Operations Director, Jonathan Lupton, said: “It was my pleasure presenting Kevin with his long service reward, and he’s the third Econ employee this year to have clocked up 21 years with the company.
“Kevin is highly regarded within the business and is a superb team leader. And putting himself through night school so he could become a welder is a testament to his character.”