Despite huge growth and change at Express Engineering, the company’s commitment to apprenticeships has remained resolute. Eleven new apprentices have joined the oil and gas division of the operation in Gateshead where a sixth factory was recently opened on the Team Valley.
The new starters include apprentice engineer Nicolas Grimshaw, 19, from Gateshead, who was recently selected as Rolls Royce apprentice of the year 2014 and Express’ first commercial apprentice – Elliott Brown, 18, from Newcastle. Evan Crawford from Washington and James Kilburn from Sunderland, both 17, are undertaking apprenticeships in welding and fitting respectively and Daniel Routledge, 18, from Chester-le-Street and Andrew Bull, 19, from Newcastle, have started their apprenticeships in production engineering and scheduling.
Andrew Kay, 20, from Seaton Delaval, James Miller, 16, from Washington, Ryan Amer, 19, from Easington lane, Danny Gatens, 18, from Jarrow and John Surrey, 23, from Gateshead, will all undertake engineering apprenticeships.
Nicolas Grimshaw said: “I used to drive past Express Engineering every day on my way to college, but I never thought I’d actually end up working here. It has been fantastic. Everyone is helpful and supportive and I’m learning so much. Being chosen as apprentice of the year out of 120 other trainees was a great honour but an even bigger prize has been securing my apprenticeship here at Express. I couldn’t be happier.”
Elliott Brown added: “Express is putting me through my HNC for which I study at Tyne Met College one day a week. I’m also completing my three month Performance Engineering Operations qualification at Rolls Royce at present, before I move over to the Team Valley to spend a year on the factory floor at Express to provide me with an overview of how everything works.
“Once I have a handle on all of this, the commercial side of my apprenticeship will start in earnest and I’ll be trained in stock ordering, job costings and timescales as well as customer and supplier management, with a view to begin managing my own customer accounts. It is a great opportunity and I’m delighted to be involved with a company that I know will support me well throughout my training.”
An additional two Engineering apprentices – Ryan Harris and Callum Russell, both 18 – have also started work at Express’ Aerospace facility in Stokesley – taking the number of new training opportunities created across the group since the start of 2014 to 13.
Said Express Group Chief Executive, Nigel Davison: “We are delighted to be able to offer so many young people the chance to learn new skills in a business which has a busy and bright future.
The apprentices join at a time when Express is investing almost £7 million in further expansion which is creating 30 new jobs at the Gateshead sites. It now employs almost 500 people at its Team Valley based oil and gas business, the Stokesley Aerospace and Industrial Product divisions in North Yorkshire and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where it owns and operates Petrotec.
Express Engineering has already been singled out as ‘one to watch’ in a league table of the country’s fastest growing firms. It is the North East’s only representative on a 10 strong list of operations tipped to break into the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 – the UK’s top 100 private businesses demonstrating the most rapid expansion.
A 58% increase in exports over the past two years saw the business climb to 52nd in the International Track 200 table whilst a 250% growth in turnover over the same period (now at £37 million) and the subsequent increase in profit, saw Express rocket to eighth place in the Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 league table.
This puts the company ahead of well-known national brands such as Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, biscuit manufacturer Tunnocks and Pret A Manger.