Seventy-one-year-old radiographer Ian Morrison is one of nearly 50 new recruits to start work in 2022 at the rapidly growing Teesside company Paralloy Limited.
Since a management buy-out nearly three years ago, the business – which has sites in Billingham, Middlesbrough and Sheffield – has doubled its sales to more than £60m and increased its workforce by nearly 50% to reach 400.
Paralloy manufactures specialist high nickel alloy and stainless steels for numerous companies including Siemens, Rolls Royce, Exxon, Sabic and GE. Raw material melted at its three foundries in Billingham is manufactured into completed products such as precision machined tubes, components, sub-assemblies and fully welded fabrications which are dispatched from its new plant at TeesAMP in Middlesbrough and Sheffield. Paralloy exports 95% of what it makes to 70 overseas markets.
As well as recruiting experienced staff like Ian, who started work when he was 15, Paralloy has also found its own solution to overcome a skills shortage. The foundry manager, for example, is a former restaurant owner and a 58-year-old trainee machinist worked as a doorman for 30 years.
“It’s all about having the right attitude and a willingness to learn,” said the company’s chief executive Robert McGowan.
Danny Porter, who is 40 and from Billingham, had been an HGV driver for 12 years before joining Paralloy as an auxiliary in early March. “Any change of job was just a change of scenery, nothing else. There were no prospects unless you went into the office and that wasn’t really for me,” he said.
He has already acquired new skills and is far more optimistic about his future: “I’ve always been willing to work hard and hopefully that will get me to where I want to be. You only get out of life what you put into it.”
A more conventional career path has been followed by Paralloy’s HR adviser, who also stared working for Paralloy in March. Teesside University graduate Jess Flanders, who is 26 and lives in Middlesbrough, joined the company after working in recruitment and then as a global HR administrator for Tracerco in Billingham. “I was really looking forward to the new challenge and the variety of the role, and I haven’t been disappointed. I knew this business would give me the opportunity to develop into the HR professional that I want to be,” said Jess who has also completed a high-level professional qualification during her time with Paralloy.
Ian Morrison’s career began 30 years before Jess was born. He spent more than three decades working abroad for inspection companies or inspection departments of global oil and gas companies. His job took him to the Middle East, North Africa, Central America and Europe. He was in Iran during the revolution, Yemen when civil war broke out and East Germany when the Berlin Wall came down.
By 2009, when Ian was working in Libya, he decided to come home to Middlesbrough. “I didn’t really see my kids grow up and I didn’t want the same thing to happen with my grand-children,” he said.
But his job – although based just 10 miles from home – still required Ian to travel all around the UK.
“I was still climbing all over things. I was having to do the same things as kids 30 years younger than me and that’s why I wanted a change,” he said.
Ian said his work keeps him fit and his few concessions to age are the more regular hours at Paralloy, no more travel or working outdoors. However, he does not anticipate retiring soon and has quickly found that his new employer shares his insistence on quality and “doing things the right way”.
When he finally does retire Ian intends to remain active: “You’ve got to put as much effort into retirement as when you’re working and that costs money,” and he added: “I want to travel to places I want to visit, not the places I was sent to for my job.”
Retirement is also on the mind of another new recruit – 39-year-old lathe operator Michael Price. Although new to Paralloy he already wants to spend the rest of his working life with the company. “I have a hunger for constant learning and that’s what I’m getting here. I want to work my way up and hopefully retire from here. I’ve been welcomed with open arms. They’re really lovely people,” he said.
Chief Executive Robert McGowan said: “Our rapid growth and the highly competitive job market on Teesside has meant that for some roles we’ve had to take a different approach to recruitment, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we’ve settled for second best. It’s exactly the opposite. Our future is bright and as we continue our growth story we are keen to find new ways of adding high quality people to our teams from all walks of life”.