IT IS telling that pupils from Spalding’s secondary schools are being invited to join the celebrations for Guttridge’s 50th anniversary this year.
Quite simply, it’s because young people with an interest in engineering are the future of the engineering and manufacturing business, which has plans to double in size over the next four years.
As a result, it is stepping up its links with local schools, as well as growing an association with Boston College and continuing its connections with universities such as Leicester and Loughborough, whose students have been offered placements that have often led to job offers.
Guttridge Ltd is a specialist manufacturers of conveyors and elevators and other ancillary equipment used in a wide range of sectors from grain handling to chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Its 50th anniversary is a moment to look back to 1962 when it was formed by David Guttridge, father of the current chairman Peter, and was making mobile animal feed mills. In the 1970s it started manufacturing conveyors and elevators.
However, an anniversary such as this is also a time to look forward, to the future of the business, and Peter explains that he stepped aside from the position of managing director in order to bring in Noz Talukdar, who comes from a much bigger business background and has a lot of experience.
“Noz joined us in October 2010 and since then there has been a real emphasis on growing the company,” explains Peter.
Noz adds: “Our intention is to double the business in the next four years. We have a solid foundation and a great heritage and my job is to take it to the next generation of business, building on the really good base Guttridge already has.
“We have recruited a fair number of new people into the business but if we are going to double the business we’ll need good, skilled, capable people to join the company.”
Noz believes there are obstacles to attracting people to the area: the fact that there is a shortage of other local engineering and manufacturing companies, which limits opportunities for movement locally for people coming into the area, and the fact that, as Noz puts it: “I don’t think Lincolnshire promotes itself that well. We have fabulous schools and links to great cities.”
Hence the importance of working closely with local schools and other educational establishments and talking to people who have an interest in that sector.
The company offers one or two apprenticeships a year, so there is the chance for young people to start at the ground level, but as a relatively small company Guttridge Ltd can offer youngsters a wide range of experience and progression routes in areas such as design engineering, skilled welding, machine operating, sales and marketing and other office-based roles.
There are special events planned for this anniversary year, with an exhibition day in June for customers, suppliers and employees’ families as well as local secondary school pupils.
There will be celebrations at various exhibitions the company attends through the year and a special celebration dinner dance for employees in November.
The 80 staff are clearly key to the company and there is a culture of long service – the longest serving employee is fabricator welder Paul Cummins at 43 years.
Peter says: “I like to think we are still a family business. We are very approachable. I talk to everybody and everyone talks to me, and Noz has embraced that culture.”
However, Peter admits there was one memorable occasion when he failed to recognise former straw plant operater Colin Marshall – because he had his teeth in!
Peter acknowledges: “We have had our ups and downs, like any other business, but we have done well over the years and we have expanded quite dramatically from where we were 25 years ago on the old Hawthorn Bank site.”
Guttridge Ltd has been at its Wardentree Lane site at Pinchbeck for 12 years, weathering the recession well and achieving the best sales on record last year, 40 per cent of which were in exports.
Peter adds: “Everbody likes to be part of a business that celebrates an anniversary like 50 years and in today’s climate it’s a pretty good achievement.”