Spotlight on... Steve Waldie, Toolroom Manager
Spotlight on… Steve Waldie, Toolroom Manager
Experienced Toolroom Manager, Steve Waldie provides an insight into his role here at Wilks.
Tell us about your background. What did you do before joining the Wilks team? My background is in toolmaking; I completed a toolmaking apprenticeship when I left school before completing my HNC in Mechanical Engineering. This led me onto a role in plastic extrusion where I worked for ten years before joining Wilks. My wife Donna spotted the job advert, and we both agreed it looked like it had been written specifically for me. I checked out the Wilks website and saw they worked in the marine sector, an area I hadn’t worked in before and was excited to try.
How long have you worked here? Just over nine years.
Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Yes, I have always wanted to be a Toolroom Manager, and I am very proud to have achieved my goal.
Tell us about a typical day – what does your job involve? First and foremost, I am a toolmaker, so I start my day on CAD designing tools for new projects. I then prepare die plates for wire eroding. I work alongside toolmaker, Daniel Marlow, and together, we trial new design ideas and techniques to ensure we can offer customers the very latest products.
What do you enjoy most about your job? Product development is the part of my role that I enjoy the most; it’s great to start with an idea and see it through to a physical product. Each product developed has unique challenges to overcome; luckily, I enjoy a challenge!
Another part of the job I enjoy is seeing Daniel progress. Daniel joined Wilks as an apprentice toolmaker and has recently completed his HNC in Mechanical Engineering with an overall distinction grade.
What would you say your biggest achievement at Wilks has been so far? One of my most significant achievements has been creating the die plates to produce our four plank Dek-King synthetic teak. These required a lot of time and attention as they had to be dimensionally critical to allow an even flow of PVC in the production process, the hard work paid off as the final product dramatically reduced fabrication time, something that proved popular with our distribution network.
I also worked on the development of BUMP! our easy to fit D fender. For BUMP! we developed a profile that could be easily rolled onto a track, securing in place with no front fastenings. Don’t be fooled; its easy installation doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deliver in impact resistance, BUMP! can also handle curves and an 80mm radius. The success of BUMP! led onto us expanding the colour range and last year we debuted a traditional wood effect at METS.
How can you see your role developing in the future? My role at Wilks continues to develop, even more so now that we are part of Flexiteek. Together we are working on new products, and I visited their fabrication centre in Sweden last year.
What has been the weirdest thing you’ve had to do – or your strangest moment? Here in the toolroom, we have a reputation of being able to fix things. Therefore, we often get broken glasses, watches and jewellery to repair. We need to put up a sign saying, “The impossible we do straight away, but miracles take a bit longer!”.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do a similar role? Toolmaking is a great career choice for anyone that likes making things; my advice would be to work hard in school and then look for an apprenticeship with a company that has the time and expertise to train you.
What do you do in your spare time? I enjoy canoeing and keeping fit; in 2018 I even took up ballroom dancing with Donna.