Steel Life – by Alan James

In the beginning…

As part of the company’s 20th year in business celebrations MD Alan James is sharing some tales from over the years to give people an insight into his background and how the firm has developed.

“I started my engineering life by joining local company William Reid on January 4 1971.  I was 17-years-old and at the time the firm was a farming machinery sales company and most of the work was related to farm machinery sales and repairs. They had a tractor workshop, implement (baler) shop, millwrights shop, electricians small workshop and a large parts store.

Farm buildings

“At the time of me joining WR, they had just started making farm buildings and the first was for a Mr John Ferguson at Monaughty Farm at Alves (a relative of Grant). WR had to supply a portal framed cattle court building and a truss type silage pit building which required lots of plates all pre-drilled and bolted to angle irons to form steel trusses.

“I spent the first six months of my apprenticeship drilling holes for farm buildings. Soon I graduated onto a special squad of four under the watchful eye of Dod Simmers (Simmers of Keith) to fabricate farm and other steel buildings.  At that time all the welding units were “stick” and there was only one MIG welding unit in the whole of WR.

“In August 1971, I went with the other WR apprentices to the Elgin Technical College (formerly Elgin Academy) one day a week where, although we were fabricating and welding at work for four days a week, it was a machining craft course that we were undertaking at college.  I really enjoyed the lathe and milling work.”

Three years in

“In my third year at WR I was asked to go part time into the WR drawing office to help draw up farm buildings – steel and cladding.  My boss at that time was Jim Hunter, (dad of Myles Hunter) who was manager of the WR Buildings Dept. During these first three years I learned to be accurate, work at a good pace (Dod Simmers saw to that) and never say no, even to drilling holes for six months!”

To be continued…


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