A products design engineer has become the first and only employee to have completed 50 years with materials handling brand Yale.
Dave Williams, from Troon, Scotland, is now set to down his tools bringing to an end his half century of employment as he retires from a career spanning various roles and duties at NACCO Materials Handling Group which designs and manufactures Yale forklifts.
Dave, 65, joined what was then known as Yale and Towne in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, on the 9th August 1965, starting his journey on the company’s craft apprentice scheme aged just 15.
The scheme, which initially sparked Dave’s interest in materials handling, gave him the platform to practice his skills in a working environment.
Dave said: “It was quite a coincidence, as I didn’t actively seek out Yale; a friend and I walked past their base in Wednesfield, seeing a sign for an apprentice scheme in the window, and that was where my career began.
“I didn’t think for a minute I would be there my entire working life – but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
After completing his apprenticeship, Dave took up a position within the engineering department, then moving on to design which was, and still is, where he specialises.
Dave also played a key role in the movement of the Yale plant from Wednesfield to Irvine, Scotland. This emotional, and at times difficult job, proved to be one of the most challenging stages of his career.
“It was quite devastating when we were initially told that the Wednesfield factory had to close. I was very lucky really as I got offered a position in engineering design in Irvine if I wanted it.
“After some consideration and discussion with my wife we decided to take it up and I moved up to Irvine on my own for six months to evaluate both the country and the working conditions.
“Luckily everything worked out and after selling our house in England my wife and daughter joined me in Scotland where we purchased a new home.”
Over his 50 years of dedicated service working on Yale products there hasn’t just been a change of plant base, with a wealth of technological evolvement proving challenging for Dave’s role in the design sector. Though, he admits that his passion for the industry allowed him to take new challenges in his stride.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist really – I will work on a job until it’s finished and complete it to the best of my ability. I have to admit though, going from not knowing how to use a computer, to having to rely on one on a daily basis was daunting.
“Like most things, once someone has taught you and you practice it, you tend not to forget. My work was always so variable too, as you can imagine with designing fork lift trucks, there are so many different parts and each day is completely different to the next. Even into my final years I was still doing things I’d never done before.”
Despite loving his work so dearly, and being a dedicated professional for 50 years, Dave has no regrets about his retirement, with spending quality time amongst his family and friends being at the heart of his decision.
“The company has treated me well and fairly, though now I feel it’s just the right time for me. I will sorely miss it, though at this stage in my life I just want to relax. I have lots to keep me busy - I love to play golf, I plan to travel as much as possible and I have even been generously gifted a bicycle as a leaving present from my colleagues!
“I’m also looking forward to being at home with my wife, Maureen, who retired two years ago – it’ll be nice to spend some quality time with her and enjoy our retirement together.”
Line manager and senior product engineer, Harry Kirkwood, said Dave will be sorely missed, but after such a long and loyal career, he deserves his retirement: “The likes of Dave Williams don’t come around too often, with a 50 year career standing testament to his dedication, hard work and passion for the industry.
“It’s quite remarkable in this day and age to have someone clocking up such an impressive period with the same employer; it’s certainly unique within our organisation and I am sure it’s quite unlikely we’ll see anyone else achieve this again in the future.
“Personally it will be quite strange without Dave here every day. I have worked with him for a long time, developing our skills together in this specialised field and a large part of that success is down to his attention to detail and enthusiastic drive for results. I wish Dave, Maureen and the family the very best as he starts this new chapter of his life.”