Investing in Apprentices and Boosting Future Growth


Apprentices, Upskilling and Graduate Training form a key part of Grayton's 10 year plan.

Apprentices in workshop

At the forefront of engineering technology, Grayton Ltd was established in 1992 and worked traditionally in the markets of Steel & Cement. In recent years, through client demand, the company has now grown into the sectors of Oil & Gas, Chemicals, Power and Food. 

Grayton has offices and workshops in Barton Upon Humber and 100 employees located throughout the UK to cover geographical demand. In 2018, Grayton bought Richard James Engineering Ltd (an engineering design company) which is now based within the Head Office building and has 6 full time Design Engineers working in 3D CAD, designing bespoke engineering solutions for various clients. 

In 2020, despite the worldwide pandemic, Grayton invested once again in its people. Following enrolment on a 10-year plan in 2017 investing in apprentices and youth training, the company’s first intake of apprentices have ‘graduated’ with one going on to a degree course at Lincoln University. A further 3 apprentices were enrolled in September and now the company is proud to have 9 within the Apprentice Training programme.  Grayton has also recently taken on a mechanical fitter apprentice, who will be undertaking his first year at the CATCH centre in Immingham. 

The company’s experienced semi-skilled employees are valued throughout its client base and, with their help, a programme of ‘up-skilling’ has started which is currently assessing 6 of Grayton’s semi-skilled workforce to be on track for full tradesman status during 2021 – a record the business is proud of. 

Peter O’Sullivan, Operations Director said: “These up-skillers have played a key part in Grayton’s success and it is right that the company should invest in their future which in turn makes Grayton continually improve in our journey in being the business that ‘Supports the Companies that Build Britain’.”

In 2020 Carl Meale (a previous Grayton Apprentice) was appointed Engineering Director, and Richard Marshall, MD, told us: “Carl joining the Board of Directors significantly strengthens what the company has to offer to our existing clients and continues to be part of the strategy of succession planning throughout the business. 

“Engineering services was seen as an ‘out-of-date’ industry sector which has suffered badly from lack of investment during the past 20 years. As a consequence, the industry will have severe problems in the next 20 years as the very experienced aging workforce are retiring and this vast knowledge bank will disappear across many vital areas. Carl is working with the company’s supervisors and technicians to ensure this knowledge bank is passed from senior craftsmen to apprentices.”  

Mechanically, Grayton is well established within the heavy rotating equipment industry such as kilns and dryers, with expertise in installation of girth gears, full drive systems, support rollers and fans. The company also offers fabrication and installation of pipework systems, from small bore to large 1.3m diameter gas mains, structural steelwork, from small platforms to full sized structures, with the capability of design in-house. 

Local and national success for Grayton is put down to the company’s client care and vast knowledge of industrial equipment. Grayton has been servicing local companies for 30 years and some of Grayton’s supervisors have been with the company throughout that time.

Carl Meale, Engineering Director added “Whilst our clients may be experiencing technical difficulties for the first time, our engineers will have dealt with the problem or similar problems before and often on that same plant! Grayton’s philosophy is to provide employment throughout the year to employees rather than the traditional contractor model which suits employees and clients alike providing stability of employment, but also access to key individuals and support in case of unexpected emergencies.”

“We are particularly proud of all of our achievements over the last 6 months, two in particular stand out. Rapid response to a client’s breakdown on a kiln drive system down in South Wales. This started with a phone call on Saturday evening, with a fully skilled workforce along with all plant and equipment ready to start work for 0800 on the Monday morning. With the expertise we have, we were safely able to get the client’s kiln repaired and back online, ensuring a quality service was carried out.”

“In more recent times, a respected client put his faith and trust in us to undertake all of their major shutdown critical path tasks, including the installation of four new fans, cooling overhaul, coal mill overhaul, raw mill overhaul, installation of RJE designed kiln doors along with further structural repairs. This came with its own challenges when the client moved the shutdown back by three weeks, but once again we were able to be flexible and adapt to the client’s needs to deliver this large-scale project.” 

Technical Director Richard Southee, who is an experienced design engineer and carries a wealth of experience across all sectors of the industry is delighted with progress made to date: “The merger between Grayton and RJE in 2018 was another significant step forward for the business, creating a one stop solution for clients’ requirements, taking small, medium, and large projects from design through to build stage. The synergies between the two sides of the organisation are evident and the expansion of the design team from originally 1 to now 6 full time design engineers to meet customer requirements. It was inevitable that merging with Grayton was always the right thing to do for continued success and growth, we have created an excellent opportunity to prosper creating more jobs across our business with a sustainable outcome”.

Despite the pandemic, Grayton has continued to thrive. Whilst other engineering companies have taken the opportunity of taking a break and contemplating the uncertainty of COVID-19, the realities of “The Companies that Build Britain” is that the demand for their products soon picked up to unprecedented levels – whether this was pharmaceutical products or cement for the booming DIY sector. 

Grayton found itself needed from Dunbar, Scotland to Manchester and even Holland! The workforce throughout the company adopted new working procedures (COVID safe) and excelled at adapting to changing circumstances. 

Richard Marshall added: “We were even ringing around asking guest houses to open specifically to accommodate our ‘work bubbles’ – not a phrase that was on our lips only 12 months ago! Our clients needed our services and welcomed our flexibility and ingenuity whilst they too were finding the new rules and work practices challenging. As a result, our business has grown with experience and knowledge.”

Recently, Grayton invested in laser alignment equipment to further boost its mechanical capabilities which leads to improved reliability for clients and allows for expansion into different mechanical equipment overhauls. 

The company has also invested in an IDM tool kit and kiln axis alignment systems (alignment equipment to carry out surveys on large rotating equipment without the need to stop production) to strengthen its abilities to increase services within the existing client base and expand to new markets. 

As part of the future strategy, the company plans to invest within Q2 of 2021 to take advantage of the 130% tax reliefs now available. Super-deduction allows companies to deduct 130% of the cost of any qualifying investment from their taxable profits. This will enable Grayton to provide an improved service, offering significant benefits to the company’s expanding client base.

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