Howarth Windows & Doors, Arborforest and The Dock, based in Hew Holland, North Lincolnshire (part of the Howarth Timber Group) may appear at first glance to be a typical builder’s merchant with its own manufacturing divisions but behind the scenes, there’s a lot more going on that you may expect.
The Howarth Timber Group website states that customers are at the heart of everything they do but having visited them for an update on all things Skills Pledge, we can most definitely confirm that their employees are the true heart of the business.
Mick Toner, Technical Manager and previously Factory Manager, contacted us via the newsletter recently to let us know about another wave of apprentices who had joined the business as well as some other projects they were working on. We were only too pleased to accept the invitation to visit the New Holland site to meet with Mick and Imogen Howarth, the project leader on a centre of excellence project that the company is working on.
Once on site, the first thing that struck us was the work the company does to train and support their staff. Shown into one of the two dedicated training rooms with a view over the factory floor, Mick, who started as a fork lift truck driver, shared information on the in–house training programmes delivered by a team of staff trainers. As Mick put it: “The only time you stop training is when you leave the company.”
With an impressive 450 people employed on site, many of them in manufacturing roles, it was interesting to see that the company is doing its bit to overcome the stereotypes. The Howarth Windows and Doors division boasts an even male:female workforce, with many females in factory / production roles.
For Howarth Timber Group, it’s not just their existing staff that is important. The company does a great deal of work to inform and inspire the future workforce. They have a longstanding relationship with North Lindsey College which includes offering workplace visits to students and providing materials to be used as part of the curriculum. This relationship also goes a step further with plans underway to establish a local Centre of Excellence in conjunction with the Wood Industry Training Forum. As Imogen explained: “Creating this facility would give young people coming through the chance to train on state of the art machines which are simply unaffordable for colleges. It’s particularly difficult for us to get staff qualified in woodworking machining so provision would be a great asset to us and to the Humber region.”
Addressing the recent national news coverage stating that many young people do not have the skills required for the world of work, Mick commented: “We know that there are still issues with this and unfortunately it’s something we see a little too often. That said, we do a lot of work in education with a view to finding those diamonds we know exist.”