The first Members Meeting of 2016 was held at Hickstead Hotel on Tuesday, where members gathered for breakfast at 8 o’clock. It was a good turnout on a mild winter morning, with around 42 people showing up to hear Peter Lamb explaing what goes on at Edwards Vacuum, a long time BHBPA Member.
After half an hour of refreshments and networking, Giles Paul welcomed us to the hotel, before Adam Rowland and Annette Smith from Woodlands Meed College made their brief appeal. They wanted placements in the workplace for their Special Needs students. The response to their request seemed to be very positive. I know that Bluelite Graphics are helping out already and it seems that at least one other company is trying to find a placement too.
Peter Lamb has been with Edwards for 19 years. He is now a Senior Manager, Scientific Pump Technology who is also in charge of the facilities at Burgess Hill. Their site at Crawley is soon to close, which means bringing another 80 staff to Burgess Hill to work at the site whih is now their Global Technology Centre.
He spoke with great enthusiasm for the company which is a market leader in vacuum and abatement products. The company has been around a very long time, and was still relatively small when BOC bought it in 1968. In 2007 Edwards left BOC, having established the new site in Burgess Hill in 1996 and doubled the size of it in 2002. Soon it will be the UK headquarters of this global business, now owned by a Swedish giant (only 10% is Edwards-owned now). The company turns over £1bn per year and has bases in many countries of the world including the Czech Republic, where all the manufacturing is done. The Burgess Hill site is the centre of Research and Development. They also have offices in Japan, South Korea, China, and the USA, as well as several small ones in the UK at Clevedon, Bristol and Eastbourne.
Along with their innovative manufacturing base, servicing ranks as 40% of their turnover, as they maintain the engineered equipment they have manufactured and installed. Two years ago Edwards won the Queen’s Award for industry, and well deserved it was too. Edwards is a manufacturing company of which we should justly be proud.
Peter answered a number of questions and stayed around for a while afterwards to speak to people. Interestingly one of his problems here is finding staff who are sufficiently qualified in engineering jobs. Our thanks go to him and the other speakers and also of course to the Hotel staff for their generous support.