Take a closer look at four of our longest serving employees, including our Managing Director Craig James.
To mark our 100th anniversary we also celebrated the careers of four Hillfoot people who have been with us for a significant part of our journey, including Craig James whose own story from Sales Trainee through to MD reflects how Hillfoot is a company that is as passionate about it people, and their development, as it is about providing world class products and outstanding service to its customers. In this article we also talk to Shawn Wigfield, Mark Bailey and Colin Macfarlan.
Craig James, Managing Director
Craig joined Hillfoot in May 1994 as a sales trainee. This was the initial job that he applied for and, since then, he has seen and experienced nearly every aspect of the company by working his way through 19 different roles before being appointed Managing Director.
We asked Craig what it was that attracted him to Hillfoot, and he was very clear with his answer - ethics and values.
“I really liked what Hillfoot stood for as a company, particularly given the industry and marketplace that it operates in. These are values which are as important to me now as they were on day 1, and I hope our employees, suppliers and customers can see how we practice them through our day to day work.”
As MD, Craig is eager to ensure that Hillfoot is driven by its greatest single asset, its people.
“One of the key reasons I like working at Hillfoot is the people that I work with. We have a great team of dedicated people and, as much as it is a business, it’s also a family of people committed to delivering the best products and the best service to our customers. This is why we continue to invest in the development of our staff at every level.”
So, what are the key challenges of Craig’s job, and what does he see is his primary objective?
“My job is to ensure that Hillfoot remains in business for at least another century. It’s as simple as that. As for the challenges, there’s many but the two key ones that we’re constantly up against are turbulent markets and governments."
"Whatever the challenges, we’re focused on giving our customers the very best service, based on our technical expertise, our experience and a collaborative approach to understanding exactly what they need.”
Shawn Wigfield, Senior Sawer
“I joined Hillfoot in 1997, initially working in the yard but progressed and held roles of Team Leader and Shift Manager. No two days are ever the same, and the focus of my current job is to ensure that orders are correct and that the steel is cut to the correct dimensions.
New band saws, cranes and sideloaders are some of the key changes in my part of the company, which has helped significantly in the way we process orders. Also, the expansion of the business with bigger premises means that we can stock hold steel for the wider industry.
Since I’ve been working at Hillfoot the actual UK steel industry has contracted by around 50%.
"The company has maintained its market lead, and achieved its landmark 100 years in business by continuing to invest, both in the business itself and by looking after its people and their personal development.”
“Shawn has made a fantastic contribution to Hillfoot during his many long years of service, a period in which the business has undergone significant transformation and change. He’s a constant reminder that all our people are our biggest asset.” Craig James.
Mark Bailey, Internal Sales
“I’ve been in a number of roles during my time at Hillfoot, and am now back where I started in Internal Sales, where the focus of my work is to build strong relationships with my customers and provide a great service for their continued supply of carbon and alloy steel bar. Prior to this role I’ve worked as a Sales Supervisor, Sales Office Manager and Buyer.
It’s interesting to see how the quality of steel has improved over the years which, along with our adoption of computer technology and the strong bonds we build with our customers, is one of the key reasons why Hillfoot has achieved its first century in business.
I initially joined Hillfoot after seeing the role of Internal Sales advertised through an agency. I was attracted to the company because I liked the idea of working for a privately owned company, and one which gave its people the opportunity to progress.
"Hillfoot remains a very forward thinking company and values its people as much as its suppliers and clients."
There’s a big focus on quality of both products and services, and it's constantly looking at ways to stay ahead of the competition.“
“We’re hugely grateful for Mark’s continued hard work and commitment to Hillfoot in his various roles, and particularly the way he has helped maintain the quality of our products and the service we deliver to our customers. Like all our people, he’s an invaluable asset to our growing business.” Barry Akers, Commercial Director
Colin Macfarlan, Team Leader
“I first started working for Hillfoot back in 1996 and was attracted to working for the company not just because it was a local business, but because it was well-established.
My first role was as a Band Saw operator, although I have shown an active interest in other operational roles so that I could progress to become a multi-skilled Team Leader.
Leading a team means I play a key role inspiring people to achieve the high standards that we’re renowned for. On a daily basis I work with both office and shop floor staff to ensure the quality of our steel products meets the expectations of our customers.
"Hillfoot is constantly investing in the business and its people, and we now have a much more modern working environment and open working culture."
Investment in expansion, such as the old bus station, new management and modern machinery has ensured that we retain our leading position in what remains a highly competitive industry.
And because we place a high value on the quality of our products, and the services we provide to our customers, my job is to constantly look at ways of improving our processes. What makes this aspect of my job easier is the great camaraderie between Hillfoot people, and the way in which we all work together as a team.”
“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of people like Colin we’ve been able to maintain our high standards of product quality in a market that remains extremely competitive. Like all our staff, he’s an invaluable asset to our company.” Dean Smedley, Operations Manager.