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Newbury-based Progressive Technology has a growing academy for apprentices - #nationalapprenticeshipweek

Company expanding further following period of rapid growth with engineering opportunities

A NEWBURY company is looking to expand again following a period of exponential growth.

Progressive Technology, which is based in Hambridge Lane, is already making a name for itself as the leading supplier of components to the Formula One industry.

As well as motorsport, the company also has a number of clients in the aerospace and defence sectors. The firm currently occupies 52,000 sq ft of manufacturing space, but is looking to again expand its operations after trebling its turnover in the last five years.

Operations manager Steve Shadwell is a member of the management team which is responsible for ensuring that things run smoothly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said: “The rate of growth over the last seven years has been phenomenal. When we started out we had 30 staff and nobody had really heard of us. It was like, Progressive who?

“Now we employ 200 people and we are one of the biggest and most respected names in the industry.”

Mr Shadwell attributes that success to “producing complicated work to extremely high standards, in very short timeframes, across the many sectors in which we work”.

Continued growth is driven by the company’s highly-skilled workforce, who operate state-of-the-art machinery with shifts running 24/7 for 365 days of the year.

A full 24-hour shift pattern allows rapid turnaround of parts, and the company invests in the highest-quality equipment to optimise its production process – something Mr Shadwell believes is key to its success with F1.

As Mr Shadwell says: “We never stop. We never switch off. There is someone here all the time.”

The company has three key objectives – to invest and continually develop its machinery and production facilities; to employ and train highly-skilled engineers; and to provide a full 24/7 manufacturing facility to meet the needs of its customers.

Despite its rapid growth, it has stayed true to all of these and its commitment to training highly-skilled engineers has not changed. In fact, it is a big part of the company’s success.

Progressive created an apprenticeship academy in 2015 and invested heavily in manual machinery on which the students learn how to cut metal and make components. Next year it hopes to take on 10 to 12 apprentices and has also just employed its second full-time trainer, whose sole job is to mentor them. All apprentices spend a year in the academy perfecting their craft before moving on to the floor.

Mr Shadwell said: “Our apprenticeship scheme may not be as big as some other organisations, but in terms of the quality of training and opportunity, it’s up there with the very best. We like to think that we provide a premium level of training.”

So what are the plans for the future?

“To keep growing,” said Mr Shadwell, who previously worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry before joining Progressive Technology seven years ago.

“We want to expand our manufacturing footprint here in Newbury and we’re very excited about that.”

For more information about Progressive Technology and the work it does, visit www.progressive-technology.co.uk

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