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PPS Peter Davies: 50 Years in Stainless Steel

03 Mar 2015

On the 1st March 2015 our Founder & Chairman celebrated his 50th year in the Stainless Steel Industry and we thought it would be fun to find out what is different 'now' to when he started out, so we asked him some prying questions.


Peter Davies started work at Firth Vickers on 1st March 1965 in the Sales Department. Firth Vickers was mill owned and very old school.Production was labour intensive and separatist with a formal structure. There were different canteens for workers, staff, junior managers, senior managers and directors (including keys to the executive loos!). However there were good worker facilities apart from the canteens. There was a company sports field with tennis courts, football and cricket pitches and a table tennis room.



Q. What was your starting salary in 1965?

A. £12.50 per week in 'old' money.


Q. How long did it take to Dull Polish an average tonne pack of sheet?

A. It took several machines and several stages to do this so it was probably about half a day. Polishing was much more time consuming taking several passes on several machines. Sheets were held onto a bed by a vice rather than fed via pinch rolls. Handling was manual with two men per machine and a total of four machines including a de-greasing tank and a coating line. Finally all sheets were guillotined to size assuming they had passed inspection.


Q. We have moved from Fax technology to email technology over the last ten years - how did your customers get in touch 50 years ago? and how did you quote them?

A. Enquiries were either received in the post, by telex or by phone. Fax and e mail didn't exist of course. All enquiries were priced by either the sales supervisor or a senior clerk and double checked by another clerk. After checking they were passed to a typing pool of three 'girls' who typed the quotation to a standard format. After typing they went back to the sales office for further checking and were then posted out to the customer.


Q. 'Just in time' is a fact of life - was it the same in 1965?

A. No, there was a scarcity of stainless steel and customers were 'allowed to buy from us'. I was told off for suggesting we should phone customers and offer the over production from stock.


It is interesting to speculate on how our industry will change over the next 50 years.


For additional information please contact Kirsty Davies-Chinnock on 0121 555 6569 or email:




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