Chris Morton, CEO Caledan
How one man is driving a rebirth in the Welsh steel industry
What was your first ever job?
My career began at 16 when I was hired as an apprentice plasterer, working in the South Wales Valleys. I enjoyed having a hand-on role in the construction industry, but aspired to extend my skills.
How did you get into Manufacturing/the steel industry?
After 6 years as a plasterer and 2 years of attending night school, I made the decision to take up an opportunity to work as a trainee quantity surveyor and have worked in and around the manufacturing industry ever since. My early hands on experience has been invaluable as my career has progressed because I’ve had a clear sense of the service needed alongside the product to ensure top quality.
When did you first identify the opportunity for a new steel rolling mill given the backdrop of a declining steel industry in the UK?
Prior to launching Caledan, I spent 20 years leading an installation company specialising in interior systems and light gauge steel framing. Working on a range of projects across South Wales it became evident that there was a real need for a manufacturer here in Wales, eliminating the need for products to be shipped/transported into the area in order for works to be done. I was passionate about creating a Wales based manufacturing business and recognised that in doing so I could capitalise on local skills and experience whilst supporting the previously declining steel industry.
What makes Caledan different?
My vision for Caledan has always been about providing a complete end to end service. We pride ourselves on offering a bespoke system from start to finish, each tailored for the customer and their individual needs. Because we handle the design, manufacturing and assembly we can provide an excellent product and service whilst simplifying projects for our clients who no longer need to engage with multiple suppliers to complete work, which in itself saves time and money.
What’s the best thing about working in Wales?
I’m a very proud Welshman. It’s a place with a history of quality craftsmanship, a great ethos and the right people and skills to be a world leading manufacturing base. I’m fortunate that my business passion can thrive in the place I call home, and I hope that Caledan and the work we do will be a core part of Wales’ industrial future.
What do you see the biggest challenges over the next 12 months?
As a new company our biggest challenge is to achieving brand recognition within the industry. This is always a tricky area to conquer and an important one too. We believe we have a unique and first class product – now we need to tell everyone about it.
Where would you like to see the business in 5 years’ time?
I‘d love to see Caledan recognised as the number one supplier to businesses in Wales and beyond. Its an important time for both our business and the industry as a whole. We’d love to be not just a supplier of choice, but a valued local employer and become embedded in the community for the long term.
What sort of projects has the business been involved in to date?
We have successfully established trade agreements with a number of suppliers both locally and nationally. We’re already using our skillset across a range of different projects from residential housing projects to more commercial ventures such as conference centres and leisure centres.
What do you think the future holds for the Welsh steel industry?
I honestly believe Welsh Steel has a bright future, and am passionate about growing Caledan to become a core pillar of the industry. We simply can’t afford for the skills, passion and products in South Wales to be anything other than successful, and by working hard now we can preserve the industry for many future generations to come.
What advice would you go back and give yourself if you were starting this journey again?
I’d tell myself to just keep pushing forward but to remember to look for the simple solutions. I’d remind myself to stay focused and concentrate on the easy wins and priority jobs. Too much diversity can be costly so I’d tell myself to prioritise.
Source: Brand Content - http://brandcontent.co.uk/