Click on the photos below to find out more about the knowledgeable staff at Hydraquip’s Braided Hose Division. With 50+ years of combined industry experience, the team are here to ensure every customer receives the appropriate product for their application.
Leaving school at 17 I thought being a draughtsman would be a good career path as I had a flair for technical drawing at school. I was lucky enough to land the first job I applied for at a small Hydraulic Valve Company called Transnordic. It did not take long to establish I was not suited to an eight hour day at a drawing board and was soon moved into production and testing which I loved being a more ‘hands on’ practical role. It also involved going to college on a day release basis which I have to admit I detested and in the next couple of years realised the classroom was not for me.
During this time the company sent me on some trips around the country to install products or carry out minor modifications on site which gave me my first face to face customer experience. It also confirmed I liked travelling. So with no commitments I contracted the travel bug. As soon as my apprenticeship was completed I resigned, packed a backpack and spent the next three years travelling and finding random work to pay for my travels. This included driving a tower crane in Gibraltar for four months, dishwashing in a German ski resort for three months where I learnt to ski badly and nine months in the USA and Canada where I learnt how to pick apples, move furniture and to deal with a lot of weird people!!
When I left school the possibility of going to university was not even a consideration, but I like to think of this period as my university of life and if I have to give a young person any advice it would be to travel and work abroad.
On returning to the UK staying in one place and having a regular income seemed like a good idea to recoup some finance and then continue my travels. I spotted a job in the local paper with a company called Medway Hydraulics, selling Hydraulic Hose. The main attraction was amazing as it came with a company car. This was beyond my dreams that someone would give you a car and pay you. So with my little knowledge of basic hydraulics I applied for the job and bingo I was in the Hydraulic Hose industry.
My training was a week out with an experienced sales guy called Brian Harrington. I can remember vividly visiting a few Kent companies like Hornby Hobbies and Shell research and wondering if I could ever talk with the relaxed and confident manner Brian had, setting customers at ease and appearing more their friend than salesman. This was a style I adopted and was soon chucked out into the less than welcoming customers of South East and Southwest London. Very nervous and by trial and error I managed to build the area up and it was soon time to move on to a job with Aeroquip UK where I thought I had hit the big time!
The more corporate world of a global company added greatly to my experience, but did not suit my more personal style of wanting to work directly with customers on a more down to earth level and be more in control of getting results on a day by day basis. When Graham Rosoman of Abbey Hose offered me the opportunity to join his company and open its first Kent branch I jumped at the chance relishing the challenge of building a new business in Kent from scratch. My time with Graham at Abbey Hose taught me a great deal about opening a new business, buying and selling products, opening new branches and more about running a business. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.
While at Abbey Hose I spotted an opportunity and was keen to open a new business in Crawley which Graham backed and supported and 25 years ago to the day, Gatwick Hose Services Ltd was born. In very humble beginnings and with only three staff that became day one of the Hydraquip story.
Within months the country went into a bad recession and the early years of Gatwick Hose were simply survival, but many good lessons were learned.
Fast forward 25 years the group now has just over 200 staff, 14 locations soon to be 15 and most importantly Brian Harrington is a valued member of the team
Thank you Brian and the entire team that has contributed to such an amazing and fulfilling unique business experience and helped make
Hydraquip what it is today, but that is another story…….
Hydraquip I believe is totally unique with the UK Hydraulic Industry and I am as enthused, optimistic and ambitious for the business today as I was 25 years ago and am looking forward to the next couple of decades and new opportunities and experiences.
For me 25 years ago was also very memorable for personal reasons, as my only daughter Lara was born to accompany her older brothers Ross and Jay. She was coincidently due the first week of August, but arrived eight weeks early and very premature on 6 June. She spent the next seven weeks in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) at Medway Hospital and I cannot thank them enough for the amazing job they did.
I was very proud on Lara’s wedding day last year to Tom Scrace and even prouder that she now has her own son Alex. One of the highlights of my personal life this year was to be able to fly Lara and Alex down to Exeter to visit my mother so she could meet her great grandson. Alex was just five weeks old at the time and was a perfect passenger, too young to ask are we nearly there yet, but Lara still did.
Contact Duncan MacBain
Growing up in rural North Wales I left school in 1979 and “dabbled” with further education with my career path being something of an enigma with no clear idea on where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do nor where I wanted to do it. My early years were spent on a number of Youth Training Scheme (YTS ) employments ( which earned me a whopping £19.50/week initially), where I tried my hand in an insurance brokers dealing with claims, a jewellers – where I first realised how little jewellery really costs and also in a local tax office sorting out post budget chaos or maybe in hindsight adding to the post budget chaos. As these started to dry up and my career path was still around a blind corner, I came across something I had no idea what it was – hydraulics. I applied and surprisingly got the job as an external Salesman with Blackwell Hydraulics in North Wales. That was early in 1984 where I stayed until 1994. Bucking the trend of the time of moving up North I decided to move South and started at Gatwick Hose Services (as it was) in May 1994 and the rest is as they say – “A blur”.
My role within the company has developed over the years from a simple sales role to my current position as Commercial Director for the Braided Hose Division of Hydraquip at Rochester in Kent. Still primarily a sale based role I have picked up various bits of knowledge on products and more importantly from the industries I have supplied into which helps greatly with the customers I look after across the UK and Overseas in a diverse range of industries. Originally working at the Crawley branch concentrating on the fluid power customers I transferred across to the Braided Hose division to concentrate on promoting that side of the business in the plumbing and heating markets to both resellers and manufactures where a braided hose is used.
Like many in the fluid power industry I have problems differentiating my work life from my social life which has caught me out on a number of occasions. Once after a ride at Alton Towers my wife caught me hanging over a fence, thinking I was being sick she had her mocking face discreetly hidden behind one of sympathy. These both disappeared when she realised I was looking at a hydraulic hose on the ride! It was an 1 ¼” multispiral as a matter of fact. Another time whilst in London celebrating the father in laws birthday and a ride on the London eye, we walked across one of the bridges, you know one of the globally known famous London bridges whose name escapes me, when as I neared the end of it something caught my eye. When my wife caught up and asked where the hell I had rushed off to I explained that the pipes connecting the pontoon water supply where ones I had sold. I was again mocked but this time there were another eight family members with her to assist in the humiliation. Maybe I should have stopped talking at that point but I decided to add the part number and who I sold the hoses to. Big mistake and often reminded of that day at a family get together.
Out of work when I can escape from my fascination of all thing hoses and pipes I enjoy motorsport and have been organising Hydraquip’s charity kart events since 2001 with the current annual event called Karting for Heroes raising money for the Help for Heroes charity since 2010. My motorsport skills are limited on the whole as a spectator with driver skills and lack of trim physique giving me reasonable excuse why I am not that competitive. My other interests include my garden which, much to my bank managers delight, changes layout on a regular basis in search of that perfect design. This is my major project for 2015 or possibly winter 2014 if the tv is seasonally naff and is aptly entitled – “50 Shades of Green – The search for a totally liberating and addictive garden”. My unofficial project for 2015 is to revamp my kitchen along with lots of cookery gadgets. Yes ‘my kitchen’ and not my wife’s. I blame Heston Bloomingheck for this after watching his programmes and trying out some of his recipes at home, even if they were slightly below his standards, probably a tad more than slightly in reality. I say unofficial because my wife has no in depth knowledge of this project (yet) and has already banned me from certain cook shops due to a small misdemeanour a few years back when I went out for a pair of shoes and came back having bought a range cooker.
Before joining the industry in 2008, I worked as a Manager at 3 Mobile in Maidstone for 8 years. Whilst working here I gained extensive knowledge of sales and customer service, progressing within the company over the time I spent there. As a Manager I was responsible for the staff within the Maidstone store, ensuring they reached their targets and the store was generating sales whilst providing an excellent service to customers. Unfortunately some of 3 Mobile’s smaller stores were closed so I began looking for my next opportunity.
It wasn’t long before I received a phone call from a local recruitment company who told me that Pipe Solutions were looking for a Sales Executive at their branch in Strood, Kent. I happily accepted and was responsible for sales and customer growth in the largest area of the UK – London and the South East. I was involved in some exciting projects whilst working at Pipe Solutions including designing and supplying hose assemblies for major landmark buildings and skyscrapers in London. I would contact the buyers and purchasing departments for these companies, as well as liaising with engineers to ensure the correct products were manufactured and met the customer’s specifications. I was able to assist with high value orders from a London based company who were working on a local power station, plus multiple £100K orders from a variety of customers within the area. I worked alongside the technical field sales engineer, he would go out on site and create the designs and specifications for the upcoming projects which we enjoyed. I loved being part of the full process from design to installation and received great job satisfaction knowing that I had been a part of the build of such a famous building.
After 7 years with Pipe Solutions I felt that it was time for a change and a new challenge so I joined Fercell Engineering Ltd in Aylesford on a friend’s recommendation. I worked in their sales team working with ducting and pipework which was new to me, so an interesting change, I also often went onto site too installing the ducting and piping for different customers which I enjoyed as my days were more varied.
2 years later I saw a job vacancy for Hydraquip’s Braided Hose Division in Rochester who have been a supplier of Pipe Solutions for a number of years. The confidence I had in my sales experience and knowing the products that Hydraquip supply encouraged me to apply for the position of Technical Support. I had an interview with the Commercial Director, Geoff Kelley who offered me the job. I began working at Hydraquip in March 2017 and my main job role involved contacting existing and new merchants whilst opening new accounts for the business. 200 new merchant branches were opened and are now regularly spending with Hydraquip’s Braided Hose Division as well as an increase in spend from existing customers. This has really helped to increase the awareness of the company. Now as a Technical Consultant I am responsible for maintaining our customer base, opening large accounts and working on larger, more complex technical jobs than I ever have before. When customers approach Hydraquip with their specification, from drawings and photos I am able to provide a detailed solution which meets and exceeds their requirements, ensuring that no details are overlooked and all technical aspects are considered. I recently worked on a project for a 7 storey building where £12,000 worth of hoses were purchased. The engineer contacted me with his requirements and we manufactured ½” and ¾” insulated EPDM rubber hose assemblies for chilled and heating applications, which were completed with tectite end fittings and class O insulation. In the future I would like to progress within my role to visit sites and see customers face to face whilst continuing to provide technical support for large scale projects across the UK and overseas.