Attention to detail is what we do at Ogle so it made sense to give each member of staff a bit of attention too. The ‘Our People’ series at Ogle highlights the people behind the work and what they like to do in their spare time.
Former international diver Dan Dowell has been with Ogle for some time, and he still gets a kick from seeing finished models heading off to clients.
I came here eight years ago as a trainee model maker and after three years, I progressed to being a CNC operator. I do a lot of work on the Hurcos and more recently the five-axis Belotti.
The desire to learn more. I know that probably sounds silly, but a lot of times I wish I could go back to school. I know a lot of older people say that. But I do wish I had listened more and now I’m older I just want to learn more, especially when I’m doing five-axis projects. Whenever we’re doing complicated shapes on the Belotti, I enjoy the challenge, learning more and putting it into practice.
I like it when a job is finished; when it comes off the machine, it all looks good, and everything has worked the way it should.
For a lot of machined components, there is no post processing or hand finishing to hide behind. The finish you get off the machine is the finished article. And it has to be perfect. I like that kind of pressure and the satisfaction of achieving something.
That was when I worked on the Singapore Airlines sky suites. It was a mock-up for an aircraft interior that had its own bed, seat and TV. I had to go down to Wales, where we set it all up. The client thought it looked amazing. It was great seeing the reaction. That went into production, as well.
And then, in the past year, we made a great big ribbon mould, about 4m long. It was like waves – it was made from a solid lump of material, with undercuts, where we had to cut in from the side. It was really complex. The material was easy to machine, which helped, but in terms of the programming it was very involved. Seeing it finished was great. We had to make it in two halves that went together and formed this big chandelier. It was gold-plated and had LEDs in it. It was mad!
When I finished school, I started doing an apprenticeship in building services and engineering. I did that for about three years, before I was made redundant and got a warehouse job as a stop gap.
My brother worked at a landfill site, doing the caretaking, and I got a job with him there – literally picking up litter. Over time, I did other roles on the site, including driving a tractor, dumper trucks and a 60-tonne waste compactor. I was very hands on and got involved in fixing things.
I’ve always, always been interested in DIY. I have always been good with my hands, mending things. My best way of learning is being hands on, on the job. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t clever – I got mainly Bs and Cs in my GCSEs and I did A levels – but school was all about remembering facts and writing them down in tests and that wasn’t for me.
If I watched someone take apart a machine, I could probably do it, but if someone wrote me an instruction manual and I had to learn it, it would be harder.
You can kind of take it for granted working here, but when you think about what we actually do, and the finished product – that is magical. Whenever I tell anyone what I do they always think it’s well cool!
I hear from clients that our quality is better than others. If they need it to be spot on, we can do that. We’re the best of the best and we really bend over backwards to accommodate our clients and give them what they want.
The ability of our team is first class. Anyone can buy the machines, but it’s the quality of our work force that makes the difference.
We need to be going out to schools, especially to talk to those doing design tech at GCSE level and A level. It isn’t always a benefit going to university. If they come here and are serious about it, they’ll be good at it because there is great on-the-job training and support. And it’s a diverse job, everything is different from one day to the next. Even now, every day I am learning.
Most of my time at the weekends is spent with my daughter. I follow Arsenal and I enjoy Brewdog’s Punk IPA.
But something not a lot of people know is that for about 15 years of my life I was a springboard diver. I’ve dived all over Europe at national and international level and picked up a couple of medals along the way.