Quality Manager, Mark Leah, has worked with us for just over a year, so now he has his feet firmly under the carousel we thought we’d turn the spotlight onto him and ask him a few questions about his career to date and his role at Excelsior.
Tell us about your career before Excelsior.
I began life in the Navy, The Indefatigable National Sea training school in Anglesey at the young age of 14. I joined Harrison Line in Liverpool as a galley boy aged 15, cleaning pots and pans, taking the eyes out of potatoes, all on deck in the Caribbean sun, dream job!
From there I progressed to multi-purpose ships, on deck and also a spell in the engine room, sailing to the West Indies for many years, America, north and south, South Africa and most European ports. After leaving the Navy, I entered into the engineering industry working as a miller/turner where I completed several qualifications in CNC and CAD programming to help progress my career.
I then started working in the laser industry in its early days. During that time, I was working on prestigious aerospace and military contracts, programming and operating a 3 axis flat bed and 5 axis gantry laser.
How did you get into the plastics industry?
It was quite ironic – after spending some time on the development of lasers for cutting plastics, I found myself working for a plastics company! They had recently acquired a 5 axis CNC and with my background I was a perfect fit.
I took on the role of Technical Development Manager, developing hand-trimmed products into CNC trimmed products, reducing cycle times by up to 60% and with a better quality finished edge. I later moved into production and general management within the same company, completing several Institute of Management qualifications, as well as a NEBOSH General Certificate, progressing my career to Operations Director.
What does your role entail?
My role as Quality Manager is to ensure the quality within Excelsior is improved to a consistently high level. I create and deliver training events – both quality and process related; deal with customer enquiries and ensure that operators are following company procedures. I also closely monitor production runs throughout the factory, deal with any day to day quality issues which arise and create and issue work instructions where required.
What projects have you been working on recently and what’s been the most interesting and why?
My most interesting project to date is the ‘Baby Changer’. The tooling came to us from a competitor, and the mouldings produced from it were somewhat poor in quality and colour. The white moulding was tinged with brown so I decided to thoroughly clean and polish the tool to remove the release coating residue build-up. This resulted in a perfectly white, quality moulding which was weight-tested for operation purposes and passed by the customer.
Operators were issued with work instructions as to the upkeep of the tool which has been maintained throughout a quantity of 2500 mouldings to date. The customer visited Excelsior remarking that they had never received the product as white before and that the quality surpassed that of any previous supplier. The concept of tool cleaning and upkeep has been taken to another level and rolled out to all tooling here at Excelsior and this proves that a well-kept tool produces quality mouldings consistently.
What do you like about working at Excelsior?
What I like most is the fact that it is a family-owned business where you are heard and your efforts are appreciated.
How is Excelsior different to other places you’ve worked?
Excelsior has a strong desire to be successful in the future and values experience and input from employees. A lot of other companies have lost their way in that respect.