Q&A with Paul Rabjohn, Brockhouse Commercial Director

Q: Paul, how long have you been with Brockhouse? And please tell us a little bit about you and your past experience?

I’ve been at Brockhouse nearly 2 years now. Before that I worked for nearly 30 years for a variety of (mostly Scandinavian) steel mills, and I started my career in the automotive sector with Jaguar. I was originally a metallurgist, but I’ve moved more onto the Commercial side over the years, it’s good to have some technical background to support the Commercial activity.

Q: Brockhouse has a fantastic reputation and has been established for over 135 years, how do you keep up to date with the latest innovations/technologies?

In some ways forging looks outwardly much like it did a long time ago, but behind the “metal bashing” is a wealth of expertise regarding how you design and model the tooling and the actual production operations. We constantly work on new projects, and every time the challenge is to come up with the optimum way to manufacture a component using all the tools we have at our disposal.

Q: Brockhouse understands quality assurance is key to their customers. What impact do you think quality has for Brockhouse? How do you make your customers feel confident in your work?

It’s important to have ISO 9001 approval but really that is just the start, we fully understand that we need to have robust processes right through from designing the tooling until the end product is ready for dispatch. Of course, we inspect our products, but quality is much more than that. Quality is about having systems in place to make sure all our processes are fully capable of delivering in line with customer needs. Customers can see a high-quality product, and also understand what is behind it.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the key to Brockhouse’s success and its growth?

I think the key to success is to have the expertise and experience to be able to work with a wide range of industries, from higher volume automotive and yellow goods applications down to much lower volume safety critical components in sectors such as nuclear and aerospace. We can keep it flexible with small batches of complex components, or supply in much larger quantities when required. Quick responses to enquiries and highly skilled engineering staff mean we are seen as a reliable partner for customers embarking on new projects, working together to solve problems and develop fresh business.

Q: What do you believe sets Brockhouse apart from its competition?

Some of it is in our technical capability, we are able to produce large, closed die forgings up to 140kgs in-house which is well above the capabilities of most forging companies globally. Also, our “one stop shop” aspect, where we can offer downstream functions such as machining, heat treatment, testing and painting. However, equally important is our attitude and reputation, working together with customers to come up with cost-effective solutions promptly

Q: What do you enjoy most about your role as Commercial Manager? What are the main challenges?

It is pleasing when projects get finalised, and we win new business with a satisfied customer. It’s always hard to look too far ahead, but the goal is to ensure everything is always running smoothly with a good order book extending into the future that enables us to plan future investments.

I would imagine it is the same for many UK SME’s, the challenge is to remain cost competitive with lower cost countries. To do this we need to work smarter and find areas where we can play to our strengths, not just join in a race to the bottom on prices. Using our expertise to offer better solutions we feel that Brockhouse can continue to thrive, finding new customers as we explore new applications and market sectors.