Harriet Creagan, Safety, Health and Environment Officer joins the Ashwoods Electric Motors team to oversee legislative compliance and to minimise the environmental impact of the business.

Harriet joins Ashwoods after spending around three and a half years at AnTech in a similar role, looking after Health and Safety as well as being part of the Quality team.

Before her move to the South West, Harriet lived in Australia for seven years – moving out there a matter of days after her graduation from the University of Birmingham, where she studied Geology.

“At the time they were so desperate for Geologists, I had a couple of phone interviews and before I knew it, I was on a plane!”

Over the course of her time in Queensland, Harriet spent 3 years at the (literal) coalface, working 300m underground down the mines.

“You’d come up after a morning’s work and be covered from head to toe in coal dust – you would have to go straight into the shower before heading back to the office. It’s actually quite nice working somewhere you don’t need to worry about the possibility of the roof caving in!”

Harriet made the decision, after having worked in industries centred around fossil fuels, to switch to a more environmentally-minded business. In Ashwoods she found a young and rapidly growing cleantech business, making a significant impact for customers and helping the environment.

“For me, Ashwoods is an environmentally-friendly, upcoming and dynamic business – just the sort of place I wanted to work.”

Harriet’s immediate focus is to develop the Environmental Management System to achieve ISO 14001 certification. In the longer term, Harriet will concentrate on getting Ashwoods ISO 45001 certified. Both of these projects involve working closely with our Head of Quality, Steve Fluhrer. Harriet will also be looking at the waste streams from Innovation Valley and how we can become more efficient and effective in the ways in which we dispose of the business waste.

Welcome to the team, Harriet!

Ayrton Rogers, Applications Engineer at Ashwoods Electric Motors, has somewhat deceptively been around the business for longer than most. Having been a member of staff for two and a half years, such is the rapid growth of Ashwoods, Ayrton’s tenure ranks him comfortably within the top ten longest serving members of staff (precisely eighth, by Ayrton’s mental arithmetic).

Originally part of the engineering team, as a Mechanical Design Engineer, Ayrton now sits within the Sales and Applications team as an Applications Engineer. As Applications Engineer, he liaises with Sales, Engineering and the Applications team to ensure all gaps in knowledge are filled.

Ayrton says his role has evolved and changed alongside the changing needs of the growing and pivoting business.

“When I first started, we didn’t sell motors at anything like the rate we do today. My first years I spent working on integrated engineering solutions primarily working on prototype work. For us to now be working in a high-volume manufacturing facility for IPM motors is really quite something!”

Reflecting on some constants that have remained throughout his time at Ashwoods, Ayrton points to the creativity and enthusiasm exuding from the top down. He points out that Ashwoods is a highly innovative business and no one else does what Ashwoods do, in the way Ashwoods do it.

“Just when you think we’ve done everything, someone comes up with another great idea which completely changes the whole game up again!”

Looking ahead, Ayrton says he is looking forward to continuing his learning and development at the forefront of the business. Away from the office, Ayrton is a keen racing driver and mechanic, and he explains his plans for the 2019 motorsport season.

“The Pickup is now in winter hibernation, while I am working on finishing the build of my car for next season, which starts in April. It’s had a new engine now which is much bigger, to compete in a new formula, putting out roughly 450BHP per Tonne.”

No doubt we’ll be checking in with Ayrton in 2019 to find out how the season is going!

Motorcycle Live 2018 took place at the NEC, Birmingham between 17-25 November. Precisely 103,702 people attended the show over the course of the week, with the event boasting all of the big names in the industry, many of which are familiar with Ashwoods Electric Motors.

One such acquaintance was Veitis, who have recently unveiled the EV-Twin electric motorcycle. With a top speed of 70mph and 100 miles range the incredibly stylish machine is powered by an innovative Ashwoods IPM motor. With a continuous power rating of 6kW – with a two-minute 16kW peak – the EV-Twin qualifies for the A1 light motorcycle licensing sub-category, meaning it can be ridden on a standard UK driving license.

The number of faces at the NEC that are familiar to Innovation Valley highlights Ashwoods’ presence in the two-wheeler market, as well as other industries that we are expanding into.

Louis Coker, Engineering Sales Manager at Ashwoods was present at the event and commented:

“It was great to see how the industry is developing – especially the trend towards electric. Ashwoods continues to be at the forefront and is expanding into the two-wheeler market”.

The 2019 edition of the show will take place at the NEC from 16-24 November so ensure you save the date!

Members of the Ashwoods Electric Motors team were in attendance at the inaugural Space Awards, held at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. Up for both the ‘Coolest Workspace’ and ‘Wow!’ awards, Ashwoods were up against some stiff competition – including sister company Lightfoot in the ‘Coolest Workspace’ category!

Held in the historic setting of the RAMM in central Exeter, the event provided a fantastic opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and meet new connections from businesses in the local area. The light-hearted atmosphere was made more enjoyable with the presence of a competitive edge – all going head-to-head after all!

Unfortunately, Ashwoods were edged out in both categories (congratulations to Crowdcube and Hilton Barnfield!) but a silver lining was that in a separate category, ‘Best Workspace’ – Lightfoot won the honours! A massive well done to all concerned, and tangible evidence that we’re doing something right at Innovation Valley.

The full list of winners:

Best Sustainable Space Award – Devon Business and Education Centre

Best Shared Workspace Award – Exeter City Space

Best Public and Third Sector Award – We Are Live West

Best Open Plan Space Award – Francis Clark

Well Being Award – Chalk + Ward

Best Desk Award – Carousel Calendars

Coolest Space Award – Crowdcube

Wow! Award – Hilton Barnfield Architects

Best Workspace Award – Lightfoot!

Well done to all, see you next year!

Steve Fluhrer, Head of Quality at Ashwoods Electric Motors, is a talented guitarist in his spare time outside of Innovation Valley. A recent addition to the Ashwoods team, we couldn’t let an opportunity go amiss to talk to Steve about his musical career. In his own words, here is the latest in our ‘Hidden Hobbies’ series, with Steve:

I am a keen, albeit a frustrated blues rock guitarist and I have been playing lead and rhythm guitar for many years. I have spent time living in London and Berlin with various bands in the past but, unfortunately, I never quite got the opportunity to go professional. However, we did a tour of the North of England and had a long-term residency at a local pub in Plymouth in our heyday.

Nowadays I am restricted to studio work and local gigs with my band Las Vegas Rush, we have an Elvis impersonator as our vocalist, so our strap line is “A kinda Elvis Presley meets AC/DC”. I mainly play a ’74 Gibson Les Paul Blacktop and Fender Stratocaster.

My main influences are Gary Moore, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and more recently Joe Bonamassa who I had the pleasure of meeting with a few years ago.

So, if you are in the market for a blues rock band give me a call, you can catch us on www.las-vegas-rush.com  and have a listen.

Read Steve’s new starter blogpost here as well as our technical piece all about Quality at Ashwoods.

Hannah Shearman, Business Support Manager, joins the Ashwoods Electric Motors team from Air Marketing Group in Exeter, and is tasked with ensuring the overall smooth running of the office as well as acting as PA to our Board of Directors. Her day-to-day tasks are wide ranging and the spectrum of jobs undertaken is best described by Hannah as “akin to a great big rainbow”.

Hannah was at Air Marketing Group for 18 months and oversaw rapid growth (from nine staff to over fifty) and a move of offices. Having previously worked in the public sector for 18 years, firstly for Devon County Council and then for Healthwatch Devon, Hannah’s move to Air gave her the opportunity to be free from the constraint of any established structure and make the Business Support role her own, as she was the first in post.

This provided invaluable experience with her move to Ashwoods Electric Motors, as managing rapid growth, new staff and time management duties for senior management, are all essential as production ramps up at Innovation Valley!

When asked ‘Why Ashwoods?’ Hannah points to a gut feeling that it just felt right, and it signalled a return to her roots of being a Personal Assistant – being that one person to keep things running smoothly and successfully organise people.

“I actually applied for the job while sitting on an inflatable flamingo! I was on holiday in Menorca for my birthday and thought it was a perfect match whilst offering that new challenge.”

With fundraising being a key theme at Innovation Valley, Hannah, along with our HR Manager, Emma, plays a critical role in the organisation and implementation of charity events.

Outside of the office, Hannah is kept busy by son Jake, 10. Along with her partner Chris, all three enjoy family time swimming, going on bike rides, walks and looking forward to their yearly holidays which can be anywhere from Cornwall to Australia!

Welcome to the team, Hannah!  

Jon joins the Ashwoods Electric Motors team as Business Development Director, and will oversee new and incremental opportunities with blue chip global OEMs, in instances where Ashwoods technology is best suited to deliver maximum advantage. Jon has a global remit with specific areas of focus in terms of market segments based on their best fit to the business. The key target markets are: Aerial Work Platforms, materials handling equipment, golf cars, two wheelers and hybridisation of construction and agricultural equipment.

With over twenty years of experience in global business development – many of it in the EV and industrial vehicle industry – Jon brings a lot to our commercial department. Working for Sevcon for the past seven and a half years, with a particular focus on the Far East, Jon has spent more than 50% of his time in Asia – China, Japan and South Korea most notably. Previously in his career Jon has lived for prolonged periods in Hong Kong, the US (South Carolina) and Turkey.

It was in Turkey that he met his now-wife in the 1990s. They have now been married for more than twenty years and have two children aged fifteen and twelve, both of whom are, impressively, bilingual.

Jon is no stranger to Ashwoods and vice versa. Since his days in the controls industry, Jon has been a supplier and later a strategic partner to Ashwoods. Having seen the sales team and the innovative technology grow, disrupting the industry year on year, Jon decided that now was the perfect time to join Ashwoods Electric Motors. We couldn’t agree more!

“I have always had a really good working relationship with the Directors at Ashwoods. Now is a logical time to move, as the products are at a level of maturity to sell into the market at high volumes. I fully understand the benefits and added value that the Ashwoods IPM motor can offer to OEMs – now it’s time to make sure they do too!”.

Going forward, Jon plans to expand Ashwoods’ distribution channels and also to penetrate more large OEMs directly or via our strategic relationships with key stakeholders.

“I’m also very excited to help develop and grow the skills of my colleagues in the Ashwoods team”.

After an initial period of ‘getting up to speed’ with the products, processes and other elements of the business, Jon will spend around one week per month in the Innovation Valley offices, with the rest of his time being spent travelling the globe meeting current and prospective customers as well as being the face of Ashwoods Electric Motors at trade shows.

Welcome to the team, Jon!

Ashwoods Electric Motors exhibited at the STEM Careers Fair, hosted in the Great Hall of the University of Exeter. Alongside 80 other exhibitors, Ashwoods were part of a careers fair aimed at those studying courses in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Over 1000 undergraduates and postgraduates were in attendance, ensuring a well-trodden thoroughfare and a vibrant buzz of engaging students. Stand 23, proudly donning the Ashwoods Electric Motors livery and IPM 200-33 motor, was not exempt from the busy traffic. Many chatted to the Ashwoods team with backgrounds from varied disciplines, ranging from Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, Materials Engineering and Renewable Engineering – amongst others!

What was notable was the interest generated around Ashwoods by those in attendance, some with prior knowledge of the business via our website, and others who were taken in by our IPM motor on display.

The team enjoyed talking to the next generation of engineers, and can report back that the future in the field seems to be bright!

Ashwoods Electric Motors’ Mechanical Design Engineer, Elliott Johnston is a keen cyclist and has been for many years. The Exeter Wheelers member recently flew to the Alps for a weeks’ worth of riding.

While riding every day for a week straight, totalling over 500 miles across the mountainous terrain near Alep d’Huez, may not sound like a holiday to some, Elliott attempts to get in one of these breaks every year – having visited the French Alps numerous times, as well as the Pyrenees.

“Cycling is actually a pretty good way to socialise – there are loads of the Ashwoods engineers that are riders, and it helps there are a lot of good places to go in the South West”.

As well as off-road mountain biking, Elliott also races, although he claims not to take it too seriously…

“Racing is just a bit of fun… until you get to the start line that is…”

As with most riders, Elliott has got his fair share of stories regarding accidents, and even one with an Ashwoods theme… Earlier this year, on an after-work ride with Ashwoods’ Project Manager, Iain Gillam, he sustained a nasty injury to his hand. In attempting an off-road jump in the Devon countryside, Elliott was semi-successful – in so much that we cleared the jump and the ridge, but also his own bicycle. A heavy cut to his hand resulted in a bandage being worn at work the next day and some gentle ribbing from the rest of the advanced engineering team.

Despite this, Elliott remains undeterred and says the plans for his next cycling excursion are currently being finalised. We are assured that without the bad influence of Mr. Gillam, the likelihood of incident is greatly reduced! 

Laurie Hutchison, Manufacturing Engineering Manager joined Ashwoods Electric Motors in August 2017 – and over the last fourteen months his presence has certainly been felt across all aspects of the business.

Originally joining the team as a Special Build Engineer, Laurie was involved in fitting our electric motors into vehicles and building prototype motors, and he remains active in prototype builds to this day. He was also heavily involved in the move to our current home, Innovation Valley. From the installation of the custom specification resin floor in the production area, to the electronic gates, external wall and railings and car park – Laurie has had a hand in all of it!

After some time as Production Manager, Laurie moved into his current role as Manufacturing Engineering Manager with a specific focus on helping production with processes and systems to increase efficiency, including fine tuning techniques used by our Production Operators. There is always a continuous drive for improvement at Ashwoods, ensuring Laurie is always kept busy! Most recently Laurie helped develop the processes for the commercialised build of our 200-33 motor with balanced build stages and dedicated tooling and workspaces.

 “It’s the future. I was, and still am, excited by a futureproofed industry as the world switches to electric. Ashwoods remains as dynamic and quirky as when I joined, and that is something else which attracted me to the business.”

When not redesigning the layout of the production floor for greater efficiency or getting his hands dirty building a prototype motor, Laurie has just as hectic a life at home being a father to Grace, 5 and fiancée to Kerry. A keen pool player, representing his local pub side, and poker player, we will be keeping an eye out on Laurie at our casino-themed Christmas party!