Nigel Sanders, Production Operator, is the latest to feature in our ‘new starter’ series, and has been part of the Ashwoods Electric Motors family for exactly three months.

Funnily enough, those three months have been just about the most seismic three months in Ashwoods history, with the move into state-of-the-art and high-volume production facility, Innovation Valley.

Previously, Nigel worked for Westomatic as a Field Service Engineer, across the South West. Now, based in Newton Abbot, his daily travel time is greatly reduced!

Recommended by fellow Production Operator Neil as part of Ashwoods’ ‘refer-a-friend’ scheme, it was deemed that both the business and Nigel were a good fit!

“It’s a really exciting place to be and the changes are evident with the move to Innovation Valley”.

Originally from West London, Nigel is a keen supporter of Chelsea Football Club – although he is keen to point out that this has been since 1969 and he has seen the bad times as well as the good! Aside from following Chelsea, Nigel is also partial to a round of golf and slot racing, ensuring he is never short of an activity to occupy his free time!

Welcome to Ashwoods Electric Motors’ Production team, Nigel!

Frank Wheeler has been part of the Ashwoods Electric Motors family for over three and a half years, and as such is one of the familiar faces around Innovation Valley.

Our Prototype Technician currently specialises in the production of our 200-66 motors, but his influence can be felt across the Production floor as many of the processes currently in place have been devised by Frank, utilising his deep understanding of Ashwoods acquired over the last 3 years.

Frank is a Missouri native, and worked in his home state for a company that manufactured parts for John Deere. He also worked in Iowa for a CNC company, which would prove a great experience before joining Ashwoods.

As with every great story, there is a love interest. Frank’s now wife is a Devonian and met Frank online. After hours and hours of Skyping, Frank took the plunge and moved over to the Exeter area.

Nearly four years later and Frank is almost part of the furniture at Ashwoods and is happily married – we couldn’t have scripted it better ourselves!

“I love the direction Ashwoods is going in.” 

Frank has overseen a huge part of the Ashwoods journey so far, including our move into a high-volume production facility, Innovation Valley. Moving over without knowing anyone apart from his wife, Ashwoods offered Frank a great network of colleagues and friends.

“I’m close with a lot of people here, including a lot of the guys at our sister company, Lightfoot.”

When asked about the biggest differences between the United States and the UK, Frank answered, “Pretty much everything! From the language to how the roads and towns are devised.”

In his spare time Frank is a keen musician, having built his own electric guitars and being a big fan of rock music – particularly grunge. He lists Alter Bridge and Hailstorm as some of his favourite artists, having seen the former in Cardiff and is planning on seeing the latter in Bristol in the near future.

Ashwoods Electric Motors has enjoyed a productive few days showcasing our innovative product range across the Atlantic in Novi, Michigan. The annual exhibition runs alongside Advanced Battery Technologies and Critical Power Expo, as part of the overarching Battery Show. This is all with a North American focus, thus allowing Ashwoods maximum exposure to this market – an opportunity that has not gone to waste!

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo is a forum for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicle technology, displaying manufacturing solutions along the supply chain including electrical powertrains and components, battery management systems, materials and equipment.

Booth 847 proudly displayed our 300 motor as an on-engine generator alongside an IPM 200-66 with pump drive. Oerlikon Fairfield also exhibited an Ashwoods IPM 120 motor on a gearbox as well as one of our 200 series motors on a Graziano axle.

Our Commercial Director, Jim Winchester was present in Michigan and commented:

“It was great to be a part of the Oerlikon Drive Systems stand displaying both our core technologies and integrated solutions to the North American market. The interest at the show has further cemented my opinion that we truly are enabling our customers to enhance their products through the use of IPM motor technology.”

Ashwoods Electric Motors’ state of the art new production facility, Innovation Valley, features prominently in the 2018 Space Awards shortlist.

Not only do Ashwoods boast a nomination in both the ‘Coolest Workspace’ category and the ‘Wow!’ award category, but sister company Lightfoot (also based at Innovation Valley) are also nominated for ‘Best Workspace’ and ‘Coolest Workspace’!

The Space Awards 2018 judges look for innovation, creativity and sustainable solutions to office working environments, rewarding great workspaces that are good for happiness, productivity and the well-being of employees. Other categories include, ‘Best Sustainable Space Award’, ‘Best Workspace Award’, ‘Well-Being Award’ and ‘Best Shared Space and Best Open Plan Space Award’.

The combined four nominations between Ashwoods and Lightfoot, are further proof that Innovation Valley is truly a cutting-edge facility, not only with high volume production capabilities, but also a fantastic working environment for our staff.

The Space Awards are held in November and we can’t wait to go head-to-head with our sister company on the night! May the ‘coolest’ win!

Earlier this year, Heather Babbage, Ashwoods Electric Motors’ Financial Controller raised £300 for Cancer Research UK by taking on a gruelling 5-day trek across the Alps and completed it in just two and a half days! This is the equivalent of two marathons in two days!

Heather is a keen walker (as you have probably guessed) and has done very similar taxing challenges in Morocco and Iceland before this most recent adventure across the Franco-Italian border. We can hardly think of more picturesque locations to trek, although we will need some practice before we can begin to think about keeping pace with our Financial Controller!

Not content with these impressive feats alone, Heather has informed us that she has already signed up for the Isle of Wight Challenge in 2019. This is a challenge involving doing a full circuit of the Isle of Wight – a whopping 106km – in just 24 hours.

“Hopefully there’s no snow this time!” says Heather.

Heather will again be fundraising in the runup to the Isle of Wight Challenge, and we will share all the relevant details then.

Best of luck from all at Ashwoods and congratulations on an unbelievable achievement!

This is a guest blog written by our Business Support Manager, Lauren Heath, on all things ‘foodie’!

As a full-time Business Support Manager and a passionate advocate of the administration sector, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking I have my hands full five days a week; yet somehow in my other waking hours I am lucky enough to indulge my other passion (aside from parenthood and wifehood) – food!

My working life originally started out in hospitality. I even ran an 11-bedroom hotel, with my now-husband, at the tender age of 21 – I adored it, communicating with customers, enjoying great food and drink. Fast forward over a decade in admin and, thanks to the power of social media, I found myself responding to call out on Twitter in February 2016 from Eating Exeter – an online food blog.

Now called Dining Devon, I feel privileged that I get to have foodie adventures around the county including VIP openings, behind-the-scenes at food festivals, staycations in hotels, trying new food or drink products and eating out. Some of my foodie outings are part of our normal life as, whilst some might come home with new clothing or trinkets, we tend to come home with local food or drink that we discover on our days out around this wonderful county and the rest of the South West – and we love to shout about it. It has certainly helped my social media skills as I am now very well-rehearsed in all facets of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn; this of course comes in handy in the day job too.

Thanks to the exposure and connections I have gained through my blogging, I have also been writing food reviews for Crumbs Magazine Devon since June 2016. It’s amazing to see your writing and photos online, but even more fantastic to see it in print. I have also helped Taste of the West and Food and Drink Devon with the occasional judging for their awards.

What is a food blogger you might wonder? Well, a blogger is someone who documents their life or experiences online for anyone to read. A food blogger is the same but focussed on the food and drink sector – some people might cook at home, then blog their recipes; others visit new openings or try food products and give their opinions. Bloggers have become a fantastic tool and outlet for PR companies and establishments themselves, who invite us to partner with them, to help get their brand or offering noticed by the right audiences.

Some of my favourite and most exciting moments have included being hosted by Michael Caines MBE at a press lunch at his newly opened country house hotel Lympstone Manor, learning how to butcher meat properly with Pipers Farm and Exeter Cookery School and even enjoying an overnight stay in a treehouse at Deer Park Hotel.

Dining Devon loves everything to do with food and drink in Devon; we especially love local and independent businesses. My hospitality background enables me to understand the many behind-the-scenes efforts that go into producing a great food or drink offering. It’s not always about enjoying fancy food either, you can’t beat great home cooking or tasty simple food and drink.

Gary Brant, Head of Supply Chain joins the Ashwoods Electric Motors team and oversees all aspects of the end to end Supply Chain.

Originally from Midlands, Gary has been based in the South West and South Coast for many years and will be part of the new ERP implementation team for Ashwoods, focusing upon Procurement, Inventory Management, Logistics and Materials Planning. He started as an apprentice buyer out of school, and worked his way up to becoming a Senior Procurement manager at CEMEX UK, in Poole before being Head of Procurement and Supply Chain at John Zink Hamworthy Construction.

At Hamworthy, Gary grew his team from a department of four to twenty-two over seven years, and oversaw the outsourcing of production to the far east. Over that seven-year period, he went to countries across Asia, North America and Europe – including visiting Vietnam no less than twenty-nine times!

“Drop me right now in Ho Chi Minh City and I’d be fine. I know it like the back of my hand.”

Gary’s extensive travelling allowed him to take in differing cultures across the world, enriching him in the process. He points out that some people may simply associate some parts of the world with being cost effective, but in fact the expertise, skill set and enthusiasm is impressive and encouraging – especially when you immerse yourself in their culture. Gary says he learnt so much about himself, his profession and the industry on his travels.

When asked, ‘why Ashwoods?’, he responded:

“I am really enthused by the progressive plans for the Company, I love the people here, and see it as a great opportunity to energise me and allow me to put my mark on a business that is growing rapidly with supportive Directors”.

We couldn’t agree more!

Outside of the office, Gary’s two children and four grandchildren are  a massive part of his life – as is his beloved Walsall F.C. Our new Head of Supply Chain has been an avid Saddler since he first went to game on his Dad’s shoulders.

We welcome Gary to the Ashwoods Electric Motors team.

Jamie Seaton joined Ashwoods Electric Motors over four years ago as an Applications and Test Engineer, and now holds the title of Head of Applications. He is responsible for everything to do with testing and motor sizing in the business.

Prior to this, Jamie was a Test Engineer at Emissions Analytics. Jamie joined Emissions Analytics after studying Motorsport Engineering at University, making him one of the go-to members of the Ashwoods team for anything to do with motorsport.

Often found in our dedicated ‘dyno’ room for the testing of our innovative electric motors, Jamie made the switch from motorsport to electrical engineering. This was after a period of travelling for the best part of a year. Starting in Thailand, Jamie then spent six months in Australia, working for three months on a sheep farm.

“I was rounding up sheep like a cowboy! I had the shoes and everything!”

After this he headed to New Zealand, doing a tour of both the North and South Island before coming home via the US and Iceland. We can certainly think of worse ways to spend ten months…

Being at Ashwoods for over four years, naturally Jamie has seen a lot of change – most notably our move into our high-volume manufacturing facility, Innovation Valley.

“Witnessing first hand, and being a part of, the growth of the business has been really special, especially the move into a semi-automated production line.”

As well as overseeing the testing of our motors in the ‘dyno’ room, Jamie also gets to fulfil his travelling hobby with his job, most recently representing Ashwoods in India and the US. He also supported the sales team at a trade show in Germany and will do the same again next year.

When not in Ashwoods colours, Jamie enjoys the outdoors in his spare time – be it walking his dog, Maisie, or more high-octane fun such as white-water rafting!

The 2018 edition of the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo takes place from 11th – 13th of September in Novi – near Detroit, Michigan. Ashwoods Electric Motors will be exhibiting on stand 847 alongside Oerlikon Fairfield and Oerlikon Drive Systems.

The exhibition runs alongside two other events – The Battery Show and Critical Power Expo, meaning that over 8,000 attendees will be at the Suburban Collective Showplace centre in Novi – giving Ashwoods maximum exposure to the North American market.

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology expo is a forum for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicle technology, showcasing manufacturing solutions along the supply chain including electrical powertrains and components, battery management systems, materials and equipment. Last year the event boasted keynote speeches from Uber, Hyundai and Toyota as well as talks on 48V by Bosch and GM, amongst others.

Jim Winchester, our Commercial Director, commented:

“Exhibiting at Electric and Hybrid Expo, alongside Oerlikon, provides Ashwoods Electric Motors with a great opportunity to meet with existing customers in North America as well as explore new and exciting business possibilities.”

Ashwoods are exhibiting a state of the art on-engine generator alongside our range of IPM motors combined with planetary drives, axles and pump units. If you are going to be at Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, or The Battery Show or Critical Power Expo, head to booth number 847 to meet our team. If you are unable to attend this year, keep your eyes peeled for updates on our website and social media channels.

 

Ashwoods’ Commercial Director, Jim Winchester, has been with the business for over five years, originally joining as an Applications Engineer. Over that time Jim has seen the business grow exponentially, including the big move into Innovation Valley.

“It’s incredible to think how far we’ve come in my time here, I’ve seen such an unbelievable change and massive technological advances.”

Jim heads up our Commercial department and is tasked with worldwide business development and project delivery. Initially, as an Applications Engineer in the design team, Jim worked on designing our innovative electric motors and integrating them into customer’s applications.

Joining Ashwoods after graduating with first-class honours in Engineering, Jim always had one eye on moving into the business development side of the business.

“Originally, I was Applications Engineer, Product Manager, Sales, and Marketing in a team of one!”

Now in his role as Commercial Director, Jim and his team are in many ways the face of the business; representing Ashwoods worldwide, meeting customers and selling our innovative electric motors. Despite the extensive travelling across the globe that accompanies this role, Jim says he loves the day to day working environment with his team – but ultimately nothing beats securing new business!

Outside of the office, Jim is a keen golfer, and got to combine work and play by exhibiting earlier this year at the PGA Show in Orlando. Here, Jim got to see the rest of the golfing industry – including the level of technology used to analyse swing and club design. Some say it was this insight in Florida that enabled him to recently win a tournament at his local golf club. However, we don’t think Rory McIlroy is quaking in his boots just yet, with Jim’s prize totalling £10 in club shop vouchers!