L-r: Paul Smith and Neil Henry.
With contracts already in place at colleges in Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle, this latest achievement reflects the 17 year dedication of the engineering firm. Once based in just a small Sunderland office, HLA Services now stand strong in Tyneside, Teesside, Cumbria and Leeds.
Directors Paul Smith and Neil Henry – both engineers by trade – have been there since the very beginning, and have witnessed the number of staff employed at the company rise from just 3, originally – to 130 today.
The company recently turned over an impressive £12 million, and both long-serving directors recognise the family run ethos (that founded the company) as key to both long-term growth, and securing their latest contract.
“We have people who have worked for us for ten or 15 years from when they were teenage apprentices, and are now on their way to becoming senior engineers with their own apprentices. That’s like watching your kids grow up, which I find a really rewarding part of working here,” said Mr Henry.
“I make a point of getting to know them all personally - when their birthdays are, when their kids have been born and so on. I might only see them once a week before they head off in their vans, but they’ll never be just a number to me.”
With Middlesbrough College now on board for the next 3 years, students have been invited to join others from Sunderland College and attend work experience placements with HLA Services. One student in particular travels four days every week to gain vital experience and to develop the professional skills necessary to thrive in the industry.
Whether these students end up employed full time by HLA Services, or decide to move on, both directors are just extremely delighted that more skilled engineers have joined the workforce across the region, bettering the North East and what it has to offer.
“It’s amazing to look back on it all,” added Mr Smith. “What started off as like-minded guys working hard and being in charge of their own destiny, to this company now where we are looking after everyone else’s destiny as well. Each decision we take affects our workers’ lives and we will never stop realising how huge that is and what a responsibility we have to them.”