J & E Hall service director Peter McAllister, who has retired after working for the company after 34 years, says shared values and the enjoyment of mixing with talented people have made his career a memorable one.
Peter began his career as an apprentice with J & E Hall and he was employed in various roles in the organisation before he was appointed service director in 2007. On leaving this position he takes with him the satisfaction of seeing the service division flourish in a changing industry.
“Right from the start I never felt I was just an employee,” he explained. “I’ve always felt valued at J & E Hall. It’s like working for a large family business. We have a lot of very experienced people employed in the company and with that comes a huge amount of shared knowledge.”
J & E Hall, one of the world’s foremost refrigeration solution providers, has a proud pedigree of supporting young people through apprenticeships. Peter was one of 32 mechanical engineering apprentices who joined the company in 1979 and from that group he is now the only one still employed at J & E Hall.
His four-year apprenticeship began in the workshop, he then became a fitter where he gained experience of building compressors and since those early beginnings his career has led him to many different areas of the refrigeration industry.
On gaining his stripes as a fully-fledged employee he moved from the fitting shop to the service division as a mobile service engineer and then on to becoming a project engineer within the service department.
In 1989 he left J & E Hall to work in sales for chiller supplier Coolmation before returning two years later. He opened and ran the new J & E Hall office in Milton Keynes heading up regional service support and in doing so growing the business in size to six engineers. Six years on, as his career progressed, he left the company to work as a regional projects manager on refrigeration installations large and small mainly in the food processing and logistics industry.
In 2004 he returned to J & E Hall to become the Derby-based regional service manager, he then took on the J & E Hall general manager role before, in 2007, he was appointed the service director for the company’s UK operation.
During his time in the job service division turnover doubled. The post involves managing more than 100 employees and he said: “It could be challenging at times but it was a great opportunity for me and the role proved to be very rewarding.”
Morrisons, Lidl, the Co-Op and Heineken feature among the major brands Peter has worked with in the food and drink sectors. Primarily industrial refrigeration, Peter and his team ensured that refrigeration systems installed by J & E Hall ran efficiently and effectively on a day to day basis.
In 2008 he reinstated the apprenticeship scheme and, having been an apprentice himself, understands the importance of this in career development and to the industry as a whole as it looks to attract new blood: “Since 2008 40-plus apprentices have now come through the service division and that’s something I’m very proud of.”
Married with three grown-up children, Peter (59) aims to spend six months away from work. He hopes to tour Canada and make the most of his new-found free time to enjoy running, cycling and cooking but he has not ruled out returning to J & E Hall in the future in a part-time capacity: “I believe I have knowledge and expertise that I can share.”
At this time of great change in cooling as we edge forwards to a low carbon society he describes the challenges that lay ahead as a “moving feast”. He said: “J & E Hall has been working with ammonia and CO2 for many years. With their zero-ozone depleting credentials both are fantastic refrigerants for the future. Ammonia has always been a specialisation for us – and I don’t see this changing.”
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