Posted by: Aimee McCracken

Morgan, man about Machines

A blog post by Morgan Walker – Product Support & Development Team Leader

I’ve been in my current role at Smiley Monroe for nearly a year now, having joined the Giants of Belting back in 2012, two years after leaving school. Growing up around construction equipment and heavy machinery in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, meant all things mechanical was in my blood from an early age!

It was my mechanical background that led me to my first job as an apprentice in the material processing sector with a company that carried out engineering work on crushing and screening equipment. I really enjoyed working in quarries and learning how these machines worked, which gave me a real taste for the industry.

Fast forward a year to April 2012 when I began working for Smiley Monroe, after spotting a job vacancy within their Site Service team based in Omagh. The job description for an ‘on-site conveyor belt vulcaniser’ caught my eye, as it sounded very hands-on and involved working with machines again. So I applied and I was lucky enough to be selected for an interview at Smiley Monroe’s headquarters in Lisburn. I remember that I was really impressed with the look of the company, and happily the interview went well. It was exciting starting a new job, but I was also nervous, as I understood a bit about conveyor belt vulcanising, but I’d no idea how to do it!

After 7 weeks intensive training I was ready to join the 3 man team based in Omagh, but I had no idea what would happen next…Out of the blue at the end of that year, just before Christmas, we heard that a team was needed to go to Canada in the new year. Of course I put my name forward and on the 2nd January 2013 I set off to Canada for 5 weeks with my colleague Marcin, a very experienced vulcaniser. I’d never been to Canada, so it was a brilliant opportunity. Looking back, this was to be the first of many trips abroad with Smiley Monroe. It’s safe to say that Canadian winters are something else. Average temperatures plunge to -26 degrees celsius with a wind chill factor of -40 degrees celsius. Despite the cold, we managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing at the weekends and I’ll never complain about Fermanagh winters again!

It wasn’t too long before I progressed from operative to team leader, which involved organising the workload for a small team of 3, ensuring that we delivered to the customer just-in-time (JIT). The main thing I learned from being a team leader was the importance of prioritisation. This skill served me well in my next challenge – leading a team of 10 in the fitting of original conveyor belts to new machines in factories and servicing end users’ conveyor belts in a wide range of industries such as quarrying, recycling and road construction all over the island of Ireland. This was a brilliant experience, getting to see the conveyors and the belts in action. My previous mechanical knowledge proved handy at this time when it came to fitting other Smiley Monroe products, like impact modules and conveyor belt cleaners.

From team leader I was promoted to Site Service Manager, which meant I had to develop my skills on the administrative side of the business – pricing jobs, sales monitoring, etc. Some of the highlights from my years in Site Service were working underground, overseeing a large on-site job which lasted four weeks and manning our stand at my first trade fair – the Construction and Quarry Machinery Show (CQMS’17) in Ireland, alongside many of our local OEM customers.

Late in 2017 a position arose within our product support team, which I couldn’t let pass me by. I’d gained invaluable experience and accumulated a lot of knowledge in my four and a half years in Site Service, which I’d thoroughly enjoyed, but I was keen to learn more about all our products and their applications. This new role providing technical support to our global customers would give me that opportunity to continue learning and it would also involve a fair bit of travel, which is something I really enjoy.

I’ve now been in my role in the product support team for almost a year and I’m loving it. It’s already taken me right across Europe – from England, Germany and Austria to the Czech Republic and Poland – visiting customers’ sites to troubleshooting, going on trade missions, to developing new business and supporting our sales and marketing teams at industry trade fairs like Hillhead and the up and coming Bauma Germany 2019, the world’s biggest machinery show!  Travelling and meeting customers is definitely the highlight of my role. Working with them to come up with innovative solutions is extremely satisfying.

Morgan

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