From warehousing to engineering

What started out as a temporary seasonal job over Christmas, has developed into an engineering career for Danny Ball, Engineering Manager at Gist Thatcham.


Danny joined Gist as a temporary Warehouse Operative in the autumn 20 years ago in the run up to Gist’s peak Christmas period. Initially wanting to train as a carpenter, Danny struggled to find an apprenticeship and was recommended Gist by a relative. “I didn’t have a plan B,” explains Danny. “I got through Christmas and enjoyed the job. By April I was offered a full-time Warehouse Operative role.”


Fast forward four years and an internal job advert for an apprentice Maintenance Fitter changed Danny’s career trajectory. He completed a three-and-a-half year apprenticeship as a Vehicle Engineer and continued to develop within engineering, taking on his current position as Engineering Manager three years ago.


“Alongside a strong and collaborative team, I manage the day to day activity for the vehicle workshop and site maintenance operation, making sure the department is safe, productive and compliance is adhered,” explains Danny.


“I like the ability to make a change. I don’t think people fully understand the engineering department and its functionality, but it’s a fundamental part of the business. Without vehicles being compliant and maintained to a high standard, the transport teams have no fleet, and without procedures and proactive engineering on site, the warehouse could not operate fully. It’s a very rewarding job, you see the difference and improvements around site; it really does make a difference.”


Danny manages a team including a Maintenance Manager, Engineering Administrators, site engineers, vehicle engineers and a workshop apprentice.


Between them they maintain approximately 80 trailers and 75 tractor units at Thatcham that all requiring servicing every six to 12 weeks.


Having started his engineering career as an apprentice, Danny is keen to raise the profile of engineers, both in and outside of Gist.


“It has become more and more difficult to recruit engineers in the current climate, and many businesses lose engineers to the road as many of them decided to leave and become HGV drivers,” says Danny.


“Generally speaking, people often think of light vehicles when entering into engineering, working with HGVs is not always highlighted. Personally, I love working in fleet because you have the benefit of maintaining a large fleet to a high standard and take pride in the fleet appearance and you are assisting a large distribution operation in day to day activity and performance, say compared to an engineer working with cars in the retail market, where you may be working on different vehicles for different individuals. Seeing our trucks on the road is a reflection of the engineer’s hard work and the contribution my team make to the overall business.”


Danny is keen to encourage more people into engineering roles, and is currently supporting an apprentice within his team.


“Gist is very supportive of people development and within engineering, a lot of our workshop staff have progressed to become maintenance and engineering managers. If you have the ability and determination, Gist will give you the chance and the platform to perform.”


Are you interested in working for Gist? We’d love to hear from you. Find out more about our current vacancies here.