The following, written by Richard Dean, appears in the April/ May issue of Aluminium Times.
“My first full time job aged 18 was at Foseco International Limited and the job was as a Metallurgical Technician. My school careers officer had no idea what it was but told me I should go along and find out.
Almost from day one I was working with molten metals: copper, iron, steel, zinc and of course aluminium, which became my favourite. The mid Seventies were a great time for innovation and R&D, and having returned to the industry having joined MQP, I see many of the products that were developed at that time: Sivex, Coverals, Insural, Adals and rotary degassing units.
It was when I was working for a Japanese graphite producer that I had a chance meeting at an exhibition in Turkey, where MQP was exhibiting, with the MD John Courtenay. We had known each other in Foseco days but had not actually worked together. Sometime during our conversation he basically offered me a job and I accepted. I can honestly say that in the last 14 months there has not really been a typical day, and my first day was not what I expected at all.
John asked me to arrive at the office around 9:30 and then the plan was to have some training and induction, but when I arrived I found John rushing backwards and forwards between offices trying to arrange an urgent shipment of Refinal flux to a major European customer. They had asked for twenty tonnes to be delivered the next day because the then current supplier had failed to deliver. In the event MQP delivered the next day. It was at that point I found out how flexible and fast-working MQP was, and is to this day. The following week was the Aluminium 2014 exhibition in Düsseldorf, a show which is the major showcase for MQP and its products. After only a few days working for MQP I was thrust into this limelight as the new International Sales Manager.
I’ve been travelling really since I started working, and as the job title implies most of this is out of the UK. This means trains, planes, automobiles and the occasional bicycle! I’m not a real fan of flying and have had to experience several aborted landings and one terrifying aborted take-off in the course of my travel. In all the air miles I’ve done I’ve only ever missed one flight by my own mistake. It was when returning via Amsterdam (with the boss) that we found two flights back to Birmingham with same departure time. It was said to be delayed and so we went for something to eat. When we returned to the gate we found we had looked at the wrong flight. Oh well, another night in a hotel.
“It must be so wonderful to be able to see parts of the world most people don’t” is the comment I get from people I meet for the first time and they find out what I do for a living. For sure it’s a great experience, but when you have to wake up a 3:30 am for an early Frankfurt flight to get a connection to wherever and end up in a casthouse until 10 pm at night, the glamour is somehow not there. The inside of most casthouses looks and feels the same and that’s how I describe it to people. Just pick up your own place of work and put it in another country, somewhere you probably don’t speak the language, and do your job for a day. This can be challenging, but also very rewarding when the job is finished, the trial has been successful and the contract is in your hand. That’s why I do what I do.
Working at MQP is like going back in time in terms of the philosophy of the company. This is because the MQP team, which includes John Courtenay, Clive Johnson, Barry Lightfoot, Michael Bryant, and me, all have many years of valuable experience gained whilst working at Foseco. This gives us a real sense of innovation and the need to push the technical boundaries, but mainly to supply our industry with technical solutions that work and make a difference in the casthouse. We are working hard on a new metal filtration product that aims to combine grain refinement and filtration whilst not taking up too much space or holding metal. Our Batchpilot equipment is proving to be a vital tool in the measurement of casting heel and instrumental in providing greater productivity in the casthouse. The introduction of Optifine high efficiency grain refiner into many more casthouses has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my first year. The fact that we have been able to reduce a casthouses’ metal treatment costs, improve the quality of the final casting and, in some cases, allow them to find new markets, has been a real success story. 2015 proved to be a landmark year for MQP when, for the very first time, we exceeded our very optimistic sales targets for two of the main products in the MQP range whilst expanding our customer base into hitherto uncharted regions.
When I’m not travelling I can pursue some hobbies that I have, namely walking in our local park (they were once the hunting grounds of King Henry VIII) and now I have my new Nikon D3500 in hand to pursue my photography hobby. At home I like to shut myself away in the music room and try to play guitar. I have an old Fender acoustic and a Strat copy – occasionally the family even recognises the tunes I’m playing! Of course none of this is possible without the support of my family, to whom I’m grateful for putting up with all my time away and all the times I forget to call home. On the plus side, returning home to Sutton Coldfield is always a great pleasure”.
Richard, plus Nikon, walking in the woods at his local park