What do a tractor, a nuclear power station and a Bugatti all have in common?
No, this isn’t a brain-teaser or a bad joke … the answer is that they have all had precision gears made for them by Edgerton Gears. Who knew?! Not us. To find out more we dragged Edgerton owner, Graham Barrett, away from his machinery for 10 minutes to get to know him and the company a bit better.
Q. When did you start the business?
A. After leaving school aged 18 I joined the family business, R & B Engineering, and started learning on the job. I actually haven’t got any formal engineering qualifications – I learnt it all from my dad and over 35 years of experience.
Sadly, my dad died suddenly one Christmas holiday and overnight everything changed. I went back into work and, having no real business experience, I had to start a new company, Edgerton Gears, and learn fast. That was 24 years ago and I’ve been learning ever since.
Q. How many people do you employ?
A. It can vary but three at the moment. It takes a specific skill set to work in precision engineering and all the guys have been with me a very long time, one over 25 years.
Q. What is your biggest achievement at work?
My biggest achievement is managing to continue with the business after my father died with no business training or experience. We had a really big job on that my father was overseeing. It was a tricky job and was required ASAP. On returning to work after the Christmas holiday and explaining to the customer what had happened, he promptly said he was sorry for my loss and in the next breath asked when they could have the job. That’s when I knew it was sink or swim.
Also, after the bank crash in 2008 we lost 80% of our work to China just about overnight and we had to start again. After that we built up slowly doing lots more precision engineering, whereas before the focus had been mainly gear cutting.
Q. What makes Edgerton different?
A. The quality of our work. That’s what I’m most proud of – we do turn out some really good stuff. We all have exceptional attention to detail and between us we’ve got more than 75 years’ experience, so we know what we’re doing.
Q. What are you asked to make the most?
A. Honestly, it can be anything. From a gear the size of your thumbnail or a pin for an agricultural tractor to critical components that go into nuclear power stations. If it needs a part we can make it – we’ve supplied to the mining and textile industries, for trains and even a prototype MRI scanner. A lot go on valve actuators in the oil and gas industry too.
Q. What’s your favourite part of the working day?
A. Probably after everyone has gone and I can concentrate on a job I’m working on. It’s good to have the satisfaction of a finished job.
Q. Brew of choice?
A. Sparkling water. One of the lads brought a bottle in years ago and I thought I’ll try some of that and then got into it. The other guys all have tea though.
Q. Where do you supply gears to?
A. We mostly supply to British companies, but we have made gears for businesses all over the world, including Australia and the Far East. We even made some gears for the engine of a one-off Bugatti that was being made from a set of drawings by the Bugatti museum.