Spotlight on Team Rhino: Declan Pagett and Lauran Locke 

March 07 2023

With two manufacturing bases in the UK, Rhino Doors is home to many employees working at all levels and across all areas of the business, from project engineers to procurement specialists. To date, we’ve profiled some of the more senior members of the team, but in this latest instalment of our Spotlight series, we meet two apprentices. 

Declan and Lauran have been with Rhino for over two years, and through on-the-job training and support from the wider team, they’ve developed a deep understanding of the engineering sector and their respective fields of work. 

Having joined Rhino in November 2020, Declan is due to complete his three-year apprenticeship in welding at the end of 2023. Lauran’s two-year apprenticeship in Rhino’s finance department commenced in December 2020 and was completed at the end of 2022. 

We caught up with Declan and Lauran to learn more about their experience of undertaking an apprenticeship with Rhino and their ambitions for the future. 

L-R: Lauran Locke and Declan Pagett, two of Rhino Doors’ apprentices.

What were you doing prior to joining Rhino Doors? 

Declan: I was in college, working towards my Level 3 qualification in welding. My college was very supportive in finding me an apprenticeship and they presented me with a couple of different options. Rhino Doors was one of them. I came in for an interview, where I met some of the team and learned more about the company, and I started as a welding apprentice in November 2020. 

Lauran: Before I joined the team, I was finishing school and starting a course in childcare at the local college. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the learning was all virtual and I wasn’t able to get the same experience from the course. I started looking for an apprenticeship so I could get some hands-on experience and I found Rhino Doors. That was over two years ago, and I have now finished my apprenticeship, however I am continuing to receive support for my AAT studies. 

What attracted you to an apprenticeship within an engineering firm like Rhino? 

D: I’d always wanted to work in an engineering firm of some sort. I took engineering as a GCSE course in school and it’s what I enjoyed the most. Through my Level 2 course in mechanical maintenance, I had the opportunity to learn about lots of different areas of engineering, but welding interested me the most, so I decided to pursue it. I completed my Level 3 course in welding and arrived at Rhino to put my education into practice. 

L: For me, it was something completely brand new and that was a big part of what attracted me to the company. I had never heard of the products that Rhino manufactures and that piqued my interest from the start. I was looking for an opportunity to learn and soak up the knowledge and experience of a supportive team.  

Talk us through your day to day. What does the average week in your role look like? 

D: It’s been very busy over the past couple of months, with lots of projects ongoing. The welding and fabrication team is involved at the start of every job, before the doors then make their way along the production line of our workshop. 

Generally, my day starts with setting up the welding equipment and I’ll begin fabricating the doors. I’ve been involved with multiple projects recently, including one for the London Underground, where I did some work on the frames and panels that go on the sides of the doors. My supervisor works on the doors themselves and I support throughout the process. 

L: Alongside my manager, I look after the finances for the company. This means paying suppliers, producing invoices, loading them on to our systems, costing up jobs, and completing payroll. I also use the telephone a lot to ring suppliers, which has really helped develop my communication skills. There are a lot of different elements to my role. 

I had an initial interest, but I’ve learned so much over the past two years. I think on-the-job training is the best way to learn and develop. 

Tell us about the kind of changes you’ve seen during your time with the company. 

D: I joined Rhino at a very busy time and the company has evolved a lot since then. We now produce a wider range of doors, from personnel doors and NPSA (formerly CPNI) doors to fire doors, and we’ve established several new companies, like Rhino Site Systems and Rhino HySafe. This hasn’t impacted on my role, but it’s been good to see growth across the business. 

We’ve also made big improvements in how we work. New machinery, upgraded workshops and improved workflows mean we can design and manufacture doors much quicker, without compromising on quality. Our team has grown too – we have very experienced, knowledgeable people here, which is great from the perspective of learning on the job. 

L: A lot has changed in the past two years, not just in terms of the expansion of Rhino Engineering Group. We also opened a new site in Bamber Bridge, with increased capacity for manufacturing, and this growth has impacted on the work I do in terms of financial administration. I’ve taken on more responsibility, and I want to continue to do so as the business evolves. Everyone who works here is very supportive and I’m lucky to have a great team around me as we grow. 

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt so far at Rhino? 

D: The biggest thing for me is that my overall knowledge of different tools and processes has expanded. Before I arrived at Rhino, I didn’t have much experience of working with power tools or hand tools, apart from limited training in college, so it’s been great to pick up new skills through this apprenticeship and learn what’s required to build a Rhino door. 

The fact that my role is so hands on is great. I never thought I’d be able to do some of the things I now do on a daily basis, so I’m enjoying the process of learning and growing. 

L: My confidence has grown so much since I joined the team. A lot of that is down to my manager, Alison, who’s taught me and trained me. She’s definitely helped to build my confidence. 

When I first started, the idea of taking a phone call was stressful, but it’s been great to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. Dealing with lots of different external stakeholders on a day-to-day basis does mean you have to have skin like a rhino. But with a brilliant culture in place, I’ve been lucky to have lots of supportive colleagues around me to train me and encourage me to succeed. 

How would you like your role to evolve? Where do you see yourself in a few years? 

D: I already feel like a valued member of the team, but I want to continue on this path and bring more value to Rhino. I know my areas for improvement and I’m looking forward to developing my skill set and solidifying my position here. There’s a great team and a great culture at Rhino, and I want to be a part of that. 

Aside from my skills and knowledge, I’d like to grow more in terms of my social skills. Working here has definitely brought me out of my shell and given me more confidence, so in the coming years, I want to continue to develop personally, as well as professionally. 

L: I’d like to take on more responsibilities, relevant to my role, and be here to see the company grow. There’s a lot happening at Rhino at the moment and it’s exciting to see all the plans taking shape. I’m looking forward to seeing the position the company is in in a few years’ time. 

My focus for the time being is to gain more knowledge and experience, gradually taking on more responsibility and working to support the wider team. Everyone is very supportive and invests in you and your learning here, so I’m in the best place to continue to grow. 

Find out more about Team Rhino by reading another of our Spotlight features. Meet Owen Davies, Project Engineer, here and Matt Richards, Project Engineering Director, here.


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