In this instalment of our Spotlight series, we meet Mike Winchcombe, workshop supervisor at Rhino Doors. Having worked for the company in its various iterations since 1985, Mike has a unique perspective as a Rhino employee, having witnessed many changes in his nearly-four-decade career. Here, we discuss his time with Rhino and his hopes for its bright future.
Tell us a bit about your professional background and your current role at Rhino Doors.
I started my engineering career back in 1985, working for the former owner of Rhino Doors. Back then, we were a much smaller company, mainly producing doors for local businesses, and my role was to manufacture and fit the doors.
The company’s expansion began when it was purchased by British Steel. We had a new workshop purpose built, albeit much smaller than the one we currently operate from, and I moved into a new role as a door fitter. After eleven years, a back injury took me out of this role and I moved into the workshop to work on the fabrication of the doors.
Although the company has changed hands several times over the years, including ownership by Tata, Rhino has continued to evolve and I moved into a workshop supervisor role in 2001. Now, we manage a very large workshop in Port Talbot and a second facility in Bamber Bridge, near Preston. It’s been a pleasure to see the company grow from a small manufacturer into a multi-million-pound company over the years.
Have you held different roles during your time with the firm?
My role at Rhino has stayed very much the same during my time with the company, but I have a range of duties and responsibilities as part of the wider manufacturing process. From preparing door books for manufacture and negotiating with materials suppliers, to maintaining and servicing workshop machinery, including overhead cranes, forklifts and compressed air vessels, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure our workshop and appliances operate to the highest possible standard.
What made you want to join Team Rhino?
When I was a very young man and just getting on to the employment ladder, I was lucky enough to get an interview with a very young company. Even then, I could see the prospect of this company doing very well and now, 38 years later, the team is going from strength to strength, with an even bigger and brighter future on the horizon. I’ve loved being part of this team and I hope that I can finish my working days in this role at Rhino.
As someone who has been with the company for a number of years, you must have seen some significant changes during that time. Can you talk us through some of those changes?
I’ve witnessed a lot during my time with the company. In the early days, 99% of the doors we manufactured were insulated doors which were a lot lighter and easier to fit. However, after the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001, security became a bigger priority for many of the organisations we work with, and Rhino began to produce SEAP-rated doors – now known as NPSA (formerly CPNI) doors.
We have since designed new personnel doors, as well as folding and sliding/folding doors to the NPSA standard, and many of our doors now fall into the security-rated category. NPSA doors are much heavier, however, and the process of fitting these has had to change to preserve the safety of the team. Health and safety is certainly an area in which Rhino now excels, which is key when dealing with heavier door types.
You’ll have seen lots of projects taking place during your time, too – are there any that stand out to you as particularly memorable or enjoyable?
I’ve seen lots of projects come through our doors, many of which seemed insurmountable at the time due to their size or complexity. From aeroplane hangar doors to horizontal sliding rooftop hatches, Rhino has always delivered due to the skill and expertise of the team.
Our team in the north of England have also worked on some very big projects. One that stands out to me is a suite of doors which were transported to Australia. These doors were made up of two panels and weighed over two tonnes per panel. Once installed, they looked amazing and were a testament to the hard work of the team.
How do you hope to see Rhino Doors, and the wider Engineering Group, continue to grow and evolve over the coming years?
I hope to see the group continuing to grow, as our manufacturing processes improve and become more agile and efficient, and our product range evolves. There’ll be a need to continually update our machinery and facilities to help this happen, but our growing customer base, both in the UK and internationally, points to a clear market for Rhino’s products. I also hope to see the group expanding into different markets and sectors, and using our team’s experience to drive innovation in our product development.
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