For the latest Lord Combustion Services staff profile, we speak to contracts engineer Matthew Smith about his role with the company, his progression in his training and the pleasure he gets from solving engineering challenges.
When did you join Lord Combustion Services and what are the main responsibilities in your role?
I joined Lord Combustion Services in 2019. I have progressed to running my own jobs for the contracts side of the business, taking on more responsibilities for planning labour, generally on some of the smaller projects. I handle reactive requests, organising the labour for the fitters and their projects, with input into the contract meetings. As part of my training I have got used to taking everything from the enquiry stage through to planning the materials, which has given me a good grounding in the business. It is helping me to understand how to go from quoting projects through to running them to completion.
Who do you work with directly in the Lord team?
I work closely with director Mark Chapman, who is teaching me the role and techniques needed. I also work alongside contracts manager Peter Drew and director Emma Tibbetts.
What qualifications or training do you draw upon in the role?
I joined Lord on an apprenticeship, as part of which I have completed my HNC in building services engineering, as well as an NVQ in the same discipline. I enrolled in my bachelor’s degree in building services engineering, which is a three-year course.
What jobs did you have before you joined Lord?
I came to Lord straight from doing A-levels in maths, physics and product design. This is my first job although I did volunteering work with Scouts and Young Leaders.
What is a typical week like in your role with Lord?
I carry out site surveys, quoting for work, planning projects including access needed and deliveries. I also do labour planning to make sure we have got the jobs organised for the entire week. At the end of the month I do the invoicing.
What do you enjoy about working for Lord?
The challenge in working out how things need to be done to meet the client’s needs. Everything is new to me, so I am learning on the job. The experience of going out to all the different sites has allowed me to understand everything involved.
How did Covid impact on your role?
Having started in 2019, Covid impacted on my progression as we were limited in going to sites during the lockdowns. The work also changed as we went from working at schools to focussing on hospitals and health centres.
What is the best bit of advice you would give somebody starting at Lord?
Listen to the experience of the people who have been in the industry longest. Doing this means you can take advantage of their experience. I have always been into engineering from doing maths-based courses at school. I like engineering challenges and the problem solving which has been more stretching than I expected.
What has been the most memorable occasion where you have helped a client?
We were called to site by a client for whom I had recently managed the refurbishment of three plant rooms on an extremely short timescale. In an unrelated area, there was a gas leak which Cadent attended and were intending to isolate leaving the site with no gas utilities. We arranged for our nearest engineer to attend within the hour and take control of the site to allow for our team to arrive and complete emergency repairs and tests. The following day we were back replacing the pipework utilising our pre-fabrication facilities to ensure the downtime did not affect the site at any point. The job was fully resolved within 24 hours due to the fast-paced response of our team. I was with Emma and we had to work quickly to ensure that the site could remain open and operational.
What can be the most challenging parts of the job? How do you address these challenges?
Learning quickly. I had never been in a plant room and had never designed a heating system before so I have learnt a lot. It is stretching to take everything I have learned and putting it into practice.
What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy playing ice hockey. I have also been interested in carpentry and wood turning since I was aged 13. I can make tables, bowls and all kinds of things. I make bespoke work for people which I enjoy.