Start it up
Back in 1993, a 19-year-old Gerry Buckley decided to quit his motor mechanic apprenticeship and join his brothers in working at local trade aluminium window and door fabricator, A Plus Aluminium.
“I was almost at the end of my apprenticeship too,” laughs Gerry. “But the wage was just too tempting so I jumped ship.” Watford-based A Plus Aluminium was an attractive proposition for local lad, Gerry. “My two brothers already worked there so I knew them to be a good employer and if I’d have stopped to think about it, I would have noticed the opportunities for personal development, but at 19, it was all about the money!”
Gerry started out on the factory floor, crimping. He then worked his way through the various sections, gaining valuable experience in all areas of fabrication.
“I was then promoted to main sawman – I was tasked with cutting the profile for all the windows and doors for that week’s production. It was a big jump up with added responsibility,” says Gerry.
“I spent many years in this role before serendipity intervened; my brother left the company, and this freed up one of the respected skilled roles – the specialist window maker. At that time, we were doing big volumes of bay windows and special shapes like portholes. It was an important role, and I learnt a lot about technique and what you can achieve with aluminium.”
Gerry’s first experience of management came when he was appointed charge hand for the cut and prep section. “I was very lucky, I had good guys in my team so while the responsibility was challenging, the role itself was very rewarding,” he says.
By this time, A Plus Aluminium had firmly established itself as a specialist trade supplier for both the residential and commercial markets. The company had reached capacity in Watford and needed to expand production.
“I was tasked with setting up an additional fabrication plant and team in Harpenden,” continues Gerry. “It was just at the point when aluminium bi-fold doors were taking off – very quickly, our team were dedicated to fabricating these products.
“Harpenden was a real confidence boost,” he continues. “I’d been with A Plus probably 20 years by this point, and I felt ready for a new challenge. Away from Watford, I didn’t have the luxury of nipping into the office next door to ask a question, I had to learn fast, managing the day-to-day running of a factory as well as dealing with the associated business needs such as HR and logistics.”
Following another relocation, driven by the need for even more space, Gerry’s service, commitment and experience were rewarded as he was asked to head up the opening of a new dedicated residential fabrication plant and storage facility in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
“It was an empty shell and massive,” says Gerry. “We needed everything – electrics, airlines, machinery, racking…It was a big job, but I relished it. The faith and trust that Steve and Jon (co-directors of A Plus) put in me is hugely flattering. As Sandy factory manager it was also down to me to use my knowledge and experience to organise the production flow and ensure everything was set-up just right.”
That was just over three years ago. Today, A Plus Midlands, as the Sandy factory is now known, is committed to producing aluminium windows, doors, bi-folds and patio doors for the company’s trade residential customers.
“With ample storage and racking, we can now offer a competitive residential trade stock service which supports fast lead times and lower costs on eight window and door products.
“I am immensely proud of what I have achieved in my 30 years with A Plus and I am grateful for the opportunities they continue to provide. It’s a rewarding industry which is ever evolving, with new products and technology. I urge anyone to consider a career in fenestration,” concludes Gerry.