30 years ago today, the dream of running a business became a reality – at 8 a.m. on 8th of August 1988, we opened the doors to Amdale for the very first time! Amidst all the preparations and planning we had been busy doing, we didn’t actually notice the pleasing synchronicity of the date we had chosen for this significant event until later – but now, 30 years on, it has become a great date for an anniversary!
Our first morning
Early in the morning of that momentous first day, the excitement of what we had achieved so far was just bursting out of us. Up bright and early, we picked up our first employee, Les, on the way to the factory, bought some tea and coffee and, with that, we were ready for business – and on that very first day, business we did!
Our first order
We had, of course, been wondering where our first order would come from. Luckily, though, we didn’t have to wonder for long – after a few phone calls 30 years ago today to some contacts who supported our venture, I was told by one of them to go to Havant station and collect our first order, £675 of textile jets! Grinning with excitement, I sped off to the station and picked up what turned out to be the first order for a customer that, I’m proud to say, we still work for today! I’d like to thank them, both Reg and Jenni, for the support and help they gave us at that time. Sadly Reg is no longer with us, but what an awesome man he was!
Our first invoice
So that was the first order, but just a few weeks later, on 23rd August, we had the excitement of our first invoice, for a company that produced precision hinges. I remember it well, not only because it was our first invoice and therefore momentous in itself, but also because the method of invoicing was a little unusual: upon collecting the job, the customer sat down and typed the invoice himself on the typewriter that my parents had bought for the company as a start-up present! In fact, that typewriter is actually still here at Amdale, as is the original Fanuc PG programming system that was used for our wire machines back then. Both are now in our reception area as a nostalgic reminder of our first years!
30 years of firsts
As we sat reminiscing in the office this morning, we found ourselves talking about some of the most significant achievements of the last 30 years: we took on our first apprentice in 1989 and said goodbye to our first retiree in 2004; we gained our first quality approval, BS 5750, in 1992 and our first aerospace approval, AS9100, in 2016; and our shop floor grew to include our first CNC milling machine in 1996, first CNC turning centre in 1998 and first 5-axis machining centre in 2004.
On a lighter note, I also found myself thinking of a personal first: in 1997 I turned up at work for the first time having shaved off the final stands of combed-over hair on my head, thus admitting to all the staff that having hair really was a thing of the past! To mark that historic occasion, all the staff lined up outside the factory to greet me upon my bald arrival!
A moment to reflect
Looking back over the last 30 years, there have been a lot of fun times, countless jobs that have come in as drawings and gone out as precision engineered parts, and many challenges along the way that have helped us get to where we are today. Looking to the future, there are yet more exciting challenges ahead, as well as more machines to purchase and, most importantly for me, new engineers to train to take this industry into the future!
By Martin Koerner