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An interview with the Technical Team

Whether you frequently arrange for steel be galvanized, or have yet to consider hot dip galvanizing for steel, it’s important to make sure you understand the process and what to look out for when choosing a galvanizing service provider.

We interviewed Mike Worth, Head of Technical and ESG, to find out all about his expertise with the galvanizing industry, what makes Joseph Ash a great place for high-quality galvanizing, and points for customers to be aware of when booking work in for galvanizing.

Can you give us an overview of your role?

As Head of Technical & ESG, I am responsible for supporting the plants with ensuring both the chemistry of process tanks, and the metallurgy of the galvanizing baths, are operated within given parameters. This is to ensure a consistently high level of product performance and quality is achieved. The Technical department offers guidance on legislative and standard changes and provides technical advice – both internally and externally – regarding the design, processing and quality of products sent for galvanizing.

The department is also responsible for managing the business’ environmental and energy management systems and its transition to a Net Zero future. The department assists with project management support within these areas, where existing equipment is replaced or new technology is installed.  

What should customers be aware of when looking to galvanize their steel?

Steel composition

It’s important to ensure that the steel supplied is suitable for galvanizing. When specifying or sourcing steel for fabrications, the steel supplier should be made aware that the steel will be galvanized and supply accordingly. This should be plain carbon, low alloy steels. Where high strength, hardened/cold-worked or high alloy steels are specified, the galvanizer must be consulted at the design stage to ensure any potential concerns can be addressed at the earliest possible stage.

Steel condition

The pre-treatment stage of the galvanizing process involves thorough cleaning of the steel to remove light oils/greases, rust and scale. This allows the characteristic coating growth synonymous with hot dip galvanizing. Whilst robust, this cleaning process cannot remove all potential contaminants that can be present on fabricated steelwork. Paints, wax crayon, labels and weld anti-spatter that is not water-soluble are examples of products that will not be removed by normal processing. Where these products are used, they should be ground off prior to sending material for galvanizing to prevent uncoated areas during the process.

Another common problem can be laser or flame cut edges. The heat-affected zone created by these processes has a dissimilar chemistry to that of the main body of steelwork which can create a very thin (unreactive) coating with poor adhesion. These areas should also be ground prior to sending material for galvanizing. 

Design

The steel’s design should also be considered. This includes:

  • Dimensions – Can the material fit in the bath? Will it need to be double-dipped?
  • Weight – Is the work too heavy for cranes or FLTs?
  • Venting and drainage – Have sufficient venting and drain holes been placed? Can the steel be dipped safely, with all internal areas suitably vented to allow air to escape and process chemicals and zinc to drain?
  • How will the work be suspended by the cranes – are there suitable lifting points for the lifting equipment?
  • Section size – No part of the fabrication should be more than 2.5x the thickness of any other, as this can cause distortion as the heat transfer of these sections will be different.

We have a venting tips and tricks poster to help our customers with designing their steel for galvanizing.

How does Joseph Ash take pride in the quality of their galvanizing?

I have, on a number of occasions, been asked by existing and potential customers to comment on the quality of galvanizing by another supplier. I take great pride in the extensive work that both myself, the department, and colleagues with a technical aspect to their role have completed to refine the chemistry and metallurgy of our processes and deliver a high standard of coating finish. In my experience, this level of finish is not achieved by other galvanizers.

Hot dip galvanizing has traditionally been an industrial corrosion protection system, where aesthetics were once a secondary consideration. Through our work we are able to not only deliver a product which performs to the highest expectations of corrosion resistance and durability but also with an aesthetic that is incredibly pleasing.

Why is quality important when looking for a galvanizer?

Industry standards

BS EN ISO1461 states a certain level of product quality must be achieved for general hot dip batch galvanizing to be supplied to the marketplace. The coating must be continuous, with no bare areas that would corrode if not repaired. It must also be relatively smooth, with no sharp edges or zinc build-up that could cause harm or prevent the article from being installed or used. The coating must also be above the specified minimum mean coating thicknesses detailed within the standard. 

Installation and use

Steel articles that come for galvanizing are products. The design is critical for ensuring these products are suitable to install and use by our customers and end clients. If the galvanizing process is not considered at the design stage, a product could be returned with zinc build-up on critical faces (i.e. plates that are bolted together), meaning the product cannot be installed. Hole tolerances/threaded components also may not be usable after galvanizing. A product may have to be suspended a certain way through the process, leading to holes being required on visible faces which reduces the aesthetic appeal of the product.

How does the quality of the galvanized finish impact the steel’s lifespan?

If the galvanizer is consulted early on in a product’s design phase, the product can be designed suitably based on considerations regarding steel composition and condition. If the galvanizer pays particular attention to their process chemistry and bath metallurgy then hot dip galvanizing can last, maintenance free, for decades. In some cases, it can last for over a century.

Where these considerations are not given – for example, if the galvanizer skips or rushes stages of the process; or doesn’t operate within parameters – there will be areas on uncoated or under-coated steel. These areas will corrode prematurely, resulting in additional maintenance. In worse cases, articles may need to be disassembled to be reprocessed or replaced. This becomes an expensive and time-consuming task for the customer. That’s why it’s important to make sure your galvanizer understands the important of good quality control and is equipped and able to deliver this.

How does Joseph Ash maintain high standards for quality and stay ahead in the industry?

Joseph Ash operate a high level of factory production control. All stages of the chemical pre-treatment are analysed fortnightly – and the bath metallurgy analysed monthly – using chemical titration and optical emission spectrometry. These processes are then adjusted accordingly to remain within optimum parameters at all times. On top of this, the business operates a Quality Management System certified to ISO 9001 to ensure our quality aspects and impacts are assessed and controlled accordingly.

The business is a member of the UK Galvanizers’ Association and I myself sit on the Technical Committee. This allows us to keep abreast of any upcoming industry risks and have input into standards development. We not only have high standards in the Technical arena but also Health & Safety and Environmental considerations. We are certified to both ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 to manage all of our business risk and impacts, both internally to our colleagues and externally to customers, contractors and the local communities we operate in. 

Any extra advice for anyone who may be reading?

Consult with your galvanizer as early and as often as possible regarding design and specifying products for galvanizing.

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Joseph Ash Galvanizing takes health and safety seriously; we hold numerous policies dedicated to health and safety compliance. To make sure we maintain these regulations, we need someone in charge of our Health and Safety department. This is where David Hull, Head of Health and Safety comes in!

We interviewed David Hull and found out a bit about him and his role at Joseph Ash.

Meet David Hull:

Role: Head of Health and Safety

Branch: Head Office

Favourites:

Food: I love to try local cuisines while travelling but at home I love a good pizza.

Film: Big movie fan but my favourite is probably Forest Gump – “Run Forest Run”.

Pastime: Running.

Can you give a brief overview of your role?

David Hull

I am Head of Health and Safety, reporting to the Managing Director. As part of my role, I provide strategic guidance and direction for the Company, and hands-on support for our 10 locations across the UK. I’m responsible for the development and support of 12 Health and Safety practitioners of various levels.

The role involves driving continuous improvements through regular engagement with General Managers and the Health and Safety team, conducting a variety of subject matter inspections, audits, assessments and reviews of incident investigations, trend analysis and action plan reviews. I also assess and review business risks and challenges, and offer pragmatic solutions to ensure the business keeps moving effectively and efficiently.

Can you give us some history on your career?

I’ve been in Health and Safety for 28 years, working across a variety of industries from logistics, FMCG, mining and oil and gas. I have worked in Jordan, Germany, Belgium and Oman. 

What drew you to the company?

The industry has always attracted me, and with a success story dating back over 165 years I thought I’d look into what the Company does. When I saw how seriously you take health and safety, I figured this could be a good business to be a part of.   

What are your health and safety goals for the plants?

I want to take the plants from reactive-based safety to behavioural-based; this not only reduces incidents but can improve operational efficiencies.

What types of health and safety projects are on the horizon that you can talk about?

There are lots of changes to make to the management system. These include simplifying risk assessments and safe systems of work, creating dynamic risk assessment, and improving our control of contractors.

Tell us something that people might find surprising about you.

I have run several Ultra Marathons around the world. My wife and I love to travel but I usually try to plan a sneaky race while we are away. The races can take anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours.

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Another new face to the Joseph Ash Group, keen to introduce themselves! Paul Williams has joined our team at Widnes Galvanising as Maintenance Manager for the branch. We took the chance to speak with Paul in our latest ‘Meet the Team’ and find out all about him and his new role.

Meet Paul Williams:

Role: Maintenance Manager

Branch: Widnes

Started: 2023

Favourites:

Food: Love a Chinese banquet

Film: A good action film like the John Wick series is always a winner (I was lucky enough to use the Kiltech shot gun from the film while in the States). I’m also a big F1 fan and love watching the race on weekends.

Pastime: I try and keep fit, attending my local Men’s Hub facility in Warrington 3-4 times a week, running and cycling now and then. I also enjoy meals out with my wife and kids, and long beach walks with our border collie Rosy.

Can you give a brief overview of your role?

My role as Maintenance Manager is to keep production running smoothly. I liaise with contractors, management, and staff to keep the daily operations of the plant working as they should. Basically, if it breaks, it’s my job to fix it.

Can you give us some history on your career?

My previous job was as an electrical contractor working on all manner of sites, from hospitals to petrochemical sites. This came to an end in 2009 when I took up a maintenance role for another galvanizing company, which was my introduction to the galvanizing industry.

What drew you to the company?

I saw the job advertised at Joseph Ash and saw there was potential to grow, improve and challenge myself in my first management role. I love a challenge and felt that my skillset very much matched the job advertised, and I wanted to progress.

What is your favourite/most memorable project to date?

Being so new to the company I’m just starting to get my teeth into our first round of improvement works over Easter. I actually enjoy the planning stages and seeing the various works come together to reach the common goal.

What projects are you looking forward to in the coming year?

I’m generally looking forward to improving the site, how we operate, working as part of a larger team and increasing production.

Tell us something that people might find surprising about you.

People normally double take when I tell them I’m a professional wrestler (WWE style) and have worked on shows up and down the country. I have also been lucky enough to wrestle internationally in Belgium, Australia and the United States. I even had a small part in the Hollywood movie “Fighting With My Family”, starring The Rock.

I’ve also completed a few marathons – one ultra marathon and a century bike ride (not on the same day though!). I also help coach a local football under 16 team (Cromwell Thunderbolts) which my son plays for too, so I’m quite busy generally.

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We’re shining a light on Jessica Ramanouski, Office & Sales Administrator, as the latest face to join our Widnes Galvanising branch. We hope our current (and future) customers will look forward to interacting with Jess in the coming months!

Meet Jessica Ramanouski:

Role: Office & Sales Administrator

Branch: Widnes

Started: February 2023

Can you give a brief overview of your role at the company?

I am brand new to the company, being here just over a month. I have a dual role of Office & Sales Administrator. I am learning new ways of inputting information and data, as well as learning about galvanizing in general. I am also dealing with supplier queries, which has introduced me to the financial side of the company.

Jessica Ramanouski

As well as the admin side, I have started to work with our Commercial Manager, Gavin. Gavin is teaching me the sales part of the company and I am working alongside him to improve our techniques and find new customers.

What was your history before joining the company?

When I finished school, I did an apprenticeship in Business Administration. I worked in a forklift training centre for seven months and loved every minute of it. Due to my age, I decided to complete my A-Levels to save complications with funding as I got older. After this, I spent four years at Liverpool Hope University studying for a BA in History & Media and Communication, and an MA in History. During this time, I worked for a supermarket as a Team Leader, and also qualified as a makeup artist.

I met amazing people and learnt many transferrable skills. I enjoyed my time there; however, I was always yearning for a graduate job where I could put my knowledge and skills to good use. So, you can imagine my happiness when I got this job. I felt like I was coming full circle, starting this job exactly 10 years after my apprenticeship.

What drew you to the company?

Widnes Galvanising is a local business to me. It’s where my dad worked when I was a child, and my little brother is currently a manager here in the production office. I heard a lot of positive things about the company and people after it had been taken over by Joseph Ash. I did some research and liked the sound of the ethics and eco-friendliness of the company so I decided to apply.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

I’m looking forward to working with new people and developing an ever-growing customer base. I’m also looking forward to getting more involved in sales and marketing, and developing my knowledge.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I am a huge fan of makeup and the art of drag. I am a qualified makeup artist and I will often have a face full of makeup on, including rhinestones. I am obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race and when I am not in work, I will spend time binging episodes. 

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Apprenticeships are a valuable achievement, whether you’re newly out of school, or if you have years of working experience already behind you. For National Apprenticeship Week 2023, we decided to interview one of our current apprentices, Matthew Phillips for our latest ‘Meet the team’ article. Matthew is a Customer Service Manager at our Chesterfield branch. He started his Level 3 Team Leader course in June 2022, and has been with Joseph Ash since 2007.

Tying into this year’s theme of Skills for Life, we decided to ask him all about his apprenticeship experience, and learn about how he’s been able to progress his career.

Meet Matthew Phillips:

Role: Customer Service Manager

Branch: Chesterfield

Apprenticeship: Team Leader (Level 3)

Started: 2007 (at Joseph Ash) / June 2022 (apprenticeship)

Matthew Phillips

Can you give us a brief overview of your current role at the company?

“I started at Joseph Ash in 2007 as a Customer Service Manager and my Team Leader apprenticeship in 2022. I’m due to finish my course in about six month’s time.

“As Customer Service Manager, I’m responsible for managing key accounts and day-to-day contact with customers. I have over 15 years’ experience in the industry, building key relationships with customers and clients. I help produce formal quotations, assist with production and transport requirements, and manage existing projects and provide site tours and visits.”

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship, and how has it impacted your career?

“I wanted to do an apprenticeship to further my training and knowledge. The training has been very useful in my development as a manager. The course has covered a wide range of topics, providing me with skills I can use within my role. This has helped me achieve my sales targets and develop my operational and project skills.

“The best thing I’ve learnt during my apprenticeship is gaining an understanding of the impact of unconscious bias and emotional intelligence.

“I’m looking forward to developing my team and managing more projects in the coming year. I’m more equipped to do these thanks to the skills I’ve learnt in my apprenticeship.”

Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in completing an apprenticeship?

“Enjoy the training, and use the information provided within your role.”

When asked about his interests outside of his apprenticeship and career, Matthew commented:

“I’m a very sporty person and enjoy playing football and running. I play for two football teams on a Saturday and Sunday, and support Derby County (best team in the East Midlands). I also enjoy spending my spare time with family and friends, and going out for nice food and drinks. When using my holidays, I like travelling the world seeing different cultures and going on new adventures.”

“Believe it or not I’ve once appeared on a TV soap called Peak Practice when I was younger.”

Contact Joseph Ash Galvanizing today if you’re looking for you next career step or any apprenticeship opportunities!

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In October 2022, Joseph Ash Ltd acquired Widnes Galvanising, which became the ninth plant for the Group. We thought this would be a good opportunity to interview Widnes’ Commercial Manager, Gavin Jones in our latest ‘Meet the team’ article to find out a bit about him and what his plans are for the division.

Meet Gavin Jones:

Role: Commercial Manager

Branch: Widnes

Started: 2015

Favourites:

Food: Anything Asian (Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Vietnamese etc.)

Film: Step Brothers. I have a very immature sense of humour and this is right down my street!

Pastimes: Football. I’ve always played football and used to play for Saturday and Sunday football teams, but when you get older and have kids you don’t have the time anymore. However, I still play indoor football every Wednesday evening with my mates, which remains a highlight of my week.

Gavin Jones

Can you give us some history on your career?

“I’ve been a Commercial Manager since June 2020 but have been with Joseph Ash since May 2015. I previously held the position of Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality Manager at the Telford branch.

“Before Joseph Ash, I worked as a salesperson for a medical equipment supplier. I travelled all over the UK but decided to find a position closer to home when my wife was pregnant with our first child.

“I lived in Telford at the time a ‘Management Trainee’ position became available at the Telford branch. After meeting with Stuart Whitehouse, Stuart Cobourne and Tracie Lockley at the interview stage, I could tell it was the kind of company I wanted to work for.”

Can you give us an overview of your day-to-day?

“In my current role as Commercial Manager at Widnes Galvanising it is my responsibility to ensure the division secures sufficient sales revenue to achieve our targets.

“My day-to-day tasks include customer analysis, prospecting, and quoting all enquiries.

“Aside from the sales side of the role, I often refer to myself as a kind of project manager as I am the link between our customers, production and transport. I also spend many days on the road visiting customers for all kinds of reasons, such as advice on their designs and discussing pricing.

“This year I am getting far more involved with the overall running of the business.”

What are your goals for the Widnes plant?

“My goal is to grow the business and increase our weekly tonnages by 20% while maintaining the excellent turnaround times and service. The quality of Joseph Ash’s galvanizing has always been first class, so I’m hopeful that new customers will see the benefit of using Widnes Galvanising going forward.”

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

“I’m a massive foodie and I’m always trying new recipes when cooking at home. I worked as a chef in a pub kitchen, and an Indian restaurant whilst I was at university. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of opening my own restaurant one day.”

If you’d like to get in touch with Gavin at Widnes Galvanising to discuss your hot dip galvanizing requirements, you can reach him at gavinj@josephash.co.uk.

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