After finishing his apprenticeship in mechanical fitting and welding at Star's manufacturing facility in Glasgow, Brian Greig decided to retrain as an industrial refrigeration engineer. He then transferred to the service and maintenance side of the business where he has been working for the last fourteen years. As an operations engineer, Brian now services some of the systems he helped build. His extensive knowledge of refrigeration systems allows him to foresee any potential issues and solve them before they cause downtime.
I stayed on at high school to carry out a higher in craft and design, then I began working for Star Refrigeration where I spent my first year at East Kilbride training centre carrying out an NVQ level 2 in mechanical fitting. I also attended North Glasgow college on day release to begin an NC in mechanical engineering. I then began working towards an NVQ level 3 in mechanical fitting through work place assessment and continued at college throughout my apprenticeship, gaining an HNC in mechanical engineering.
What is your current job title?
My current role within Star is as Refrigeration Service Engineer
How did you start working at Star?
I applied for the job while I was still at school.
My dad has been working for Star for over 45 years and he is now preparing for retirement. As a refrigeration engineer he travelled to various places around the world and this is what attracted me to job. Every day is different- new sites, new issues and new plants. This keeps the job interesting and you never stop learning.
Star Refrigeration also had a great reputation as a good company to work for i.e. looked after staff as one big family.
Describe your apprenticeship with Star?
Star Refrigeration are a very training orientated company, making sure employees are able to meet all of our customers’ needs whilst fulfilling the needs of the staff who wish to progress. All of our engineers receive a very high standard of training both in house and through external educational partners.
Did you do any further studying after your initial apprenticeship/qualification?
Although I have not done any further high level education, I have received a lot of on the job training and job specific courses including F gas, Ammonia handling electrical/PLC controls and SMSTS (Site Manager Safety Training Scheme) Health and Safety which is an extremely important area of training at Star.
What role did you move into after your apprenticeship/training?
After my apprenticeship I continued in my role as a mechanical fitter at our head office in Glasgow. This is one of our manufacturing facilities where we build the refrigeration package units. I was trained in pipe fitting and welding and was involved in the pressure testing of vessels and completed package units.
In 2005, I got the opportunity to move over to the service department and have now been there for 14 years. It has been a steep learning curve for me but with the help of management and our great team of engineers it has been a fantastic experience. This was always the side of the company that I wanted to work in. I get to directly support our customers’ businesses and ensure the level of service we provide is second to none. I also enjoy traveling, I have been over to France on a couple of occasions and often get the chance to help out our service and maintenance teams at different branches across the UK.
I am now a service and maintenance engineer working out of the Bellshill branch and offer maintenance support for some of the UKs biggest supermarkets, pharmaceutical companies and food suppliers. The biggest difference between this role and my previous role is that the hours can be unsociable at times but you get a lot more job satisfaction as customers express their gratitude when you get their plants back up and running.
How does your role benefit your customers?
Working at our manufacturing facilities has certainly giving me an in-depth understanding of how the refrigeration systems work. I was involved in the building of some of the plants that I now service which enables me to foresee potential issues with machinery and solve them before they become a problem.
Moving to the service side of the business has also helped me develop personally. I was very quiet and lacked self-confidence. Through having constant contact with customers - sometimes in very high pressure situations- and resolving situations that are critical to the successful running of their business operations, I have now become a much more confident and self-assured person.
What do you enjoy most about your job and what are the biggest challenges you face?
I really enjoy being my own boss as I can spend a lot of the time working on my own. If you work hard at getting the knowledge and skills required to work as a refrigeration engineer during the first few years, then everything comes into place. The main challenge is keeping the plants running smoothly at all times in order to protect customers from plant failure while ensuring they are well informed and up to date with any developments.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
There have been various career highlights throughout my time with Star Refrigeration.
These include completing my apprenticeship, moving over to service branch and working my way through the engineering grading system as well as being on call and involved in the installation of large contracts.
I have now been with Star Refrigeration for 24 years. You are made to feel as a valued member of the team. Also, the company offers great job security and looks after employees through ongoing training, pension, long service awards, private health care and career progression opportunities.
Where do you see your role progressing?
I would like to progress towards a management role within the company and I believe that Star will help me get there.
What excites you about the industry?
This has been a constantly evolving industry since I joined. With more severe environmental legislation and regulation, our customers face some serious challenges. Star Refrigeration are always looking towards the future and significant investment goes into research and development of climate friendly technologies.
What advice would you give to young people who are just starting a similar career path to yours?
The best advice I could give is don’t be scared. This is a great career and you will get out of it what you are willing to put in. There will always be a need for refrigeration which means that there will always be a need for qualified refrigeration engineers!