Snozone cooler delivery
"I have been with Star nearly 18 months and have successfully moved up to the next Star grade."

Darren Noakes, Refrigeration Engineer

Meet Darren, a Refrigeration Engineer at Star, based out of the Bristol depot. He covers the South West area, primarily working on ammonia refrigeration plants. Darren originally trained as a Heavy Goods Mechanic, transitioning into transport refrigeration before retraining in refrigeration and electrical systems. He joined Star 18 months ago at the age of 50 to gain more experience in ammonia refrigeration and has already progressed to the next grade. Darren appreciates Star's clear structure and progression path, which was evident from his induction. Regular appraisals and one-to-ones have kept him informed about what is required for advancement and available opportunities within the company. He values the supportive environment, where supervisors and directors look out for their team's well-being. Darren loves the technical challenges of the trade and advises anyone interested in industrial refrigeration to pursue it for a rewarding career.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at Star?
I am a Refrigeration Engineer, based out of the Bristol depo. A mobile engineer covering the South West area, primarily working on ammonia refrigeration plants.

Have you always been an engineer – when did you first begin working in refrigeration?
I originally trained as a Heavy Goods Mechanic, working for a large British transport company.

At what point in your career did you come into Star and how long did it take you to move onwards and upwards?

I started out from school through what was then called the “YTS” scheme, working up to being a heavy goods mechanic. As part of this role I worked on the mechanical side (engines) of transport refrigeration; over the next few years I slowly migrated towards transport refrigeration, then went through night school to re-train both in refrigeration and electrical. After 25 years or so (50 years old) I moved to Star, mainly to get more experience in ammonia refrigeration. I have been with Star nearly 18 months and have successfully moved up to the next Star grade.

Since you’ve been at Star, how have you found that the structured progression for engineers here has helped you?
The structure was clearly laid out from the first induction meeting. It gave me a clear idea of the path to the next grade and a clear view of the internal structure of Star and different directions within the company that may become available.

What does Star offer you for the future in terms of developing your unique career path?
Over 18 months of employment at Star I have had regular one-to-ones and appraisals showing what is required of me, and what I require from Star to progress. I have been notified of current positions within the Star group that I can apply for if I wish too.

I have also had discussions as to what I need to work towards to move up the ladder within my branch as and when management above me move up the ladder. This leaves me in a better position to apply for any future roles within the branch or Star as a whole.

What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to advance their career in industrial refrigeration?
Personally, I love the trade. It can be very technical and fulfilling, to work through issues and at the end to have a solution, I wish I’d had the opportunity to have started my career in Refrigeration. It is a wide-ranging field, from fault finding to maintenance, design to installation.

Why do you feel valued at Star?
I can only answer for the Bristol branch, but from the Supervisors to the Operations Director, they are always looking out for you and your teammates’ well-being.

Darren Noakes, Refrigeration Engineer