As it happens Robinson is a big fan of the NHS. By 2013 his business had grown to the stage where he was “getting up at daft o’clock” each day to travel the length and breadth of the country. He collapsed, told those with him he was fine, but then had five cardiac arrests in 90 minutes, including in the ambulance that rushed him to hospital.
“Since then I’ve cut back on the mileage,” he says. But it was also a lesson in how accumulated physical stress can take effect, on both the equipment we operate as well as ourselves. He’s also just as happy working on small projects for drycleaners: “I love calls where the cleaner asks ‘Do you make these?’ because it’s a chance to engineer solutions on a daily basis.”
While working with metals provides opportunities to design bespoke equipment, Robinson is also a big fan of plastic, both for its lengthy ‘life cycle’ and that virgin plastic can then be recycled for further use.
Naturally, this view is shared by the team at Bryant Plastics in Keighley, West Yorkshire, a long-established family business currently led by managing director Yvonne Bryant, daughter of its founder.
Jackie Smith, their quality and improvement manager, says Bryant’s long-lasting cages are produced from virgin plastic which could still be working hard for us perhaps 60 to 80 years from now: “Our cages have changed so much from the original ones because we worked with our customers, and now have better, stronger products that can service the industry and last a long time. “We try to work with our customers to get the right product for them. It’s not uncommon that someone calls looking for a particular product, and they then buy a different one, because we want to get the right product for them. It’s not just about selling, it’s about having that relationship.