Training manager Ken Jones, who has helped launch the careers of hundreds of young apprentice engineers is hanging up his hard hat and steel-capped boots after a career spanning more than 40 years.
Ken, who started work with Jones Bros Civil Engineering as a young mechanic agricultural engineer, now plans to devote time to writing a book about the history of the Ruthin-based company.
He also hopes to indulge his passion for vintage tractors, taking his prized vehicles out to agricultural fairs.
“I have mixed feelings about retiring, as whilst I’m looking forward to having more leisure time, I’ll really miss my friends and colleagues at Jones Bros,” said Ken, 65, from St Asaph. “This job has been my life and I have had a terrific time.
“However I will be able to keep in close touch with everyone as I gather material for my book about the history of Jones Bros which I think will be a fascinating read for people in the area.”
As Health, Safety, Environmental and Training Manager, Ken has recently overseen the launch of Jones Bros’ revamped independent training scheme.
For the first time, apprentices complete a 12-week introductory course at the company’s purpose-designed training centre next to its Ruthin headquarters, rather than at a national training college in Norfolk.
“We are very proud of our new scheme which means that our apprentices can be trained in-house, on their doorstep, rather than having to travel to Kings Lynn in Norfolk,” said Ken.
Ken’s career with Jones Bros began when he responded to a newspaper advert for apprentice mechanics needed to repair tractors, diggers and other agricultural machinery.
After serving his time, Ken progressed to become field service engineer on the plant hire side.
He spent a period of time running the workshop and was later appointed plant manager for six months to cover a colleague’s sick leave.
Ken went on to spend 17 years as plant instructor and in the late 1990s he qualified as a safety adviser at Deeside College, later winning promotion to training and safety manager.
A career highlight occurred for Ken in 2006 when he was presented with a safety award from Constructionskills at a ceremony at the renowned Celtic Manor Hotel in Gwent.
He is also particularly proud of a former Jones Bros apprentice Andy Reed, who went on to become a British Aerospace engineer and now teaches at Northop College.
“Andy, a farmer’s son, came to us at 16 and I knew from the word go that he would be terrific,” added Ken. “It’s nice that he is now passing on his expertise to young apprentices.”
Ken is also looking forward to travelling in his mobile home with his partner Vicky and his pet dog.