Mark answered a range of questions for us in a candid and insightful interview that provides a unique look into the world of autoclaves....
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What led you to work in the autoclave industry, and how long have you been with Durham Autoclaves?
I started as maintenance apprentice with Alistair. I then spent a year at Southwest Durham to complete my apprenticeship. After this, I did lots of jobs, gaining experience and deciding what I truly wanted to get into. At around age 28, I started working for Astell scientific who manufactured and distributed autoclaves. Initially, I was a service engineer. I was then promoted to senior engineer and the opportunity came up to buy Durham Autoclaves in 2010. From there we slowly expanded and Alistair came onboard after a year. In November 2018, I bought Sterilising Consultancy Services and amalgamated both companies. We came to our current site on Aycliffe Business Park 3 years ago, a great move as it meant we were coming back to where it all started – coming full circle! Our location on the business park is perfect for engineers because of the road links. We are proud of our long history with the business park. We have now expanded the amount of engineers we employ and now cover the whole of the UK.
2. Networking is essential for any business. What types of businesses or professionals are you currently looking to connect with and why?
We work with dentists, podiatrists, tattooists, pharmaceutical companies, universities, bio scientists and engineering facilities. Connections within any of these would be extremely useful.
3. Could you share a valuable connection you've made that has had a positive impact on Durham Autoclaves?
We maintain a strong and reliable partnership with Melag, which is the leading name in autoclave technology. This partnership is built on a foundation of trust, quality, and shared values. Melag's commitment to producing high-quality autoclaves aligns perfectly with our mission. Through this collaboration, we offer a range of Melag autoclaves, known for their efficiency and dependability, to meet the needs of our customers. Our relationship with Melag reflects our dedication to delivering excellence in every aspect of autoclave services.
4. In your opinion, what sets Durham Autoclaves apart from others in the industry? What values or principles drive your business?
We provide a personal touch because of our status as a small business. An additional effort is made to ensure our customers receive the highest quality service. The service we offer is truly premium, with all of our engineers being time served experts. Breakdowns are prioritised, ensuring our clients can continue running their businesses without disruption. Exceptional customer service is a point of pride, reflecting our commitment to delivering the service we would expect to receive ourselves. Our consistent customer base, returning year after year, is a testament to our dedication. In addition to our values of delivering outstanding customer service, we are fortunate to offer the Melag Autoclave, a market leader known for its exceptional German quality, to our customers. This provides added value to our clients.
5. Autoclaves play a critical role in various sectors, from healthcare to research. What do you find most rewarding about working with autoclaves and supporting these industries?
When we repair an autoclave, in whatever sector, it ensures they can continue their service. We support them by ensuring our clients can continue their working day. Seeing businesses up and running who otherwise would not be able to run without our service is incredibly rewarding. It is always nice to hear the positive feedback from our clients too!
6. Durham Autoclaves offers a range of services, from repairs to installations. Can you tell us about a particularly memorable project you've worked on recently?
We’ve had everything from a tattooist accidentally putting alcohol in their autoclave to spiders being found within the machines, believe me, we’ve seen it all!! A little while ago, we had a challenging machine with a vacuum leak. After a lengthy investigation, we traced the problem to be due to a fracture within a door which is highly unusual. This machine was 14 years old after all! The customer decided not to take on the repair and instead purchased a new Melag. Customer is now very happy. There was also one occasion when Alistair and I were travelling to Melag headquarters in Germany and accidentally missed our connecting flights. This had absolutely nothing to do with finding the Irish Bar in Schiphol Airport!! We then had to spend the night in Amsterdam was unfortunately completely out of our control!!! Thankfully, we were able to organise an early flight the next morning and made it to our destination. Obviously, we’ve had the common issues of bad packing when we are travelling! No toothbrush and underwear can always be a bit of an issue but thankfully, we usually find a Tesco or a Sainsburys!!
7. With your experience in the industry, what trends or changes do you see on the horizon for autoclave technology and services?
Recent years have seen more corporates coming into the marketplace. Technology is constantly advancing. We are proud to be able to offer the most technically advanced machine - Melag’s Vakulav 41B evolution. This is the fastest autoclave on the market. The marketplace is constantly changing and the influx of corporates is increasing all the time.
8. Outside of work, do you have any hobbies or interests that you're passionate about? How do you balance your professional and personal life?
I play golf, love cycling, and enjoy going to the gym. I also like camping in my camper van. As we have an amazing team here at Durham Autoclaves, I don’t feel like I am juggling work and life as I did years ago. We are an established business with fantastic people who work well as a team, ensuring everything runs like clockwork.
Finally, if someone reading this interview wants to connect with you or learn more about Durham Autoclaves, what's the best way for them to reach out or get in touch?
They can check out our website - https://www.durhamautoclaves.co.uk/
You can also find us on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/durhamautoclaves