We had the pleasure of catching up with Kelvin, the Yardman at Swansea, who might be approaching retirement age but he has a work ethic that defies description and clearly no plans to slow down any time soon.  Kelvin’s zest for life in and out of work, his positivity and his family values shine through in this conversation.

We started by asking him how he ended up at WG Davies and it turns out there is a family connection that dates all the way back to Roger’s father, “My older brother worked for WG Davies as a fitter when John Davies was MD, that was back in the late 1970’s and he loved working for WG Davies.  One day I was driving an HGV into Swansea and the Workshop Manager offered me a job as the Yardman and it was easy to say yes.”

“Working here is everything he said it would be, it is a real family atmosphere, a feel good factor.  There is not a day goes by when Roger, Debbie or Rachel will go past without stopping ask how you are.  They are such a lovely family and all the staff are looked after here.  Now and again, on a hot day they will go up to Farm Foods and buy an ice cream for all the boys.  Little things like that mean a lot.”

Prior to taking up the position at WG Davies, Kelvin has worked in a hugely diverse range of jobs, some times more than one at a time.  “After school I worked for the summer building the M4 from junction 46 through to 49” he told us, “Then I joined the Royal Navy on HMS Cambridge for three years.  It was during peace time and ship being refitted, so while the friends that I had done training with were travelling all over the world, I was shore based and just leaving home for manoeuvres, so I decided to come out.”

Following that Kelvin put in 31 years at British Steel as the Health and Safety manager and while there he dramatically changed the safety record.  “The Works Manager wanted me to lead a team we called “Target Zero” and we had a five year plan to reduce lost time due to accidents.  In 2000 we had 23 loss time injuries and by 2005 we got that down to zero.  I was awarded the Chief Executive’s award for changing culture within the industry, they went on to adopt the model we had and rolled it out to rest of industry.  That’s my claim to fame.”

At the same time as he worked at British Steel, Kelvin also worked as a retained fire fighter in Glamorgan, putting in 40 hours a week plus additional time on call, always wearing a pager when he was at home.  “I just enjoy work” he explained simply.

If that sounds impressive – and it surely must – you should know also that Kelvin was voted “Teacher of the Year” for each of the six years that he worked as a Cover Supervisor at the Bryn Tawe comprehensive school, a position he was head hunted for after leaving British Steel.  

With all of that going on he still found time to build his own home from scratch and that is where he lives now, in Amman just a few miles from Swansea.  “My father was a brick layer and together we built it up to slab level, then I managed the build with help from a lot of friends who I have in the trade.”

Today Kelvin has responsibility for “Anything relating to the yard, workshop maintenance and keeping the biomass boilers fired up to provide heat and water for the staff.  I also look after new vehicles, I wash and valet them and then I deliver them to the customer.“

It is a job which comes with its own company “vehicle”, which featured in the Q4 newsletter.  “I wanted a wheel barrow,“ Kelvin explained “so I plagued Daniel.  He got one of the apprentices to paint the registration number KELV1 on it.  Then they called me into the workshop urgently, all the techs and apprentices were there and they presented me with it.”

It is an enviable team spirit, “The banter is amazing,” Kelvin told us, “I come in the in in the morning smiling and I go home at night with my jaw hurting because I laugh so much in work.  The morale is just remarkable.  It is just 18 months to my retirement in January 2025 but the way I feel now I will just keep going.”

Away from work, family and travelling are Kelvin’s focus.  He has a son, Kristian, to whom he is very close.  As a boy they would enjoy motor cycles together and his voice fills with pride when he talks about his work in Fiji as a marine / environmental biologist for Conservation International.  “He lives in Fiji now and I go out there for a month every Christmas as well as gettng together for a family holiday.  We have been to all the Canary Islands, quite often to the States and to Australia, a month ago we were out in Vegas.  Kristian will fly out from Fiji with his partner, Cece, while I travel out from here with my ex-wife and her new husband, who I get on great with, and we have a holiday together.”

Kelvin is an inspiration.  A hard working, humble man with enough energy to put most of us to shame and an attitude to life that is truly uplifting.  Thank you Kelvin for taking the me to share all of that with us.

Staff Spotlight: Kelvin Miles, Swansea Yardman