In the world of precision engineering, longevity and dedication are often key determinants of success. Craig Dowling, Manufacturing Director at Kirkstall Precision Engineering, exemplifies this ethos perfectly. As an apprentice trained engineer, Craig has journeyed through a myriad of key roles at Kirkstall Precision, leading him to the pinnacle position as a Manufacturing Director. As we mark his two-decade milestone, we sit down with Craig to learn more about his inspiring journey.
“I’ve always had a passion for making things,” says Craig, reflecting on his initiation into the world of engineering. This love for creation was nurtured by Kirkstall Precision, a company that he serendipitously discovered after the closure of his previous firm. Over the next twenty years, Craig would grow alongside Kirkstall Precision, participating in its evolution and successes.
At Kirkstall Precision, a company known for its exceptional employee retention, Craig experienced a unique growth trajectory. The mentoring and support of previous Managing Director of the company’s John Thornton, marked an important transition phase. Craig worked closely with John, absorbing valuable lessons that later shaped his leadership style. “John was very open and allowed me to progress. I owe him everything,” Craig reflects.
With a hands-on approach and unwavering commitment, Craig tackled a wide array of projects over the years. He acknowledges the difficulty of singling out just three of them, emphasizing the diversity and excitement of each project. His approach, driven by curiosity and constant learning, set the tone for his career advancement.
Craig’s roles within Kirkstall Precision have been diverse and expansive. Starting as a machinist, he quickly progressed to a shift supervisor, then moved into engineering. In due time, he found himself handling multiple departments and eventually took on a management role. His impressive journey culminated in his current role as Manufacturing Director.
A testament to the power of apprenticeships, Craig’s career trajectory embodies commitment and ambition. He extols the apprenticeship system, stating, “It’s a fantastic base for anyone. You learn the core competencies at the beginning.” However, he reminds us that apprenticeships are just the beginning. As he puts it, “the enjoyment of engineering and sharing that knowledge” is what truly fuels growth.
Asked to share words of encouragement for aspiring apprentices, Craig offers, “Enjoy engineering, appreciate the job satisfaction. Making something from start to finish and seeing the end result in your hand is immensely rewarding. Patience and passion are key to becoming a good engineer.”
When asked about his proudest achievements, Craig points to two key aspects: longevity and quality. After 20 years in the industry, his passion for engineering hasn’t waned. Each day brings a new challenge that he relishes. Also, being part of a company like Kirkstall Precision that upholds quality as a core tenet is another major source of pride.
Looking back on his twenty-year journey at Kirkstall Precision Engineering, Craig’s story is one of unwavering dedication, consistent learning, and remarkable growth. It serves as a shining testament to the power of apprenticeships and the opportunities for progression within the engineering sector. His journey is a reminder that with passion, patience, and the right environment, there are truly no limits to what can be achieved.