Carl Curtis – Operations Manager at Wernick Buildings
I am the Operations Manager at Wernick Buildings and I oversee production of modular buildings within the factory.
I ensure that production targets are met, that there is enough labour for the work-load and that the team have a safe environment to work in.
Working with people is what interests and drives me. I’m lucky to work alongside managers who I learn from every day. Seeing how different people operate is fascinating and I try to take what I’ve learnt and pass it on to my team.
I tell them to really listen to what people are saying. Get to know your staff and ask questions – ‘why did they say that?’ It’s great when people have ambition, drive and ideas but what about the others who need just as much support? I remember names and I invest time in people.
If someone comes to me with a problem, I guide them to the solution themselves. I want to help empower people to make their own decisions and I want to see staff with their chest puffed out when they leave my office.
I’m sure my background in sport helps me to see the bigger picture – we’ve all got Wernick on our hats. We all work for the same team.
My proudest work achievement is my progression. I started with Wernick 19 years ago. I had quit college (I was studying Sports Science and Media) as I was raising two young children as a single dad. I was cleaning windows when I got the call to start at Wernick. I started as a labourer on the production lines and after five months I applied for a position in sheet metal folding.
While I was in the role, I noticed that there was no supervisor for sub-assembly, so I went to the manager and volunteered myself for the role. I’m very organised and methodical so it made sense. The manager was taken aback – he said ‘never in my life has anyone come to me with a job they’ve created for themselves!’ but it was another year before the role was created and I was ‘invited to apply’ for it.
Over the years I’ve taken on roles in every area of the factory so I’ve got a broad knowledge of how things work. At one point as Foreman, I oversaw door manufacture. I told Jeff, the manager at the time, that I didn’t have any carpentry experience so I didn’t feel comfortable telling carpenters how to do their jobs. He replied “don’t tell them what to do, show them how to manage their time” and that was a lesson that has stuck with me.
In 2014 we were at capacity at the old factory and I working day and night to make the space work. That’s when we made the move to the new premises in Kenfig which I oversaw as the Factory Manager’s second in command. Shortly after, Jeff took early retirement following a lottery win, and that’s when I stepped into my current role.
I sometimes think ‘what else would I be doing for a career?’ – Wernick has offered opportunities that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learnt a lot as a manager and I’m still growing and learning.
I’m also proud of our achievements in the modular building field: of helping to improve the buildability and the efficiencies of our products. I see projects like Swansea University and it’s all thanks to the innovations we’ve worked on in the last three years.
Would I recommend working at Wernick? Well my son, brother and nephew work here! Wernick offers a secure living and a chance to grow within the company. My standard of living has gone up and there are few opportunities like that in this area (Neath Port Talbot). The factory offers a career in ‘construction’ without the downsides – we offer a pension, reliable hours and you don’t need to work outside in all conditions. In my 19 years here, I have never woken up and dreaded coming into work.
When I interview people, I tell them that I haven’t done too badly for someone with no relevant qualifications to show them that we do promote from within. Ambition and drive are recognised and rewarded. I take pride in employing people from the area and giving youngsters opportunities.
Outside of work:
I’m a season ticket holder for Cardiff City – me and my daughter watch them play home and away. I also run a Cardiff City website. Until recently, I wrote a two-page spread for the back of the South Wales Echo newspaper. I also love watching live music and going to festivals and comedy shows.