We Celebrate 30 years with Sid

This year marks 30 years at Poole Lighting for our Head of Compliance, Sid Payne. He has seen Poole Lighting at a time when the designing and manufacturing took place right next door, through to an office that is filled with 100 people. We sat with Sid to find out more about those years of service.

What is your role at Poole Lighting?

I am Head of Compliance – which means that I am responsible for ensuring our products comply with all relevant legislation and regulations – particularly through safety testing at various laboratories. I do my best to ensure that our factories comply with ethical, environmental and technical requirements through our Far East audit team. I also advise our designers, engineers, factories and customers to try to ensure that our products can be made fully compliant.

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What were things like when you started at the company?

When I started here in 1988, this building was our main factory and everything was manufactured here – either from solid polished brass or painted steel. We had no computers, mobile phones or internet. Weekly production programs for each department were handwritten on large sheets of graph paper and product specifications were no more than “fag-packet” drawings!

Poole Lighting grew steadily and cheaper brass-plating was introduced in the early 90’s. As plating quality improved it became accepted by more customers, and the volume of polished brass declined significantly. We grew quickly in turnover and had to increase capacity many times to keep up with demand.  At one time there were at least 120 women assembling lights in the unit over the road – keeping them busy was probably the most challenging yet rewarding period I have spent here.

How have things changed?

Inevitably, manufacturing had to move to China for us to remain competitive, and at that time I was technical & quality manager. A fresh set of challenges arose and we soon built up a solid team in China to back up our UK operation.

Over the years, several other UK lighting companies have been acquired and absorbed into Poole – Arnold Smart, Quest Emess, Cresswell, Helix, Endon – I count myself as very fortunate that we have kept our base in Poole.

What has kept you at Poole Lighting?

The amount of product legislation, EU directives and regulations have grown and continue to drive the need for compliance. This looks set to continue even beyond Brexit. Sitting on the Lighting Industry Association’s Technical committee gives me early insight into impending changes to regulations affecting our business and products. I think it must be the variety of fresh challenges and opportunities that keeps the job interesting. Our customers are also much smarter and far more demanding nowadays, with their individual certification, audit and data requirements.

What are things like at the company today?

Of course, Poole Lighting is still evolving. Thirty years here have taught me to take heart from the positive people around me and I must say that I am encouraged by the fresh approach taken by our new leadership, and by our brighter, unified office! I may be in the twilight of my working years here, but I am confident that the future of the company is in safe hands.

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