Left to right: Dave Smith and Colin Moir.
Mr Smith, who joined the company as a 20-year-old 18 months after the company was founded in 1973, has seen the company grow from humble beginnings to become a multi-award-winner that is a UK market leader in the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of commercial and industrial chimney, flue and exhaust systems. It now employs more than 140 people from its purpose-built factory in Ollerton, near Newark.
He fondly recalls the early days, where he was making air-conditioning ducting (before the company’s move into flues and chimneys) one day in a small shed and installing it the next all over the country with founder Colin Moir, who he says has been like a second father to him.
Mr Smith, originally from Ollerton before moving to South Hykeham in Lincolnshire a few years age, says he had worked with Colin previously and jumped at the chance to work at A1. He says he can’t believe how the company has grown.
Mr Smith commented: “It was very hand to mouth back then. I’d snip shapes out of stainless steel, form it and weld it to make sections of ducting before going with Colin to site and fitting it. I’ve had a fantastic time at A1 and have worked with some great people. It’s been astonishing the way that it has grown to become the UK’s number one flue firm, and I’m very proud to have been a part of it. I’ll be sad to go and I’ll really miss everyone – but I think I deserve to take it easier after 45 years.”
During his time, Mr Smith has done virtually every job going. In his position before retirement, he was a contracts coordinator responsible for checking orders for flue systems and components before they were manufactured. It’s a responsible position, as A1 installs flue and chimney systems in some of the UK’s most iconic buildings, including royal palaces, The Shard and currently Battersea Power Station.
The company has installed systems at most of the UK’s major sporting venues, including the Twickenham Stadium and the Emirates Stadium, as well as homes belonging to celebrities including Bono and Rod Stewart.
Everyone at A1 Flue Systems will miss Mr Smith, according to founder Colin Moir, who at 77 years old is still very hands on in the company he started.
Mr Moir said: “Dave and I have been through a lot, and it’s been a pleasure to have worked with him for well over four decades. He was there in the very early days and he’s been an integral part of this company as it has gone from strength to strength because of the dedication and loyalty of Dave and others.”
Dave is already looking to the future and has just purchased a plot of land that he’s planning to turn into an allotment. He is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, as well as more time in the garden and fishing, and has told colleagues that on the first day of his retirement, he’ll be cutting his grass as his former workmates are clocking in to work.