Andy Masters, Mastered.
Andy starting as an apprentice and now, co-owns AE Aerospace.
I caught up with our Technical Director to understand what decisions lead to him being in the position he is today. Listening to Andy’s story was like playing a game of Mario Brothers… conquering each level led to harder challenges to overcome, before finally leading to a win!
Andy comes from a family of tool makers, and as an indecisive 16-year-old he was encouraged to take that route. At the time, tool makers were seen as highly skilled and Andy felt this was something he could progress in. He enrolled himself into a 5-year engineering apprenticeship and joined Inspex Precision, a small aerospace company in Aston, Birmingham. On completion, Andy was offered a permanent role as a grinder.
Around 1994, the company was bought out by Able Engineering and relocated to a larger site. Andy found himself moving through the business from working on a CNC lathe, to becoming Cell Leader, to Account Manager (the position he enjoyed the most) and finally Site Manager all in the space of 4 years.
Over the next few years 9/11 had an impact on the business, that coupled with a downward trend led the business to go up for sale, this is when Andy and his partner decided it was right for an MBO.
Andy expressed that he never held any ambitions or dreams of owning a company but felt that having worked in all areas of the business helped prepare him with the responsibilities of becoming a Director.
When asked what the hardest part of the job is, Andy replied ‘managing and understanding the needs of people’. The company has seen rapid growth in the last 7 years from a team of 20 to a team of 70. With that growth comes new challenges. Andy explained that what motivates one person may not be what motivates another and understanding the needs of the team takes time, ‘it’s like running a football team, some people need a push, whilst others need a mentor. It isn’t always easy to explain why certain decisions are being made and it can get difficult to get the message across with a language that relates.’
Andy explained that having worked at the company ‘forever’ meant that a lot of colleagues become friends. Having to ‘cross that line between being the manager and friend can be difficult, you can’t have a foot in each camp, you need to be accountable’. Andy stated that the whole experience has been a learning curve for himself too. He used the analogy ‘imagine having 20 gold coins in your pocket, each one represents your reputation and standing. Every time you fail on a commitment or promise, you lose a coin. Eventually, all the coins will be gone and so will your reputation.’
Andy also expressed that to remain level-headed at work it’s important to have a healthy work life balance. Having a great network of friends and a passion for sport in general, especially golf (a lot of golf), has kept him going.
Of course I had to ask Andy for any advice he would like to share, ‘Don’t be afraid of failure, each fall is a lesson learnt.’ He further added now that he is on the opposite side of the interview table ‘the right attitude is key, not always about the qualification, I look for the drive and the ability to learn and grow’.
Andy has shown that a driven mindset opens doors, getting you that Mario Brothers win!