Hotchkiss Operations Director announces retirement

Chris Beadle

After enjoying a hugely successful 50-year career at Hotchkiss, operations director, Chris Beadle has announced his retirement.

A long-term champion of the apprenticeship system, Chris’s progression from workshop apprentice through to company director perfectly encapsulates what a successful apprenticeship is all about and has allowed him to pass on his first-hand knowledge and experience to the next generation by assisting Hotchkiss chairman George Humphreys in developing a Trailblazer apprenticeship initiative.

Chris began his own four-year apprenticeship back in 1969 where he split his time between the Hotchkiss workshop and both Eastbourne and Hastings colleges, eventually obtaining a City & Guilds in Sheet Metal and Craft Skills parts 1 & 2. After gaining full time employment as a qualified Sheet Metal Worker, Chris worked his way up through the ranks – first becoming an Estimator, then a Project Surveyor, before making his mark as a Group Surveyor.

Appointed contracts manager in 1996, Chris spent five years overseeing delivery of a number of high profile London based projects and was heavily involved in developments pertaining to the BAA framework at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports. This paved the way for his promotion to the Hotchkiss board as contracts director, where he spent nine successful years before making his final move to the position of operations director, with overall responsibility for the workshop and production as well as more recent involvement with off-site assembly.

During his five decades in the industry, Chris has been instrumental in the successful delivery of a number of iconic projects, including the Millennium Dome, the Heathrow T2A redevelopment and the TML Folkstone Terminal, helping to cement Hotchkiss’ position as the UK’s leading air conditioning ductwork company.

The exemplary work of Chris and his team led to a number of prestigious industry awards, including the Construction News Award for Best Mechanical and Electrical Contractor, the Building Magazine Specialist Contractor Award for Best Training and the BAM Construction Gold Award for Health & Safety Performance.

Looking back on a successful career, Chris explains why he steadfastly championed the apprenticeship route, commenting: “I remember when I was at school I was directed towards employment via the apprenticeship route to learn a skill for life. I got an interview with Hotchkiss and never looked back.

“When I became a Director it was my turn to employ apprentices and I must say I was disappointed and shocked with the way apprenticeships were seen by the schools and candidates themselves especially in construction. They were definitely seen as second best to going to university. Hopefully with the new government trailblazers this will now change. I can recommend the apprenticeship route, especially in the building services sector of construction. I had a great career!”

By establishing close ties with local colleges, Hotchkiss has been able to take on a large number of apprentices – currently 34 covering all aspects of the ductwork industry – and Chris has invested his considerable knowledge and expertise to ensure that they are given the necessary support and guidance to realise their full potential.

In addition, Hotchkiss was involved in helping to establish the Association of Ductwork Contractors and Allied Services (ADCAS) as the voice of the ductwork industry and has tirelessly pushed for further support for apprentices within the construction industry – culminating in the introduction of the Trailblazer initiative, the government standard designed to ensure competency and to give apprentices the skills they need to progress. It is now hoped that the newly developed standard will go some way to addressing the skills shortage that is currently blighting the industry.

George Humphreys comments: “On behalf of everyone at Hotchkiss I would like to thank Chris for his hard work and dedication to the company and the ductwork industry as a whole. He has been instrumental in the development of our apprentice programme and his industry knowledge and insight will be sorely missed. We congratulate Chris on a fantastic career and wish him all the best for the future.”

Hotchkiss is currently recruiting for its 2018 apprentice intake and an application form can be found at:

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