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The Voice of Workmanship III

Unfortunately our workforce of today cannot keep going forever so to ensure we have a work force of tomorrow we have a number of trainers throughout the business passing on skills, tips and no doubt tricks of the trade to our newest recruits. Below is the third instalment of “The Voice of Workmanship” which will give you an insight into life as a Clicking Room Trainer with Richard Atterbury.

The Voice of Workmanship III

Name: Richard Atterbury

Age: 60

Start Date: 22th October 2007

Position: Trainer / QC

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How long did it take you to learn your trade?
I have been in the shoe industry for forty five years, within these years I attended the Boot & Shoe Technical College to gain a City & Guilds Certificate. I also attended the institute of Supervision and Management in 1997 and gained my Supervisory Management Certificate.

From 1998 – 2000, I attended University College Northampton after which I was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in management.

After forty five years of dealing with a wonderful natural product like leather, that is constantly changing, you could say I am still learning.

Just for fun… Roughly how many shoes do you think you’ve work on for Crockett & Jones over the years?
I estimate that I have inspected the leather for quality, meeting our strict quality standards, to manufacture between 700k and 800k pairs of shoes!

Do you have a favourite Crockett & Jones style or design?
I particularly like Clifford a full brogue in tan antique calf from our Hand Grade Collection. The leather has a lovely fine break and a beautiful lustre finish.

Are there any styles that are particularly tricky to work on?
As I inspect all of the leathers before they are distributed into our Clicking Department, I can honestly say that it is a real challenge on most leathers these days. Making sure we adhere to our strict high standards is the trickiest part.

What made you decide to work in the shoe trade and how did you go about getting your job at Crockett & Jones?
I was initially considering two very different trades as a trainee, I had to decide between either a trainee electrician or a trainee clicker. I am very happy that I chose the latter for I have had a long and varied career within the industry. Not to say it didn't include many years of hard work!

What brought you to Crockett & Jones?
I applied for a position with Crockett & Jones as a Clicking Trainer as the company was looking to expand its clicking room offering trainee positions to enthusiastic and willing candidates. Recently, due to the challenges we are facing with leather quality, my role changed to include Leather Quality Control Co-Ordinator. This has become a big part of my role ensuring the high quality of materials used to manufacture the shoes, remains high.

What would you say is the most important fact about shoemaking?
When you work with leather as I do, and love shoemaking as I do, it takes genuine skills built up over the years to produce our top class product. It is these skills that the shoe industry cannot do without and it is so important we pass it on to the next generation.

You must have a few interesting stories from your time in the factory, would you care to share one or two of them?
I have a very moving story from my past which may interest you: In one of my previous roles as a Clicking Trainer, I worked for a company based in the Far East. I had come to the end of my contract after a number of weeks teaching and on my last day, to my complete surprise, a parade was held in my honour, which included all of my students, as a thank you for all of the knowledge I had passed onto each of them
I was completely overcome with emotion and pride that they could show me such appreciation for my work… This will stay with me forever.

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If you were talking to the younger generations looking for work today, what would you say to them about working for a footwear manufacturer?
It is also my role to teach the up and coming clickers or the clickers of tomorrow. This is a role I love to perform, and have been doing so throughout my career. You must always encourage the trainee, always show them respect, listen to their concerns and show them that there is a long and rewarding career to be had working in the shoe trade.

Finally, what do you think about the shoes Crockett & Jones are making today?
After all my years in shoemaking, there is no doubt in my mind that Crockett & Jones shoes are most certainly the best on the market for their price and quality.

Any other comments you’d like to add, would be great…
As I have said, I started in the shoe industry in 1967 and I am very happy with my decision. I have worked with some lovely people throughout the years and have consequently learnt a great deal. I am very happy to pass on my knowledge I have gained to the next generation who want to make a career in shoemaking with Crockett & Jones. The industry is once again thriving which makes it a great choice for younger people today.

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