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Lowestoft; Boatbuilder set to take on 10 apprentices in autumn

11:00 01 August 2014

Tony Holman, who is taking on apprentices.

Tony Holman, who is taking on apprentices.

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A Lowestoft boatbuilding and repairs firm is set to fuel its rapid expansion when it takes on 10 new apprentices in September.

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Tony Holman, inset, 24, who launched Holman Marine Solutions out of a barn five years ago, issued an urgent plea for new staff earlier this year to cope with an expected rush of business to repair and service windfarm supply vessels.

The arrival of the apprentices will take the number of staff at his premises in the Excelsior Boatyard, Harbour Road, from 14 to 24.

Mr Holman, who moved from Kent as a teenager to study at Lowestoft’s International Boatbuilding Training College, praised the work of regional training company RAKTrain in taking all the worries out of employing apprentices.

He said: “When they saw my original story in the paper about wanting to take on apprentices they sent me an email the following day and they did everything. I did not have to touch a pen.”

More than 30 people were invited to interview and RAKtrain organised an on-the-water assessment as part of it.

“It was magical to see their enthusiasm and commitment; we really put them through it on the practical,” said Mr Holman said they were now gearing up for the near doubling of their workforce to ensure they had the right people and right jobs in place for the apprentices.

“ABP have supplied a 180ft oil tanker as a training boat for them to work on and they have been so helpful in every respect,” said Mr Holman.

He predicts his current turnover of close to £1m will rise to £5.5m/ £6m by 2016 - but without taking on apprentices he believes he would not have been able to find enough staff.

“It is difficult to find trained staff without looking abroad so the only option was to develop my own,” he said.

He knew from his offshore contacts that it was going to be very busy in the next two or three years.

“It looks like business from private motor boats and yachts will also increase,” he said.

Mr Holman started building small motorboats and yachts but the yard has now completed the construction of its first windfarm boat, a 17m, 16 passenger aluminium vessel for Sure Wind Marine.

He said: “The big thing for us will be maintaining, repairing and servicing the vessels already in the water. We are lifting two boats every day at the moment.

“However, with the extra staff we will be looking for more new builds and to diversify the range of boats we service.”

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