Apprentice to managing director: Woodbridge engineer's rise to the top

Adam Dalby stood next to a Brafe sign

Adam Dalby joined Brafe Engineering as an apprentice at the age of 18 - Credit: BRAFE

A 32-year-old father of two has risen through the ranks to become managing director of a Suffolk-based engineering firm. 

Aged just 18, Woodbridge resident Adam Dalby joined Brafe Engineering, which is based on the outskirts of Woodbridge, in 2008 as an apprentice. 

Earlier this year, Mr Dalby took the reigns from his father Andrew, who started at the firm in 1979 as a metallurgist. 

"I grew up in the company", he said. "I remember being seven or eight and coming here after playing football.

"A lot of employees here knew me as a toddler - that fuzzy-haired little boy who used to put his feet up on the reception desk."

Starting at the firm as a teenager, Mr Dalby spent spells of six to nine months in various departments of the business while studying for a degree in business management.

"I was essentially earning while learning", he said.

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After four years, he then took the step up into project coordination - his last role before becoming managing director. 

With sons, fathers and even grandfathers working alongside each other, Adam said "the company has a real family feel.

"Last year, we had an employee retire after 21 years whose son had worked here for 18 years. His grandson also joined us for a period of work experience.

"That is what makes this place so smooth to run - because people really care. They take pride in what they do, and what they do is really very special."

Formed in 1966 by Michael Goodman, Brafe specialises in precision-engineered metal alloy castings, supplying businesses across the world.

The company now employs 95 staff and records an average turnover of £10million. 

Mr Dalby said he is eager to build on the company's successes, building on its reputation as a world-beating foundry.

He said: "I am invested not just financially but emotionally in this company, in the people who work at Brafe and for the legacy of those who have come before me. 

"I am so proud to be the new managing director - this company is part of my family."