Staff focus: Craig Burton

At Cepac we're incredibly proud of our people. This is one in a series of staff focus articles where we shine a light on the many faces who make up our team.

Can you describe your role at Cepac?

I’m the Deputy Engineering Manager here at Rotherham. I started off as an electrical apprentice, I completed my apprenticeship here and then I became an electrical engineer on shift. After a while I felt like I wanted to progress my career a bit so I had a chat with the engineering manager at the time. They moved me forward to electrical supervisor which I was very happy with. I remember not being sure if I wanted to go down the management route or improve my engineering skills. I was very open minded at the time. Cepac were changing the management structure and as part of that I got the position of electrical engineering manager, I looked after the electrical team at that stage.

Jumping forward a few years there was another restructuring at management level and we had a new engineering manager join. As part of his new role, to support his position, and in part to develop myself they put us together and I stepped up to Deputy Engineering Manager. I could support him but I also gained a mentor which was valuable. Between us we look after the entire engineering team here. That involves managing people and stores, the services, the electrical and the mechanical side of things. It seems to be working well and we work well together.

We’re responsible for around thirty people in the engineering department at Rotherham. So there’s plenty to do to keep us busy!

I finished my apprenticeship at level three so felt confident with the engineering side of things but as I got into the management side of things I felt it would be useful to have additional training. With Cepac’s support I went to Uni, alongside work, studying a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. At that time I had a chat with the Operations Director on site, we discussed my options and Cepac agreed to fund me through my studies and help me achieve it which was a fantastic support.

Are there any standout achievements or events from your career so far?

There have been a lot to be fair! Things that might seem small to some people. For instance, any time there’s a breakdown on a machine getting our heads together and getting it back up and running. Every time there’s still a real sense of achievement there—I take pride in that. On the installation work, we’ve done a hell of a lot of big projects across sites. We’ve taken machines out and installed machines, all sorts really. Seeing that big picture with everything working, I take a lot of personal pride in that. When I get the time to stand back, I think yeah, good job well done! I’ve been here about sixteen years and that sense of achievement from those projects is still something that’s with me.

On a personal note it’s my degree that matters. That’s been a big career milestone for sure. I’m still open minded to where I can go moving forward so I wouldn’t rule out further study in future. If there’s a chance for another step, maybe a Masters, I’d certainly be open to considering it. I think it’s important not just to do courses for the sake of it, so before I’d consider something like that I’ll be putting my learnings in to practice here and getting some real value that way. And that in itself is exciting. Not to forget that Cepac will be looking to getting some advantage from the investment they’ve made in me. So that’s the focus right now.

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis?

There is so much going on that it’s different every day to be honest. And that’s part of the challenge, you never know what you’re going to be facing. The number one goal is to keep the machines running and to keep them maintained. Keeping up production is critical.

But it’s not enough to keep the factory running day-to-day, we want to see incremental improvement across the whole operation. So I’m always looking to the future to see how we can improve performance without sacrificing quality. Our quality is industry leading and we have to build on that. That’s something that really interests me and something that Cepac is good at. We’re all about innovation and innovative technology is a key part of what we do. My degree has taught me some leading edge technologies and I’m looking forward to bringing that learning here and implementing some of that too. I think everybody here is looking to constantly improve so I’m glad to be a part of that.

What are you excited for in Cepac?

At the moment the main thing we’re looking at is the corrugator operator so that’s our short-term future plan. We made a big investment last [2020] Christmas and there’s been a lot of work gone into that. For me personally that’s something that will provide a big benefit. We’ve also started planning for the next couple of projects, but I probably shouldn’t tell you about that here!

The new corrugator will operate at high speed and with tremendous efficiency. We’re always seeking to improve things to better our customers’ expectations. Of course, you improve one thing and immediately see opportunities elsewhere. In a way that’s a big part of the job, chasing that next challenge.


What’s the company culture like?

I’d say it’s good. There’s a really helpful environment here. Everyone helps each other and builds each other up. If somebody has an idea we’ll get around the table and we’ll share it. Not everybody’s initial idea is immediately the right one but by bouncing it around and getting input from the team we can often grow into something really useful. Working together on a challenge, picking on ideas and adding to them together, that always works.

What’s nice is it’s not all about hierarchy. The most junior person in the room can be the one to make the next big suggestion. We’ve had apprentices come forward with ideas that have led to bigger projects. It could come from anybody. What we need to be careful about is making sure that the person who came forward in the first place is credited at the end of a project. We work so collaboratively that it can occasionally be difficult to separate who did what, but that feedback and credit is important. I’m working on getting better at feeding back.

How would you describe Cepac in terms of quality?

I think internally. It’s people and staff development. I’m a great example of that and of how supportive Cepac are. They’ve been excellent at developing me. I left school, joined the Navy for a year (which didn’t really work out for me) and then joined Cepac as my first proper job. They [Cepac] have been there for me ever since and have supported me in all my aspirations.

Now I’m in a position where I’m overseeing apprentices, I hope I’m doing as good a job of supporting them. We’ve had a lot of great engineers come through as apprentices and I think that development route and Cepac’s support is a credit both to them and the company. I think the ultimate proof of that approach is in how many people stay with the company and for how long people stay here. When we do lose people, and it happens, what is nice to know is that they tend to go on good terms, and I think they would speak well of working with us and at Cepac.

Certainly though, I can’t speak more highly of the quality of people who I work alongside. There isn’t anyone here who wouldn’t hear me out if I had a question, a suggestion or a concern. And that goes right to the top of the company. I know I’d get an ear and my opinion would be valued.