The Last Word – Tim Rutter

March 7, 2022

Closing this month’s issue of North East Times, Tim Rutter, recently-appointed managing director at Blyth-based sheet metal fabricator Universal Wolf, talks about his plans for the business – which is part of the Tharsus Group – its strong commitment to teamwork and the firm’s place within the evolving manufacturing sector.

Tell us about Universal Wolf and your aims and objectives for the business in your new role.

Universal Wolf is an award-winning complex sheet metal fabricator with a 50-year heritage in the North East. Our customers trust us with the toughest challenges, whether that’s taking an idea to market or delivering against a complex brief. Our resilience and positive attitude to deliver for our customers is a key difference that sets us apart. My role as managing director is to lead the continuation of the strong growth that Universal Wolf has achieved to date. Complex fabrication plays a central and critical role in most engineered products, so I see a great opportunity in continuing to serve multiple sectors and more customers with our deep expertise and a distinctive team identity. I have plans to considerably grow the business over the next few years by exploring new revenue opportunities while deepening our existing relationships with customers. A key part of delivering this will be expanding our pool of talented colleagues so we can serve new demands and continue to stand as a key part of the excellent high-value manufacturing sector in the North East.

One of the company’s key taglines is ‘Power of the Pack’, which relates to the potency and togetherness of its workforce. Just how strong is the firm’s commitment to its people, and how important is having a tight-knit, highly-skilled and motivated team to achieving success?

What we mean when we say we are a pack is that we bring the best people together to make great things happen. When you are our customer, you’re also part of our pack, as we’re in this together. This allows us to be a partner for the long-term, as we run with our customers from start to finish through the product journey. For us, it’s more than work because we’re passionate about it and we have an absolute commitment to quality – from the people we train to the product we deliver. This is key to achieving success, as the innovation is inspired by a dedication to great work – and to each other. It’s really important to us that we have the right combination of passion, persistence and people, so we can deliver work that works for our customers. We recruit, train and retain highly-skilled people – and it’s great working with a mix of people from apprentices just joining the pack, through to people with more than 45 years’ service. The business, and the pack as a whole, is driven by a really positive ambition and an appetite to grow, develop and continue adding value to our customers.

You were previously plant manager at Newton Aycliffe-based trainbuilder Hitachi Rail. What was it like working for the company that has brought trainbuilding back to the cradle of the railway? And what does the future hold for North East manufacturing?’

It has been a huge privilege of mine to be involved in North East manufacturing throughout my career to date. Universal Wolf has a long history in complex manufacturing in the North East – and we’re looking forward to the next phase. It’s so exciting to see new manufacturers investing in the region too, including Hitachi Rail, which has brought trainbuilding back to its birthplace. The North East has such a strong tradition of manufacturing, good transport links for road, sea and air, really good population centres to recruit from and some fantastic schools, colleges and universities. With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to seeing the next phase of manufacturing develop in this region, particularly in Blyth and Northumberland, as we blend new technologies and sectors with more traditional ones, and seek to digitise and develop the next generation of skilled manufacturing colleagues.


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