Meet our apprentices

Apprentices are the lifeblood of businesses today and Bisley is no exception; we’ve employed and supported apprentices for over 20 years now. To celebrate our apprentices, we met up with some of them to find out more about their life at Bisley.

Today, we get to know Sam Ostrolenk. Sam has been working for Bisley since 2007 and started out as an engineering apprentice. Since completing his apprenticeship six years ago, he has completed a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and has recently become a Team Leader in our Product Development department. Sam is responsible for providing engineering support to all parts of our business, enhancing the manufacturing processes and quality of our products, designing products and improving our operational efficiency.

What did you know about engineering before your apprenticeship?
Before I began my apprenticeship, I already had an understanding of engineering; as I’ve always been very good at Maths and Science. I also used to do archery in my spare time, so I could always make new parts for my bow and easily fix any issues with it.

How does that compare to everything you know now?
I’d say an apprenticeship allows you to improve and build on the skills you already have. My natural inclination towards engineering and problem solving hasn’t changed. However, the tools and techniques I learnt during my apprenticeship, as well as the knowledge I’ve acquired about different machines and materials has helped me design products in an efficient way.

What achievement in your apprenticeship are you most proud of?
My biggest accomplishment was finishing my apprenticeship with distinction grade. Obtaining such a high grade in my apprenticeship is what gave me the motivation to go on to do my degree.

What are the key skills you took away from your apprenticeship?
The confidence to try something new and take risks. Sometimes the things I try work and sometimes they don’t.  When things don’t work, I don’t view this as failing but as an opportunity to learn so I can succeed next time.

Why did you want to remain at Bisley after you completed your apprenticeship?
It’s Bisley’s ability to evolve that drew me in. I’ve always been impressed with the company’s commitment to innovation. The needs of our customers are constantly changing, so it’s exciting to play a part in adapting our products to suit them. The close knit and supportive atmosphere within the company is a bonus!

How has working for Bisley helped you progress in your career?
Bisley has given me the opportunities that I may not have been provided with elsewhere. Instead of being limited to one area, I’m able to expand my horizons and venture to other places. I get to work on various projects such as production engineering, design, purchasing, visiting suppliers, going to exhibitions and interacting with customers. It’s being able to experience the whole process rather than just one part of it that’s helped me progress to where I am today.

What’s an interesting project you’re working on?
At the moment, I’m working on a variety of projects. One of these is developing products for a science college in London. This includes producing layout drawings, cutting lists and any other production tasks that come with creating products for them.

I’m also learning and developing ways to streamline our manufacturing process. This entails creating the same products but changing the methods for producing, designing, developing layouts with a customer’s specification and manufacturing. Alongside getting involved in these processes, I get to communicate with customers to make sure we produce the exact product they’re looking for.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
When I’m able to successfully use a new skill I’ve learnt. Working in engineering, there’s always advancements being made and new techniques coming into play. Because of this, it’s something I get to experience very often.

What’s your favourite Bisley product and why?
It would have to be Glide II. The sliding door is smooth and has a soft closing function, which makes it very easy to open and close. It’s not hard to see why it’s a customer favourite!

If you could give some advice to our current apprentices, what would it be?
Always ask questions and always listen; other people’s knowledge is invaluable.

Do you have and special sayings and expressions?
My favourite expression comes from Steve Job’s autobiography – “simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” I always keep this in mind at work, as designing something simple often leads to some very sophisticated products being created.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. I’d like to be able to go anywhere at any time.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to go mountain biking in the Welsh mountains. It’s hard work to get to the top, but the views and sense of achievement you get when you’re up there makes it very worthwhile.