About Mike Forster and Jonny Austin
MIKE FORSTER - OWNER AND MD AT TRIDENT HYDRAULICS LTD
Mike has learnt his trade from the roots up. From the outset he has never compromised on quality, firmly believing that quality should be second to none.
Mike started out as a commercial mobile vehicle fitter. He then got involved with hydraulics, pneumatics, electrics, welding and fabrication, gaining his City and Guild qualifications in the relevant subjects. With all that under his belt he decided he move into design and development. He completed an HND in mechanical design engineering at Warwickshire College, following which he was offered a design job with a Swiss company, designing hydraulic valves. His time was then spent flitting between Switzerland and the UK. It was during this time that Mike not only learnt how to design valves but also came to understand exactly why and how better materials make such a difference when it comes to producing high performance and well-engineered valves.
After leaving the Swiss company, Mike decided to get back out on his own. He bought a van and went back to servicing and repairing customer’s hydraulic and electrical systems. Even in the early days, as a relatively small business, Mike continued to use only the best components. He knew that he couldn’t afford to go out and do the after-sale market repairs if there were faults due to poor quality. By cutting his margins slightly he gained business as customers came to realise that Trident was offering an excellent product and service.
It was whilst he was in this role that Mike noticed machines that often had long periods of down time. When he enquired as to why, he was told that they were waiting for components to come in, some from as far away as the States. Mike couldn’t understand the company’s acceptance at having to wait so long, often as much as 12 weeks. Mike saw an opportunity to expand his business further. He could use his design experience to have the components made here in the UK. Mike would take the component from the company, and redesign using 3D CAD Software, then send the drawings to a machining company, who would then manufacture the component. The result was that the company would have made significant savings and down time was reduced by 50%. It was this development that was really the start of Trident Hydraulics Ltd, which was founded in 2004.
JONNY AUSTIN - OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
Mike has been keen to pass on his knowledge and give youngsters a start, by offering a brilliant opportunity. Mike says, “There are not many places where a young person would learn sales, technical 3D design, electrical design, Sage and how a business is run all in one place”.
He now has Jonny Austin (25) on board, who had been a vehicle fitter for eight years. Jonny started as a mobile service engineer, then when a designer left the company, Mike believed Jonny had the right skills to take on that role. Mike has mentored him throughout his training and said, “I saw myself in Jonny; he had the right aptitude for design and development, so I gave him the opportunity.”
Jonny, who is now operations director, will gain his relevant qualifications through the company. Jonny says, “It’s something I really enjoy. I wish I had come into it sooner, but previously it hadn’t been an option. Mike has been a great mentor.”
Jonny is now designing a system starting from discussion with the client to a full design brief on the computer to seeing it being manufactured and assembled on the shop floor - that must be a great feeling.