When you’ve lived in the same city for half a century, it becomes your DNA. This year as Caley hits the golden 5-0, I’ve been reflecting on what makes Caley, Caley. And a lot of that is the city around us.
When Caley first opened its doors in 1968, Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry was embarking on a new era: Upper Clyde Shipbuilders was formed by the government in the same year to rescue the failing Fairfield yard and shipbuilding in Govan. A few fractured decades followed, full of walk-ins, depressed markets, company acquisitions and rousing speeches. Mercifully, BAE Systems came to the rescue in 1999 building their destroyers and aircraft carriers. Looking out from our office in Govan today, our neighbouring River Clyde is now home to businesses invested in technology, the creative arts and media – each of them breaking their own boundaries and making their own waves. Throughout its history the River Clyde has been home to pioneers, and it’s been home to us.
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to benefit directly from Glasgow’s engineering history. A lot of our early staff had worked in the yards, on the boats, and in the Navy, and shared their knowledge and experience with younger, newer members of the company. They shaped the equipment we made, establishing us as a leader in offshore handling systems – systems which went all over the world and flew the flag for Scottish engineering, lately seen with our Third-Generation Submarine Launch and Recovery System for the Indian Navy, which mobilises faster than the systems before it. As Glasgow has a long history with the navy, so do we: this is the sixth navy we’ve supplied systems to.
We still benefit from the engineers Glasgow produces. Most of our staff have graduated from Glasgow, Strathclyde or Glasgow Caledonian universities, several doing so with joint degrees from the Glasgow School of Art. With these universities climbing the league tables, it’s no wonder our engineers are some of the best, and now that we’re part of the Seanamic Group, their knowledge and skills are being shared with sister companies in the UK and in Houston.
Over the years we’ve worked closely with Glasgow and Strathclyde University, offering summer placements for final year students. Many of these have come to work with us as graduates, and are now fully-fledged engineers, taking on responsibilities, working with clients and, ultimately, designing world-class offshore handling systems for the energy, defence and oceanographic science industries. It’s opportunities like these which will ensure Glasgow’s rich engineering heritage is preserved and praised in the future.
But we don’t stop at heavy engineering. Glasgow’s design culture is filtering through the company – most recently seen with the visual rendering software we’ve embedded into our design, manufacturing, client training and sales processes. Through using virtual reality on an almost-daily basis, we’ve founded links with the Glasgow School of Art, research institutes and film companies. It’s the beginning of what I’m sure will be a vibrant future.
I’m sure you’ve seen the signs proclaiming that People Make Glasgow. It’s a city full of innovation, pioneering spirit, hard work and creativity. Glasgow, we couldn’t be Caley without you.