Managing Director of Cobra Engineering achieves 30 year milestone

Lyndon Clancey, Managing Director of Cobra Engineering, has seen a great deal of change since he joined the company in 1993 at the age of 21. Arriving on the shop floor as a welder fabricator with a focus on the water industry, Lyndon spent the next eight years travelling all over the country with his Stick welding equipment. In those days, the company had four vans and one lorry, with many employees using their own vehicles to travel to sites.

“I used to go out seven days a week in all weathers but Stick welding of mild and stainless steel has become a bit of a lost art! It is all TIG welds now.” Lyndon said.

There have been many positive changes since the start of his career, with improvements in safety and working conditions as well as huge leaps forward in technology. Long gone are the 70-80 hour working weeks and having to request a weekend off!

The Rise of Cobra Engineering

When the company began in 1982, the bulk of Cobra’s work was on tanks and conveyors, working with stainless steel with 80% of jobs being time and materials. The company employed good engineers and welders with backgrounds in steel fabrication. They were neat workers, which was critical because high quality finishing was super important back then. Everyone really cared and took immense pride in their work, so Cobra began to develop a good reputation for the quality of its projects.

Being an apprentice at Cobra Engineering is still difficult today because of the expectation to become multi-skilled and produce high quality work from the outset. However, apprentices receive exceptional levels of  comprehensive training, which when completed, they are set for life! Whether they remain with Cobra, (which many of them do), or not, you can never take the ‘Cobra Standards’ out of them!

The job has become even more demanding over the years, with more red tape, site certifications and training requirements to meet the demands of bigger projects and larger clients. The Cobra team now is more multi-skilled and very capable of working on several large projects at any one time.

As well as changes in training and operations, the company has seen changes to its facilities too. In 1995, the mild steel workshop was built and in 2005, Cobra bought the fields at the side of the building, converting them into a car park for their growing fleet of vehicles and employees.

During Covid-19, members of the Cobra team were classed as key workers supporting the large food factories and power stations. They overcame many challenges during those difficult times, working all the way through the pandemic supporting their key customers. During this time, it became even more important than ever for the team to work together, and this is a legacy that has continued in the years since. In fact, Cobra has never been as strong and as solid as it is now.

The strength of the company lies in its ability to build strong customer relationships. These can be challenging to maintain, especially when contacts and personnel change. Customer relationships are a primary focus for the business. Proof in point is the fact that Cobra has long-standing customers that they have worked alongside for many years. In some cases, Cobra personnel know their customers’ factories better than their customers!

Lyndon’s Career Progression

After eight years with the company, Lyndon was asked to become General Foreman. Moving from the shop floor to this new role, managing people and relationships was challenging. He was keen to pass on his knowledge and strong work and quality ethics in the correct way to others. Although the hours were long and arduous at times, it was a major step for him and the people around him. During this time Lyndon developed the people skills and laser-sharp focus on high standards of workmanship that has become one of his trademarks.

Eight years later, Lyndon progressed further becoming a Project Manager, looking after the Lamb Western account. At this time, 60-70% of Cobra business was with food factories, and as the business grew, Lyndon built key relationships with Princes Foods and the PM Group.

The next sector that Cobra entered was the water and waste water industry followed by the energy industry in 2010. Several power stations became important clients for the business, with Lyndon looking after these accounts throughout the UK.

One of the biggest projects Lyndon remembers as a Project Manager was for the PM Group in 2016/17. Cobra was brought in after another firm had lost the contract in Davidstow for Dairy Crest. The project required a multi-skilled approach, lasted almost 18 months and was worth over £1.6 million. This was rapidly followed by another 18 month project requiring Cobra’s multi-skilled engineers, worth around £1.8 million. Cobra won further contracts with Princes Food in 2019 to decommission and remove machinery and instal new turn key projects. This success was built on the strength of Cobra’s relationships with the client, the trust built and the willingness of Cobra to ‘go the extra mile’ in ensuring the client was fully delighted with the work delivered.

“You never know what’s just around the corner. It’s the strength of the relationships that have paid dividends for Cobra. You must do the mileage in building and maintaining relationships” Lyndon said.

Even when he was a Project Manager, Lyndon remained hands-on, helping people behind the scenes and offering unending support to the Cobra team. He still enjoyed being in the workshops and engaged in the day to day running of the business prior to becoming the Managing Director. As well as his own personal development, Lyndon helped colleagues to develop too, recognising that Cobra had to move with the times to grow as a business.

Becoming Managing Director

When Mac (the former owner of Cobra), announced he was selling to new investors, it was Lyndon’s opportunity to step up to the position of Managing Director, thus providing continuity for the Cobra team.

Lyndon has become the lynchpin of Cobra’s success through hard work, dedication and an unshakeable confidence in the Cobra team. He fosters a proactive approach to problem solving and believes there is no problem they cannot solve for their clients. He attributes much of his success to his wife Hayley, who has supported him throughout years of working long days and weekends. She has always been there for him while running their home and looking after their children.

Since he took on the Managing Director role, Lyndon has been behind many changes at Cobra, from business development, working on the company structure, to supporting and developing people, skills and systems. And as a result, the business has continued to grow rapidly, with turnover increasing from £3.5 million to over £6 million per annum in the past 3 years.

Looking forward, Lyndon said, “I’m enthusiastic about where the company is going. We have plans for further investment, expanding the business premises and taking advantage of opportunities to work in new ways. I will continue to grow Cobra and share my knowledge and experience with the team to help them develop. We have the best team to take the business forward into an exciting future.”

 

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