MultiShield

Retirement? Not for me thanks...

Retirement was never going to be Colin Walton's thing. When he stepped down as Bombardier's UK chairman in 2011, the Yorkshireman brought the curtain down on a 45-year career, spent entirely in the railway industry.

That curtain is now up again (in truth, it never really fell). Recently, he became a non-executive director at another Derby rail firm, Garrandale – a company where his friend Malcolm Prentice is chief executive and a place visited by Chancellor George Osborne only last week.

Colin is also chairman of the Derby and Derbyshire Railway Forum, the largest cluster of railway companies in the world, and president of the UK Light Rail Transit Forum.

Furthermore, he is non-executive of VIX Technology, chairman of the Prince's Trust for the East Midlands and a governor at the Derby Manufacturing University Technology College, which opens in Pride Park in September.

He is careful not to commit to any amount of hours in any of the roles, as time must be found for activities more typical of a retired man. In Colin's case, this is family life and making the trip up the M1 to watch his beloved rugby league team Leeds Rhinos.

Once all of that has been put together, it becomes, Colin explains, the perfect way for him to spend his retirement.

"I have a lot of friends who spend four or five days on the golf course," he says, as we meet upstairs at Garrandale, in Alfreton Road. "I play golf extremely badly."

Instead, Colin gets his "buzz" in other ways. He says: "I'm in a very fortunate position of being able to pick and choose what I want to spend my time on."

Colin, 64, needed little persuading when he was invited to join Garrandale's board. He says: "The easy way to explain why I joined is to say 'Malc'."

Garrandale's managing director is Malcolm Prentice, someone Colin has known and respected for quite a few years.

Colin says: "Not only do I enjoy his company, I like how he works and operates.

"I think a lot people think Garrandale is a rail engineering business. That's an important part of its portfolio but it's far bigger than that. It's a group that has a vision of where it wants to go and that vision is set by Malcolm and his top team and it's exciting. It's an exciting place to be."

Colin's role is simple: to help Malcolm shape the company's strategy for growth. He says: "It's all about what we want to do as Garrandale and how we plan to achieve that. So, at the moment, what we've been concentrating on is looking at the work that Garrandale does and the business sectors that it has and see how they fit and work with each other going forward."

To this end, Garrandale recently unveiled a new logo as part of a rebranding exercise. It features a large metallic G encompassing a second smaller metallic G.

Colin says: "The rebranding was about looking at the divisions that Garrandale has – the rail sector, the maintenance sector, the chemical business – and pulling them together in a direction to make the company greater. That does take time, but we're well on with that.

"We've also identified areas that we need to go into. I think gone are the days when we make a little component. We want to do more with companies and our customers – some of whom are household names like Bombardier, Siemens, Rolls-Royce and Nikon. In order to do that, we need to give these companies more of a package – a total solution – as opposed to one piece of metal. It's about how we do that and how we expand our customer base."

Another key target is to bring in more apprentices. Colin says: "I'm passionate about anything to do with apprentices. We've got 100 people here at Garrandale and we're aiming to have 10 apprentices. At the moment, we've already got two in place and we'll working with Toyota to bring in more, who will go through the Toyota training school.

"We also have two apprentices from Germany with us to learn about how SMEs work in the UK. I think to have the German industry recognising that it can learn from SMEs in the UK is quite a vital statement to make. Too many times, we look at German engineering and think we can't do it in the UK. I personally think we can do it every bit as good."

An example is Garrandale's work on the Crossrail project. Working in partnership with composites firm Datum, it is manufacturing the cabs for Bombardier's 65 Crossrail trains. Bombardier awarded the contract to Garrandale and Datum following a joint bid by the two companies.

Colin says: "It's a great partnership. The contract is going well. We're working very closely with Bombardier and the project teams are now looking at the best ways to deliver the commitments that each of us have."