When Damian Tambling turned up for his first day at EMR's fridge plant facility in Willesden, North London, little did he know that he would one day become the site's General Manager.
“I started out as a labourer. It was my second job in the UK after moving here from Zimbabwe. I was living with my family in Oxford at the time. A friend of mine convinced me to move to London and start working for EMR. We worked four days on and four days off and the shift pattern really suited me at the time,”
That was in 2004 and, since then, Damian has been on a journey of career progression. As General Manager of EMR Willesden, he now manages one of the firm’s busiest and most sophisticated UK sites.
After working as a labourer, the next step in Damian’s story was training to gain a forklift driver’s licence:
“This role gave me a new perspective on how the fridge recycling process works. That then helped me take the leap to fridge plant supervisor.”
While Damian was beginning to forge a successful career at a world-leading metal recycling business, closer to home he was also busy starting a family.
“When my son was born, I couldn’t work the same shifts at the fridge plant, so I looked for a role that would allow me to be at home during evenings and weekends.”
It helped that EMR Willesden is home to three separate facilities including a shredder and an end-of-life vehicle unit as well as the fridge plant.
“In the end, I made the decision to change roles and become a weighbridge operator,”
Moving between the departments meant that Damian, once again, had to learn a whole new set of skills.
Far from being a backwards step, however, he was able to begin learning the ropes of management, deputising for the assistant fridge plant manager during holidays.
“While I was in the weighbridge office, my manager was really preparing me to take on his role when he retired,”
Damian explains. His manager became something of a mentor to Damian, providing him with the confidence that he could rise all the way to General Manager.
“When I explain my story to the labourers at the fridge plant today, they find it inspiring. It’s hard work, but there will always be opportunities for career progression if you want them,”
Damian says that his career path has given him a unique insight into the transformation of the recycling industry during the past 17 years.
“Health and safety is a major focus across the industry and we have risk assessments for everything we do as a business. We are also going through the process of ISO accreditation for safety, environmental and quality management systems. As General Manager, I will soon be showing independent auditors around our site, highlighting EMR’s industry-leading best practice standards.”
Of course, another major driver for change in the recycling industry is its essential role in the UK achieving net-zero. As the only shredder site in central London, EMR Willesden has been particularly affected by the recent expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
“Like the rest of my team, I’ve had to change my car or face paying an extra £12.50 a day to come to work,” Damian explains. “So, it’s something that is affecting us as a team. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of cars being scrapped – currently 150 per week. Its’s a preview of how the world is going to change for everybody.”
And, as the pace of change in the industry continues to increase, it is people like Damian who have grown with the business over the past two decades that ensures EMR’s culture of professionalism, excellence and care is maintained at every level.