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Today we launch our Meet the Metals Team series, bringing you behind the scenes and spotlighting our team's expertise. First up is Derek Mitchell, Machine Operator at John Lawrie Metals. We're proud to say Derek has been a key part of the team for over 20 years. Today Derek shares his insight into embracing challenges, the daily work that makes him proud and provides key advice for the next generation. Keep following over the next few weeks as Derek tells us more about his career journey.

How long have you worked at John Lawrie Metals?

When I first joined John Lawrie, I painted skips originally and then moved on to being a skip driver. I went off to do some other things and then returned to the company in 2002 to work the cleaver shear for a number of years before moving on to the grabs. I also drove the roll-on roll-off skip lorry for three years, as well as working in the store sorting the non-ferrous metals. Throughout my time here I’ve more or less covered all areas of the yard. I also really enjoyed working with my colleague David Murray, Projects & Decommissioning Operations Manager, doing out and about decommissioning jobs.

Have you always worked in the scrap metal industry? Or what other roles have you had before?

I first started as a motorcycle mechanic but then had to have an operation to pin both my hips when I was 17, which impacted mobility and therefore what and how much I could do. That’s when I started painted the skips for John Lawrie.

What does your job entail? What is a typical day like?

Mostly processing the scrap metal through the shear and working the grabs.

What’s your favourite part of your job? What makes you proud of your job?

D.M: When I get put on a job where there’s a bit of challenge. I like working out how to overcome the challenge and then working my way through to the end. I enjoy that sense of satisfaction. I like finishing a project and looking back a clean site knowing that I did that.  

What advice do you have for those who aspire to work in the industry?

Be prepared to graft. But also, don’t be put off – our industry has a bit of negative connotation, but our team is made up of highly skilled professionals and they are the best at what they do. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but we are experts at what we do, and we take pride in doing a good job.

Where are you from?

I’m a local guy from Cove Bay.

Where did you go to school?

Cove Primary and then Kincorth Academy.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I’m a big fan of rallying, I used to drive once upon a time. So yeah, I guess I enjoy motorsport in general, but also music, I love going to concerts – I’d love to be able to sing! And of course, I have my two dogs which I enjoy taking out for big, long walks. I also enjoy taking on challenges to raise money for charity. In 2020 I planned to drive my 50cc motorbike from Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of Charlie House, but due to CVOD we had to delay. We did it in 2021 and raised £18,000 in the process. And I’ve been thinking about doing another challenge this year, but nothing has been confirmed yet.  

Any pets?

Two dogs, a chocolate Labrador and a working cocker spaniel. And my tortoise, Bert, can’t forget about Bert.

Who or what inspires you?

D.M: I’ve always looked up to my dad, and Dave Weston (although I maybe shouldn’t tell him that!)

Coffee or tea?

D.M: Tea