World Environment Day 2019 - Air Pollution

World Environment Day has returned, this year focusing on the topic ‘Air Pollution’. We have a strong environmental policy at Thorpes, based around our legal and moral duties as a responsible company that recognises the impact of our works on the environment. Today we are sharing all the things that we do to help combat Air Pollution. With our brand new office and factory opening in 2017, we don’t have any excuse to not meet such high environmental standards.

This is just a few of the things that we are doing and striving to continuously improve in the best way we can at Thorpes.

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Office & Factory Design:

When our new headquarters was in the design process, we wanted a light, open and airy space for both our office and factory team. Both areas in our facility feature high ceilings and an open plan design allowing efficient air flow throughout. Our offices were also fitted with smart heating, air conditioning and ventilation, as well as a number of windows to allow natural light and air flow.

Spray Shop:

Although our spray shop is only 18 months old we have been continuously making improvements in this area. The Sprayshop facility utilises a Dryback filtration system in order remove any VOC’s, solid particles and solvents prior to release to atmosphere. To improve both the efficiency and the operation of these filters and to ease the load on the extraction fans, an engineered solution has been put in place that draws unrestricted air through external venting at the rear of the Factory.  The aim of the redesign and improvements to the spray shop was to reduce running costs, put less burden on the extraction system and introduce a more efficient use of the hot water provided from burning our own waste and this solution has so far been delivering this.

FACTORY EXTRACTION:

The Factory areas utilise both “High Pressure Low Volume” and “Low Pressure High Volume” systems to remove dust and waste at source via the extraction system. This prevents dust build-up and allows us to maintain a clean, tidy and safe working environment.

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Paints & Lacquers:

To reduce the emissions in our manufacturing facility we in the process of moving from solvent based paints and lacquers to water based and CFC solvent free products.

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Recycling:

We recycle in many ways at Thorpes, ensuring that all office waste including paper, cardboard, printer cartridges, IT and electrical equipment is recycled in an appropriate manner. We also recycle materials used for packing and storage by returning them from site for re-use as well as donating relevant products to the community.

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Landfill Waste:

To reduce the amount of product we send to landfill we regularly use a pre-treatment process for recyclable goods. We also have our own biomass boiler that conforms to the ‘Clean Air Act’.

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Vehicle Emissions:

All of our newly purchased light and heavy goods vehicles fall under the Euro 6 specification meaning lower emissions and efficient running costs. We also encourage the use of rail and public transport for our contracts and fixing staff who are regularly visiting projects across the country.


If you’d like to read some more into this years ‘Air Pollution’ topic then click the button below.


Welcome to the Team - New Hires

Our team continues to grow. Since our last ‘Welcome to the Team’ post back in February, we have welcomed another eight people to Thorpes. All of them in varied roles across our facility and each of them bringing something special to the team.

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QUAID - CNC OPERATOR

Quaid is a known face to many at Thorpes as eight years ago he was part of our Spray Shop team where he remained for four years before moving on to become an acoustic panel manufacturer for one of our previous associated companies. We welcomed Quaid back to Thorpes in March, now employed as a CNC Operator.

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JENNY - DRAUGHTING

Jenny has recently joined the team after relocating from Buckinghamshire. She has a 1st Class degree in Furniture Design & Craft which she achieved in 2011 and has since been building her experience in the industry working as a Senior Project Manager and also a Project & Accounts Manager before she joined us at Thorpes at the beginning of May.

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DOMINIC - DRAUGHTING

Dom, alongside Jenny is also one of our most recent recruits, joining our draughting team after spending the last two and a half years working as a Draughtsman for a shop fitting company. He studied Product Design at Coventry University for four years. A great addition to our team.

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DAVE - SPRAY SHOP

Dave joined the Spray Shop team at the end of February and has been loving the new change. Previously working as part of a team of shoe and bag manufacturers, he decided to take the jump into a new industry. Dave is also a keen golf player and does extra part time work for our local sports teams, Leicester City & Leicester Tigers.

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DIMITAR - JOINER

Dimitar is no stranger to this industry. Previously working in Corian, Fabricating and Kitchen fitting, he brings over 15 years of knowledge to our team. Dimitar has been busy working with both our corian team and joiners. He joined us in April and has been enjoying his variety of work.

TAKIN - DRAUGHTING

Takin made the move from Tehran to England in 2002. In his home country he was employed as a Graphic Designer but since migrating to England he has achieved a degree in Architectural Design and has been working in the construction industry, building his knowledge in product design and architecture. He has also familiarised himself with many software’s used in construction. Takin’s knowledge has brought a new design element to our team, which we are extremely excited about.

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MICALA - PURCHASE LEDGER & ACCOUNTS CLERK

Micala joined the team just two weeks ago, previously working as a Purchase Ledger and Bookkeeper, she brings over twenty years’ experience to our team. Before taking up a long-term career in the finance sector, Micala previously worked as a machinist making clothing and also worked abroad in Israel.

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BEN - APPRENTICE JOINER

We believe Apprenticeships are a great way to get people into the construction industry, through hands on learning we see our apprentices develop high levels of skills and great craftsmanship. Ben is one of our new apprentices who we welcomed to the team in April and is currently studying Carpentry and Joinery at college. Ben is also a competitive trampolinist!


If you’re interested in joining the Thorpes team then click the link below to visit our vacancies page

Spotlight On: Feature Ceilings

The design of a ceiling can completely change the look and feel of an office space. Feature ceilings have long been a popular element of our repertoire here at Thorpes and we’re grateful that we are given the opportunity to create uniquely bespoke, unconventional and particularly eye-catching designs for our clients.

Timber slatted or paneled ceilings are now often included in many office fit outs, providing greater benefits to both the look and feel of an office space when compared with the the standard foam paneled ceilings we seen in many workspaces. The visual and acoustic qualities of bespoke feature ceilings are some of the obvious benefits, but the influence that this can have on an overall space is notable.

Timber feature ceilings such as this one at Mastercard, provide wide reaching benefits to office design

Timber ceilings give an office environment a classic, yet distinct look. As with any timber product they are remarkably versatile, able to be manufactured to complement any colour schemes thanks to the many varieties of timber, and the ease at which these can be finished before installation.

Our timber system is acoustic in nature, reducing little to no notorious noise levels that can be transferred across floors or adjacent rooms keeping acoustics in it’s respective areas.

A common use of a wooden paneling system is to lower the height of a ceiling or to hide and disguise plumbing and other building elements which would better be left covered up for those with an aesthetic eye.

This slatted wooden raft ceiling we designed, manufactured and installed for our client, Mastercard back in 2015

Made up of 27 Solid FSC grade European Oak slats, this wooden ceiling is suspended on stainless steel wires held by steel bow shackles, covering up parts of office infrastructure that have been painted black for that extra disguise.

Due to the size of this raft, the manufacturing and installation process had to be split into a number of sections. Each section of the raft was assembled by a modeez modular fitting. Once this feature ceiling was installed, drop lighting fittings were added to aid in creating this bright and open breakout space for staff.

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Thorpes Work Experience

Last week we welcomed college student Jack to Thorpes HQ for a weeks work experience.

Jack, like many others his age, is feeling a little unsure about what he wishes to do in the future, so we gave him the opportunity to create his own project and experience two very different roles this week, working alongside both the Marketing and Factory Teams.

Read his excellent blog below to find out more about how he got on.


On being told by my college that I was required to complete a work experience program, I was delighted. It was the chance to go out into the real world and experience what life would be like post-education. Previously, in the summer, I had completed three weeks work at Thorpes on the shop floor but for this week I decided I wanted to see more of how the factory ran and how it can appear to function effortlessly.

As a student I am faced with the tough task of choosing possible career paths to explore and this week was the perfect way for me to experience a different side to business and broaden my horizons even more. Marketing Manager Jamie Thorpe introduced me to the roles and responsibilities he shared and immediately I was excited for the week that lay ahead.

It wouldn’t all be office work though. Getting the chance to design my own project and carry it out on the shop floor was an opportunity I couldn’t wait to get started. In my previous experience at Thorpes I was assisting others and helping them out in any way that I could but this freedom was exciting, a chance to show off my skills and learn more about the trade.


Step one: Panel sizing

My first step to constructing my masterpiece was to cut the smaller panels for a bookcase to their core size based on the drawing that had been completed on Monday in the office. The panels were all 18mm and able to go through the lipper resulting in the finished product being clean and wonderfully executed.


Panels ready to go

Even on the short walk from the joiner’s bench I was working on to the sander, the feel of the factory was explicitly light and welcoming. Whether I had been introduced or not there was always question of how am I which ensured, in my mind, that Thorpes was a company with its employees at heart. The purpose of calibrating the panels is to ensure that when the panels go in the press, they don’t have lumps and blemishes as the unfinished wood will create an uneven surface resulting in a poor finish. This guarantees that quality products leave the factory and arrive safely on site ready to be fitted and finished to a superior standard.


Panels in the early veneer process

Whilst this was all going on, veneer leaves were getting prepared, ready to be pressed.

Once both the veneers and the panels were ready it was time to press the various sections of the bookcase to give them their oak finish. This process was completely alien to me but by the end of the day I was able to prepare a panel and clean it up ready for the next stage in production.

All that was needed now was to cut the panels from core size down to finished size. This involves using the panel sizer, a machine that I used on my last time working here. Due to this I was given more of a free role and this gave me the confidence to be able to cut the panels down and remove them safely to minimise the chance of breaking the panels or snapping the veneer.


I was guided throughout by the talented factory team

With all the panels now being the right size, we had all the components to be able to construct the bookcase. To prevent everything on the shelves from falling out of the back, a thin backboard was cut. A small groove was required to slot the backboard in before screwing it firmly into the sides and the central divide to prevent it from falling out of place and having the contents tumbling out after it. The machine needed to complete this was the spindle.


The next process involves putting in biscuit holes and gluing the panels together. When this process is done the cramps to hold the panels in place must be applied gently. When the areas that needed to be cut are highlighted a biscuit jointer is used to cut in the gaps in the panels where the biscuits will fit in order to glue the hold bookcase together. It is at this stage the pieces be slotted together for the first time to see what the whole case will look like.

When the unit is together loosely like this it is imperative to ensure that the bookcase does not fall and, as a result, break on the floor. However, a major positive of constructing the bookcase like this is that it is easily visible to see where all of the screws and nickel pegs will be inserted. Jigs can then be constructed and used to accurately drills holes where the screws will go to hold the shelves and the back board in place.


Penultimate steps completed

The edges around the case will need to be sanded using an edge sander and then the rest of the panel faces will be sanded using a drum sander to make sure that all of the faces of all the panels are ready to be sprayed and no blemishes will emerge and ruin the design of the case. Once this is done the corners and edges will need to be arrised up and finished by hand to provide a clean and professional finish.

Then it was all taken to the spray shop to be sprayed and finished up to highlight the lovely colour and pattern of the oak used.


Once this is complete I was at the penultimate stage where the panels are ready to be glued together and constructed. Because the biscuit holes are in it is just a case of gluing the biscuits in and attaching the connecting panel before using quick cramps to hold them resolute. The only elements that are not for gluing and cramping are the shelves and also the top. It is important to not attach the longer cramps directly on the wood as this can cause damage to the product.

A block of sanded wood should be placed between the cramp and the side panel to make sure that the Thorpes high standard of work is adhered to. Once the glue is dry the nickel pegs can be inserted into the holes and at this stage the bookcase begins to look complete. Lifting the top slowly and approaching with caution is sensible at this stage as the heavy top could damage the whole bookcase should it be dropped by accident. Even on the closing stages of production, the Thorpes team ensure that all manufactured goods are finished to an exquisite level.

The finished product!

As a whole the project was amazing to work on especially considering I have never had the chance to take part in a project on my own like this before. The skills I have learned will be able to be carried across into all aspects of my life. Working with people who are older than I am is really helpful as obviously their life experience long outweighs mine and the advice that they give can be really useful and does help my decisions in further education.

The support they have given me has helped me to build my bookcase and without the aid and guidance it would not be complete. The final design is very good and I am happy with the finish but it will not be able to be fully evaluated before it is placed in its intended position to ensure that it fits well. All the measurements were taken and followed precisely, checking at each stage, and the finished product matched the drawing perfectly. The project was a great experience for me to see what life at Thorpes is like and I have enjoyed my time here greatly and want to thank all of the staff for letting me come and have this amazing experience.

National Apprentice Week 2019 - Career Pathways

We are proud of all of our Apprentices both past and present, and so we are delighted to celebrate National Apprentice Week 2019 here at Thorpes.

We are fortunate to have trained apprentices since our inception over 70 years ago, as we firmly believe they provide fantastic opportunities for growth both personally and professionally which opens many career pathways for the future.

Many of those who have completed apprenticeships chose to remain with us, and we spoke to some from different parts of our company to find out first-hand how an apprenticeship has benefited them.

Take a look at their timelines below:

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So where can an Apprenticeship in Construction take you?

Well, we believe with commitment and hard work, they can take you just about anywhere you want to go in the industry, as proven by the two journeys above - both Simon and Scott started in similar positions but have taken up roles in completely differing departments, highlighting the wonderful variation available in our industry.

Thorpes is the perfect example of this, with apprentices in various factory and office departments from bench joiners through to designers.

If you’re interested in an apprenticeship with us here please do get in touch below, we would love to hear from you.