Welcome to our latest interview feature. Today, we have the privilege of speaking with David Brookes, the newly appointed Head of Sales and Business Development at Grinsty Rail. With a proven track record in the industry, David has recently joined the team, bringing his wealth of experience and innovative approach. In this enlightening conversation, we’ll delve into his professional journey, discuss his fresh perspectives, and learn about his strategic vision for the future growth of Grinsty Rail. Let’s dive right in and get to know more about the new force driving Grinsty Rail forward.
I am delighted to have joined the Grinsty Rail team as the new Head of Sales and Business Development at this really interesting part of the company’s history. In my first few days, I am going to be meeting everybody and getting an understanding of the current product range and future developments. On the 7th of August 2023, I will be starting my 45th year in the railway industry and have worked widely in the UK and had some really good opportunities to travel and meet railway industry companies worldwide. Many of the people I have met started as acquaintances but have become friends.
I am a Derby lad through and through and my Father before me worked at the railway, and Derby is now going to be the home of Great British Railways, which is fantastic news as it is a railway City. My early life was in Alvaston, a small suburb of Derby where I attended Noel Baker school, but to be honest, was not very academic and couldn’t wait to get started in ‘proper’ work. So I applied for an apprenticeship at BREL Derby Carriage Works as a trade apprentice and started on the 7th of August 1978 and never looked back. I even enjoyed going to college and managed to get an ONC in Mechanical/Manufacturing Engineering. Since then, I have also studied business management through the Open University. Whilst at BREL, I got involved in the commercial side of their business and getting involved in quotes and tenders and really enjoyed this, and my career in sales started!
My Career Journey
Within BREL I was lucky enough to have plenty of career progression opportunities and went from being a fitter to the quality inspector, production planner, warranty manager, and commercial manager, but this was during the privatisation period when there were no orders and I decided it was time to look outside of Bombardier at the time and was lucky enough to get an opportunity in the supply chain as a sales engineer with Kidde Fire protection selling fire systems to protect diesel engines on rail vehicles. I really enjoyed the sales side and got to meet some great people and stayed on the rail supply side with a few other companies including Sabre Rail (brakes and dampers), Dellner ( couplers and gangways) and my last role was with Elite KL on HVAC Systems. I have also had some time in commercial roles with DB Schenker working on their strategy for the UK railway market and at Pullmans in Cardiff with commercial offers for full vehicle overhauls. I have worked on and been lucky enough to secure some interesting projects including the ETR 500 project in Italy, Amtrack Flyer in the USA, and more recently some substantial projects with Stadler in Spain for their new tram/trains going into Transport for Wales and Switzerland for the new trams for the Tyne and Wear metro in Newcastle.
Joining Grinsty Rail
After one conversation with Matthew at a Rail Forum event I understood that he and the team were going to build something interesting at Grinsty Rail, which I wanted to be part of. After visiting I could also see the growth potential not only with the current product range but the plans for the future as well, which are really exciting. I want customers to join us on this journey and I want to provide excellent customer service, which will benefit all parties. For my part I want to learn as much as I can and as quickly as I can and grow the business.
What’s the future of Grinsty Rail?
I want Grinsty to consolidate its current market position, follow up on current enquiries and opportunities and then look at new customers and opportunities, which I am confident is very bright. We need to be easy to deal with and encourage visitors to site what we can offer. I think the current political challenges we face, post-COVID, are going to be difficult and who knows what may happen in the next general election, but I am sure rail is going to be seen as a green and sustainable form of travel by whichever party is in power. Technology is also going to play a big part in the future of the industry with things like AI coming more to the fore. My belief is also that we may return to the days of repairing things if it is economical, rather than renewing and I also think work being done in the local area rather than flying stuff round the world is going to be important.