Alister O’Neill Appointed as Production Manager at Hythe Marine

An introduction to Hythe’s newest team member.

Alister O’Neill first came into contact with Hythe Marine Services (HMS) as a subcontracted welder whilst working for Elta Fans Ltd. After gaining years of experience working within the marine, automotive and military industries, Alister is now joining Hythe Marine as a Production Manager.

Under his new role, Alister will be taking the lead on project, team and production processes. His extensive background within the marine industry and with welding inspection will be a valuable addition to the workforce at Hythe Marine.

Hythe Marine Services’ support to customers has been continually growing at a manageable rate. Josh Mathias, Hythe Marine’s Managing Director, told us “we have been able to take our time employing the correct person to ensure the continuation of quality service and on-time delivery”.

To support this growth, a significant part of Alister’s new role will involve the Quality, Safety, Health & Environment (QSHE) side of the business. Some of his main focuses will be quality control, business and production efficiencies as well as health and safety. Alister will also have a direct line to the welding and compliance team, in order to improve and maintain high production standards.

From Apprentice to Production Manager

At the start of his working life, Alister was an apprentice at FBM Marine on the Isle of Wight. Skills gained during his apprenticeship included welding and making aluminium parts for ferries and lifeboats. After his apprenticeship, Alister worked as a chargehand, whilst continuing to provide welding services within the marine and automotive industries.

Alister’s next role was as a welder with Elta Fans Ltd., a leading manufacturer specialising in large bespoke fans. It was with Elta Fans that Alister continued to develop and obtain additional qualifications to become a Certified Welding Inspector. In this role, Alister was subcontracted to Hythe Marine where he spent a lot of time on-site working with, and getting to know, Hythe Marine Services.

Alister’s career has demonstrated the rewards of working hard and maintaining high standards. The move to Production Management was after a production-based Foreman role where Alister told us, “I worked my way up from the Foreman of a large factory to the Production Manager of a smaller site.”

After Elta Fan’s Ltd, Alister moved to his new role as a Works Manager at Veotec (now part of the Woz Group). He stayed with Veotec for 5 years, making high-end separators, eliminators and filtration equipment for the oil, gas and marine market. The role at Veotec involved managing the majority of the production process – “After design, the entire production process was down to me, all the way through to packaging, shipping and transport.”

Due to company changes, Alister turned down a new position within the company which would involve a relocation. Because of this, he completely changed his role, company and industry and moved to Eberspächer UK. At this company, Alister was the Production Manager for a multi-million pound foreign military project. His main responsibility was setting up a lean production line to facilitate the production of 1,500 units at the lowest cost. “I was there to set up a 5S, lean manufacturing production line,” and it was after this project that Alister took on the role of Production Manager at Hythe Marine Services.

In a snapshot, Alister is “Very efficient, hard-working with a strong ability to multitask.”

Prioritising quality is always at the forefront of his work and projects, and he believes that nothing substandard should ever leave a site. Customers pay for a good product and the team should be proud of everything they produce.

Years of experience in welding and an inspection background has honed Alister’s strong attention to detail. He stated, “I’m very practical. Coming from a welding background and the marine industry I understand what it takes, from the ground up, to produce a product.”

The Role of a Production Manager

For Alister, the role of a Production Manager means being the central hub of a project to find and iron out any problems. Another key aspect of the role is collating and communicating information to make everybody aware of how the products will be produced, “I see the role of Production Manager as the main link or conduit between the workforce, project and design engineers.” 

Within a Production Manager role, it’s necessary to plan and react appropriately to external and internal factors. These may include changes in demand, the capacity of machine and floor and availability of skills. The overall responsibility is to ensure outputs are at the required quality, specification and within cost parameters.

As well as the Production side of the role there is a strong focus on people-management, creating a multifunctional workforce. Alister believes in investing time with people to develop their skills. In terms of allocating roles within projects, Alister said: “It’s about matching the right team to the right job based on reading people, their ways of working, and the work they turn out.” 

When asked what he’s most looking forward to in his new role Alister stated, “I have a strong understanding of the marine industry, particularly within the welding and fabrication services side of the business and am looking forward to getting more involved in these areas!”