A team with 55 Years of Experience in Stainless Steel Product Design. L-R: Nathan Cornes, Scott Eccles, Robin Hardcastle and Dean Johnson

If you’re thinking of a career in UK manufacturing or if you buy stainless steel products and just want a little insight into who makes them….


Pland Stainless is a Leeds-based manufacturer of commercial stainless-steel products. They put part of their success down to their employee retention record, which is well above average with many employees achieving over 30 years of service with the business. Pland employs traditional skilled tradesmen and regularly recruits apprentices to learn and continue these skills.  It’s this experience and knowledge that gives them a competitive advantage, especially with such a large range of specialist products and a growing proportion of bespoke designs they create and manufacture.


This month we talked with the Engineering & Design team at Pland.  There are four key players within this team who play a pivotal role in creating new products and re-engineering products, where innovation in product development is the lifeblood of the business.  Between the Technical & Purchasing Manager Dean and Design Engineer Robin, who have almost 50 years of sheet metal work experience at Pland between them, there is little they don’t know about stainless steel product production, and they create a perfect training ground to develop and coach their apprentices.


Dean worked in sheet metal for a number of years before he joined Pland and he now leads the team who work closely with clients to create stainless steel product solutions across a range of commercial markets. Whether that’s designing a new drinking fountain, a champagne trough, a mortuary trolley or a healthcare sluice sink, the same design principles and tools apply. Simply put they use CAD software to assist them and once the design is approved, they convert these drawings into work orders and decide which equipment in the factory is best placed to produce the product.  It takes a lot of experience, and the training is intense, but the skill is much in demand and their apprentices are learning from the best.

bespoke product design

The team works across departments, here is Robin discussing a new design with Gary Pearson (left), Sales Manager.


The Senior development engineer Robin Hardcastle joined Pland from school in 1993 and learnt valuable skills in roles throughout the factory before moving into the technical design team. He is best placed not only to understand how the stainless steel material can be manufactured into a product, but also in coaching and mentoring the junior members of the team.


The team currently includes two apprentices at different stages of their training. Technical Apprentice, Nathan Cornes, joined Pland in 2019 and now plays an important role in programming the CNC laser cutting machine and handling design for two of the company’s key accounts. He is also involved in the robotic polishing machine which supports factory processes. Nathan has completed a level 3 engineering apprenticeship and is currently enrolled in a level 4 engineering apprenticeship. He has gained valuable skills through his apprenticeship and hands-on experience and is fast becoming a highly regarded team member.

Scott Eccles is a first-year apprentice and is already involved in creating 3D designs and 2D drawings for special customer projects. He has also received training on the new Robot welding machine to support the factory. Scott is enrolled in a level 4 engineering apprenticeship at Leeds college to supplement his hands on training at Pland. He’s learning quickly and is a valued member of the team.


Manufacturing and engineering businesses like Pland Stainless can offer school leavers great career opportunities.  Successful manufacturers rely heavily on teamwork, where all roles are important, and everyone pulls together with their different strengths, abilities, and drive to deliver a solution for their customers. The roles vary a lot, some are complex to master, and others require lots of attention to detail, but all are key and important to the business, so there really is something to suit all.


Pland has a long-standing reputation for producing stainless steel products mainly for the commercial market.  Their products are targeted at many sectors including healthcare, sanitaryware, washrooms, laboratory, education, catering, janitorial or their anti-vandal range for secure accommodation.



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