If you’re considering a career in a UK manufacturing business or if you buy stainless steel products and just want a little insight into who makes them, this article is for you…

Pland Stainless is a Leeds-based manufacturer of commercial stainless-steel products. They put a 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 Welding team at Pland. There are four in the team specifically dedicated to welding but due to shift patterns it’s hard to pin them all down, so the three we caught, from left to right are Lead Welder Andrew Priestley with trainee welder Kirk Melhuish and Mark Sykes. The final member of the team is Andrew’s son, Jack Priestley who’s missing from the photo.  They are a great team and key to the business as together they have over 75 years of experience in welding an array of different products for Pland.

Welding is a fabrication process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by using high heat to melt the parts together and allowing them to cool causing fusion.  It’s different from lower temperature techniques such as brazing or soldering, which do not melt the base metal.


Welders at the Pland Stainless factory are especially skilled as they are welding thin material which is much more difficult to do. They use a form of welding called TIG, which is the most commonly used stainless steel welding process, it creates a low heat input, making it perfect for this thin material as Pland produce products from 0.9 to 2.0mm stainless steel. TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas welding, also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, an arc welding process that produces the weld with a non-consumable tungsten electrode. The TIG welder use their skills to control the arc length between the torch they hold and the materials, one hand supplying the filler material (usually a fine wire of 316 grade stainless steel) and the other hand guiding the electrode to the work surface. The helmet they wear is critical to protect the welder, it features a very dark visor which makes seeing the job very difficult indeed, so a lot of their work is simply done by touch and experience, with dexterity being the watchword for this skill.  The challenge is to ensure everything’s in place before their visor is dropped and the welding begins.

The team work on a variety of different jobs from welding corners on urinals to welding a kitchen sink onto its frame and Andy, who heads the team, is responsible for handing out the jobs to his team, tailoring the work to their experience and skill set.  The team vary in their skill level, Andy being the most experienced skilled welder, and the work is physical having to lift and carry many different stainless steel products to work on each day. The variety of work makes for a varied and busy day throughout their weekly shifts.

Kirk is a new recruit and joined Pland as a trainee from Leeds Building College last September. It will take 4 years to complete his training but having qualified as a welder in stainless steel allows him to easily weld other materials.

Manufacturing and engineering businesses like Pland Stainless can offer school leavers great career opportunities. They have a selection of desk-based and manual roles and with on-the-job training, many employees that may have started in an unskilled role become semi-skilled and then skilled over the years as experience and, if required, work-based qualifications are earned.  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.



Back to all News

Get in touch

Stay in touch

icon address

Lower Wortley Ring Road, Leeds, LS12 6AA

icon phone number

+44 (0) 113 263 4184   

icon fax number

+44 (0) 113 231 0560

icon opening times

Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 4.30pm

© Copyright Pland Stainless Ltd 2021. All rights reserved.      |     Conditions of sale      |     Privacy Policy      |     Environmental statement
Registered Company Number: 4008116      |     VAT Number: GB 747 1555 18