Lewis Taylor says water jetting has taken him a long way: 4,461 miles to be exact. But more of that later.
He started working for an industrial cleaning company in 2010 at the age of 18. Now aged 29, he still loves the job he is doing and is looking forward to more success.
“Water jetting has been very good for me and opened a lot of doors,” Lewis explains. “It has allowed me to buy my own house, to build a home with my partner, start a family and start to build an interesting career.”
Lewis is the first to speak to the Water Jetting Association (WJA) as part of our new Young Guns series, as we look at the experiences and thoughts of people building careers in water jetting.
After leaving school, aged 16, Lewis completed a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Business at college. He then joined an industrial cleaning specialist which later become part of Future Industrial Services, a member of the WJA.
Future Industrial Services provides a wide range of specialist industrial services, specialist metals recovery, hazardous waste treatment and environmental services. But, from day one, water jetting has been a core part of what Lewis does.
He explains: “Water jetting is key to a lot of what we do, either as a specific service for industrial cleaning, surface preparation and cold cutting or to support other services we deliver.
“So, it’s always been a process I’ve been closely involved with. When I first started as a water jetting operative, I didn’t think much of it. But when you first hold a gun and feel what it can do, it quickly gets you focused.
“It’s very satisfying to see the difference you can make in terms of before and after cleaning or surface preparation with water jetting, and there’s a lot to learn, with different techniques and improving the way you apply them.
“You’re always learning and finding out new things. That’s what makes it so satisfying. It’s a challenge that makes you glad to come to work every day.”
Lewis and his colleagues carry out high pressure and ultra-high pressure water jetting for a myriad of tasks, including tank cleaning, tube bundle cleaning, hydrodemolition and to support bulk waste removal.
He works on many different types of industrial sites, including petrochemical works, gas and oil installations, water utility treatment sites and energy generation plants.
“Water jetting has taken me into a lot of interesting industrial sites that other people never get to see,” said Lewis. “It’s expanded my skill sets and my horizons and allowed me to work with a lot of people and companies who really value what you can do for them.”
Those horizons expanded further when Lewis spent some time as an independent water jetting contractor and was taken on by another WJA member to work in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the USA.
That is where the 4,461 miles comes in. “Working in the USA for six months was a real eye opener,” said Lewis. “They do things very differently over there.
“In a way, it confirmed to me that I had skills and professionalism that are respected around the world and that British water jetting sets high standard. It was a real confidence boost.”
Soon afterwards, Lewis returned to Future Industrial Services, and to his hometown of Hull, in East Yorkshire. Travel and working away is still part and parcel of his work as the company supports businesses all over the UK and Ireland.
Along the way, Lewis has picked up a long list of qualifications and tickets, including radiation supervisor (RPS), IPAF working at height, forklift driver training (FLT), excavator operation and, of course, his WJA water jetting card.
And as he has now been promoted to become an operational supervisor, he is currently studying for his IOSH Managing Safely qualification.
Safety is at the heart of everything they do, said Lewis. “As a supervisor, I want to pass on what I’ve learned to others coming up through the ranks and carrying out water jetting safely and competently is a big part of that.”
Lewis is also looking forward. There are still a lot of opportunities at a dynamic company like Future Industrial Services, for example, project planning and supporting business development. Water jetting has taken him on quite a career journey, said Lewis. And there is still a long way to go.