Whale Tankers

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Whale Tankers's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Whale Tankers is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Finance Director Paul Newman
Whale Tankers’ factory, set in
more than 40 acres of lake land
Based in Solihull, Whale Tankers develop and manufacture
vacuum tankers for liquid waste collection and sewer
cleaning, while also offering extensive service and parts
coverage. They are an employee-owned SME, with over 70 per
cent of the current employees owning part of the business. They
have an outstanding reputation as an employer, and they have
always regarded their staff as the main asset of the company,
valuing their high skill levels and loyalty. Training is an integral
part of Whale’s philosophy, enabling them to attract and retain
a well-equipped and motivated workforce. Finance Director Paul
Newman elaborates.
We are often asked to paint a picture of Whale Today: our company can best be
described as a modern, forward-thinking business, with a clear vision and strong
culture, a company that has always tried to do things just a little differently.
As the largest company of our kind in Europe, our product quality is respected
in the industry by customers and operators alike. Following a difficult leveraged
buyout in 2001, the company found itself in a period of transition when the
recession of 2008/2009 hit. With the company being highly geared at this time, it
was important to retain as much of the skill base within the workforce as possible
while maintaining the minimum required level of performance.
Since that time, we have continued to evolve and develop, with significant
investment in innovation. This required an expansion of design and engineering
»Finance Director: Paul Newman
»Established in 1969
»Based in Solihull
»Services: Manufacture and
development of leading
European liquid waste
collection equipment
»No. of employees: 230
»Turnover: £30 million
»Over 70 per cent of employees
are shareholders
Whale Tankers
resources both in the UK and Whale’s
wholly owned subsidiary in India.
The focus has been geared towards
identifying our customers’ needs and
understanding the jobs the customer
needs to get done, but not forgetting
customer service and parts support.
While this has largely been developed
through our in-house engineering
expertise, it has also included a
number of strategic partnerships both
in the UK and around the world.
Investment in success
Today, we are in a much stronger
financial position. Our success over
the last five or six years has enabled
the repayment of legacy debt, and
product development has continued at
a pace. Behind this success has been
the investment in our people. We are
in a niche industry and therefore it is
important to create the skills relevant
to our industry as staff are becoming
increasingly difficult to recruit. There
remains a skill shortage in engineering
in the UK. We have run a successful
apprenticeship programme for over
15 years and despite the introduction
of the apprenticeship levy, which has
a detrimental financial impact on us,
continue to do so today.
Over ten per cent of our current
workforce came through our
apprenticeship programme and
we have supported many of these
apprentices through further education,
even up to master’s degree level. If
we feel that the employee’s preferred
course is beneficial to the company
and they have the aptitude, we will
support them as we are keen to retain
the skills within the business. This is
one of the reasons we are able to
keep the average age of the workforce
below 45 in a mature engineering
business. In addition, we run an
extensive range of internal training
courses and administer the National
Drainage Academy, which offers
industry-relevant training courses to
our customers.
One of the main attributes of the
business is the variety of disciplines on
offer to the employees. Specialisation
is something that is rare among
our engineers and this gives them
the flexibility to deal with the many
varied customer demands. Our aim
is always to try to solve the problem
the customer presents us with in a
demanding marketplace. We have
modernised our product range through
the use of plcs and CANbus and again
Continuous dirty water
recycling unit
Medium volume
combination unit
Over ten per
cent of our
workforce came
through our
Highlighting best practice
have invested heavily in the employees
in this area of the business. We employ
more graduates now than at any
time in the company’s history, with
the aim of keeping ahead of modern
engineering developments.
Our industry is subject to many
legislative constraints, and we are
currently manufacturing under the
governance of over a hundred separate
pieces of hierarchical legislation.
Many of these are safety driven, and
in the manufacture of large capital
equipment this is something we
embrace as a company both internally
and in the industry. We have been
commended by the EEF and other
external bodies for our standards of
health and safety. We operate an
integrated quality management system
compliant with ISO 9001, 14001 and
45001. Additionally, we have senior
members of staff involved in discussion
groups with government bodies to
improve industry safety standards.
Customer demand and product
innovation means that our current
product range is the broadest and
most versatile in the company’s history.
There are over 7,000 Whale products
currently in use around the world and
over 10,000 parts in stock to support
their operation. With the overseas
business now being targeted with
the appropriate products, our global
presence is growing and we continue
to improve lives and the environment
in many areas.
Surmounting challenges
There are many challenges ahead for
the business, with the uncertainty
around future trade with our
European partners and the potential
for the introduction of tariffs. This
may put further pressure on our
pipeline management, stockholding
and cash flow. In addition, there are
major changes ahead with regard to
the move away from conventional
combustion engines and the impact
of the power required for the
Whale equipment to function on
the new chassis. This will inevitably
require a great deal of research and
development from our engineering
team over the coming months
Despite these challenges, we are now
in a great position to meet whatever
demands lie ahead in the years and
decades to come.
Our current
product range
is the broadest
and most
versatile in the
Apprenticeship intake
2017 and 2018


This article was sponsored by Whale Tankers. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister