David Morrison

David Morrison

What is your name?

David Morrison

What company do you currently work for?

QHS Scotland Ltd

What is your job title?

Company Director

Provide a brief description of your business.

An engineering company that designs, manufactures, and maintains topside equipment for the Subsea Oil & Gas sector.

Describe your career pathway after leaving school.

In my fourth and fifth year at EHS I went on work experience to Newmill Engineering which was situated next to Johnston’s of Elgin. They were an engineering company that manufactured Mash Tuns and maintained local distilleries. I left school in 1990 and started an engineering apprenticeship with Newmill Engineering (also known as Alexander Dey Engineering). After approximately two months the company went into receivership and I was made redundant. For my first year apprenticeship, I had to go to Tullos Training Centre in Aberdeen full time. I stayed on at the training centre and completed my first year. The training centre put me forward for an interview with a company called SSR International in Dyce, Aberdeen. I got the job and started in August 1991 in their machine shop working on Lathes and milling machines. SSR International manufactured wireline and well control equipment for the global oil and gas sector. I did not like standing at a lathe every minute of every day so I ended up being moved around all the departments in the company. From the machine shop to the QC Inspection to the Pressure Control Department then the Mechanical Assembly then on to Fabrication & Welding. Fabrication and welding was where I fitted best and remained in this department until my apprenticeship was finished in 1994. I then moved back into mechanical assembly where I learned about instrumentation pipe fitting and hydraulic control systems. The engineering manager wanted me to move into the engineering drawing office but I declined a number of times. After my first year at the training centre I drove between Elgin & Dyce for seven years working sixty-plus hours over six or seven days each week. I left SSR in 1997 and started working at David Paterson General Engineers in Elgin. No more driving the A96. I was there for exactly 1 year before leaving and starting at BARMAC (McDermott's Ardersier) in 1998 as a Plater / Fabricator. Here we manufactured the actual oil rigs. Topsides as well as the Jacket sections. In 1999 I moved over into the pipe fitting side and continued as a Pipe fitter until the yard closed in early 2000 when I was made redundant. In Spring 2000 I started with Enterprise Engineering where I went to Pitlochry as a Mechanical Fitter and stripped down the water-driven turbines in the power station at the dam. I only stayed in this role for six months due to bumping into my old supervisor from SRR in Elgin High Street, he convinced me to return to SSR driving to Dyce every day as a Mechanical Fitter. They put me through my RGIT as I soon started going offshore and overseas servicing and commissioning the equipment we manufactured. In October 2001 I gave in to the Engineering Managers' requests and started in the drawing office as a trainee Design/Project Engineer. With my knowledge from building and commissioning the equipment for a number of years, I was thrown in at the deep end. My first project was to design a Heli portable wireline mast that would work on land rigs in the deserts in the UAE. SSR International had been bought over and the new owners were looking to merge the company with another acquisition of theirs. Myself, the Engineering Manager and the Director left the company and started up TIS Manufacturing. At TIS I was meeting with customers, quoting new equipment, designing equipment, and then overseeing the build and commissioning of the units. After five years with TIS a number of customers were pushing me to start up a company on my own. After a total of fourteen years working in Dyce and clocking up around 500,000 miles along the A96 I decided the time was right. Along with my current business partner Robert Forsyth we started QHS Scotland Ltd in 2007. I met Robert while working at Ardersier and we had kept in contact and done various small jobs together. QHS Scotland was formed in 2007 and started operations at 22 Grampian Road, Elgin. Our core business is the design, manufacture & repair of Hydraulic Control Systems for the Subsea Oil & Gas Sector. Our in-house departments consist of the following: Engineering design, Fabrication / Welding, Machine shop (including CNC lathe), Mechanical Assembly including Instrumentation Pipe work, Pressure Testing, Fluid Flushing and Maintenance. Over the past fifteen years, we have built hundreds of units ranging from small hand portable stainless steel pump units to 54,000 kgs Umbilical Reel Units that are currently working off the back of a boat somewhere off North West Australia. QHS is in the middle of building a new premises to expand its operations into.

Have you ever been an apprentice? If yes, please explain what this was, what this involved and why would you encourage others to undertake an apprenticeship.

Yes, I served a four-year engineering apprenticeship with the first year being full-time at Tullos Training Centre, Aberdeen. I carried out a day release for a total of five years at Aberdeen Technical College. Getting and completing my apprenticeship was the most important part of my career to date. The training in multi-disciplines I received during my apprenticeship is the only reason we could have started a company and carry out the different engineering disciplines we do today.

What school subjects would be helpful for your job role?

Maths, English, Physics, Technical Drawing, Craft & Design, and Computer skills are key.

What is your favourite thing about the work that you do?

Being able to design equipment from scratch, see it being built through all the stages of manufacture then witness all the final commissioning & testing.

Why did you want to work in this industry?

Engineering just interested me when I was at school.

Did you ever want to pursue another career?

It was either Engineering, Joiner, or Skiing / Outdoor instructor. I just ended up in engineering from my choice of where to go for my work experience in my fourth year.

What does a typical day in your role involve?

I now sit at a desk all day on a computer answering e-mails from customers. In between times I oversee the engineering designs and manufacturing of our equipment.

What skills are required to do your job?

Good Engineering knowledge in Machining, Fabricating / Welding, Mechanical Assembly, and Technical Drawing.

What is your advice to young people who are considering working in this sector?

First and foremost, get an apprenticeship or trainee position in an engineering company. Once you have it, stick in and work hard.

Any other comments?

I wish I could go back in time and tell a fifteen-year-old me sitting in the typing class with his arms folded refusing to do the touch typing class to wise up. I told my teacher I would never ever do a job in my life that would require me to type on a keyboard all day. Here I am thirty-three years later and spent the last twenty-one years of my working life typing on a keyboard using a maximum of four fingers.

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Here at DYW Moray, we'd like to encourage those of you who are employed in Moray to share your career story with us so that we can promote these to Moray's young people. Go on, share your career story now!

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