Good luck: Steel Benders employee brings an end to almost 20 years service

A long-serving plate roller at Steel Benders UK is looking forward to travelling around Europe in a motorhome after announcing his retirement.

And Teesside’s steel processing specialists marked Steve Bell’s last day by handing him a commemorative watch at a surprise farewell gathering before Christmas to thank him for almost 20 years of service.

Steve, born and bred in Middlesbrough, has been an integral part of Steel Benders’ growth over the years – now he’s ready for the next chapter.

Steve Bell has retired. Picture: Tom Banks

“I’m going to enjoy Christmas without my alarm going off,” said the 64-year-old. “At some point I will travel around Europe and then the UK. Other than that I’ve got no plans, just to enjoy life.

“Steel Benders has been a cracking company to work for, out of this world in fact – and I’m going to miss working here. 

“When I first started here there were only three of us on the shop floor and I leave knowing how it has grown; to such an extent that we have had huge projects, like building carousels to carry telephone cables for stretching under the Atlantic.

“It’s been great to see this company thrive and it’s special to have played a part in Steel Benders becoming known country-wide having been part of a big family for so long.”

Steel Benders founder Malcolm Cooper with Steve Bell. Picture: Tom Banks

Just a few years after Malcolm Cooper founded Steel Benders in 2001, Steve joined the company – after spending years building film sets around the world such as Titanic and James Bond’s Goldeneye. 

Malcolm, who handed over the management reins to his wife Tania four years ago, returned to Steel Benders’ Dockside Road headquarters to wish Steve well.

“He will be sorely missed because he got on with everyone as a father figure to younger members of the team,” said Malcolm, taking a break from project managing Steel Benders’ move to Brenda Road, Hartlepool. 

“I don’t think I will be joining him on his motorhome travels, I don’t have the time! But he has been brilliant for us. 

“He tells everyone he worked on movies like Gladiator, building the sets, and then he came to us with broad-based training as a plater. Stevie, as we call him, was an ideal candidate for us because he was an older guy capable of training the next generation.”

Steel Benders founder Malcolm Cooper with Steve Bell and Operations Director Phil Anderson. Picture: Tom Banks

Twelve years ago, Phil Anderson, who was promoted to Steel Benders’ operations director earlier this year, joined the team and benefitted from having Steve around.

And Phil said: “Stevie knew everything. I’m in position now partially because of what I learned from him. He was the guy I would go to when a job was a little different, a bit trickier, and the way he has passed his knowledge on to me and others has been second to none. 

“He will be a massive loss to the company but we wish him well in his retirement. I don’t know if they make Stevies anymore – he is one of a kind in terms of longevity and experience.

“If we do get another couple of Stevie Bells in our ranks then we will be a very lucky company.”

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