Former SSI worker Stephen Jackson has told how he had to start his working life all over again after 35 years in the steel industry.
Mr Jackson was already 52 when SSI closed in 2015 but, with support from the SSI Task Force, he has built up his own successful household and waste removal business.
The grandad set up Boro Removals six months after losing his job. Initially he focused on house clearance but soon expanded into household, garage and garden waste removal and the business has been so successful he is considering taking the next step and moving into commercial waste disposal.
Mr Jackson, from Ormesby, explained that he started work straight from school aged 16 and never left.
He said: “I’d never been without work in 35 years. It was a big, big shock. There was always talk about closure but we’d always pulled through before.
“When SSI closed I didn’t know what to do. It just came to me one morning that I should do small removals.
“The Task Force was really helpful, not just with financial support, but in helping me with advice and six months later I was up and running.
“I thought it would be mainly small removals but I got more and more questions about dealing with waste. I would say that about 95% of my work is waste now. Instead of getting a skip people can call me and I can deal with it. It’s been a big relief to have steady work, not just for me but my partner, Tina, who helped me so much too.”
Mr Jackson, who was a discharge operator at SSI on slab one casting machine, said the business really took off about a year ago.
“I get a lot of work through lettings agents now,” he explained. “I can deal with removals quickly and efficiently with little fuss.
“I am hoping to get more work with care homes. I think I can offer a service which doesn’t disturb people too much. I also get a lot of work with lads who left the steelworks at the same time. I loved working at the steelworks and I often think of everyone there but I wouldn’t go back now.”
Amanda Skelton, chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “It wonderful that Stephen has made such a success of his business and I’m sure it will go from strength-to-strength.
“I would urge anyone who worked at SSI or their families who are considering setting up in business to get in touch for some sound advice and support.”
Funding is now available for anyone in the Tees Valley to start out in business – not only former SSI workers. Contact the North East Enterprise Agency on 0191 5166093.
Former SSI workers considering taking the brave step of setting up in business on their own can find out more at www.ssitaskforce.com