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Enterprising Rhys gets gem of a chance with high flying firm

Continental Diamond Tool Ltd, Kinmel Bay ; Rhys Butler and Corey Jones. Picture Mandy Jones

An 18-year-old sixth form student is getting a taste of the world of precision engineering after being inspired by the success of a high flying company.

Rhys Butler, a pupil at Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph, is now on an eight-week work experience programme after writing to Continental Diamond Tool, on the Tir Llwyd Industrial Estate in Kinmel Bay, which is withing walking distance of his home.

According to Rhys, he was prompted to get in touch when he read a news story about the firm which supplies sophisticated parts for production machinery for Rolls-Royce and other aerospace companies in the UK.

Continental Diamond Tool (CDT), which employs 40 skilled staff and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is one of only two companies of its kind in the UK.

It makes a range of highly specialised diamond tools for advanced manufacturing industries, including the aerospace, automotive, medical and semi-conductor sectors.

Rhys said: “I saw the story about the company being under new American ownership and I was looking for work experience for my CV so I emailed in an application and they came back to me straight away.

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“They’ve given an eight-week programme so I go in one day a week and I’m going through the different processes they do and they show me and explain how they work.

“One Wednesday I was actually working on putting the diamonds into the tooling. It’s been a brilliant opportunity.

“I’ve always been interested in cars and how machines work and I’m doing engineering in sixth form and go to the Llandrillo College campus in Rhyl every Thursday which is really helpful.”

Rhys often works alongside Corey Jones, 19, also from Kinmel Bay, now in his second year as an apprentice who also took the work experience route to a place with CDT.

He said: “I did my A-levels at Eirias High School in Colwyn Bay and then did Level Three Engineering at Coleg Llandrillo’s site at Rhyl with work experience here and they offered me an apprenticeship.

“They wanted me to get used to what’s involved so I worked here through my summer holidays and started my apprenticeship in September in Level Four Engineering.

“I knew there was a lot of maths in engineering and I’d always enjoyed that and I like to challenge myself by learning about the different machines so I’m really enjoying it.

“I had tried a few places for work experience and Coleg Llandrillo suggested here and it’s been brilliant.

“The people here are really great and very knowledgeable with lots of experience you can learn from – I work with someone who has experience on every machine and he’s a big help.

“We’re working for businesses like Rolls-Royce which is fantastic so I want to do the best I can and really build a career here.”

Michaela Lawton, CDT Finance Manager, said: “We have been running an apprenticeship scheme here for a long time and historically it’s been successful and two of our apprentices who moved on after a few years have actually come back to us.

“We have a very good relationship with Coleg Llandrillo and it really helps that they have a campus at Rhyl with a strong and well-equipped engineering department.

“What we do here is so unique and so niche that we expect our apprentices to learn the core skills in college to give them the platform to build on with the highly specialised work we do here.”

CDT has been boosted by a £1.6million investment by their American owners and has opened a second production unit on the Tir Llwyd Estate to house its new electro-plating operation which has received support from Welsh Government.

More than 60 per cent of the company’s products are exported to 30 countries, with sales growing particularly strongly across Europe and Asia, as well as North America.

The company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, was founded originally as Consort Precision Diamond and in 2018 was bought and rebranded by Continental Diamond Tool, based in New Haven, Indiana.

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