Press release
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Celebrating the Life of Trevor Crease

Trevor Crease at his
40 year celebration 
at Tods Aerospace

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Trevor Crease, a valued colleague and friend, on July 20th, 2019. Trevor joined Tods Aerospace in 1978 and served the company for over 40 years. During his tenure, he held positions in nearly every aspect of the business from production, estimating, sales, operations, health and safety to engeineering. Over the years, he worked on a variety of different aircraft from the Westland Lynx to the Concorde and made a huge impact on the business and his coworkers. 

“We thank Trevor for his many talents and fantastic contributions to our company and we are so grateful for all he did for us. He will be greatly missed and we offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones,” said Wayne Exton, CEO of Unitech Aerospace

In memory of Trevor, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect back on his long career and remember how much has changed at Tods and within the industry in the past 40 years. 

A Day in the Life at Tods in 1978:

Trevor began his career at Tods in September 1978 as a Production Operative. His background was Having been made redundant from his previous employer, Trevor applied for a job with W&J Tod Ltd in Yeovil, was accepted immediately and started just five days after his previous employment termination. The biggest impact of the transition was that Trevor had to travel nine miles to the plant in Yeovil – he used to walk to work in his hometown of Crewkerne. Nonetheless, he was excited about the opportunity. Despite coming from a composite background, Trevor still had to go through the probationary training period and acceptance test including practical and theory from pattern and mould making and using all the different gel coats, resin systems and reinforcements.  He took this all in stride and made rapid progress.

In 1978, Trevor’s typical working day was governed by the time clock and factory ‘hooter’ (industrial alarm) and adhered to the following schedule: 

0800:“Start” hooter

0955:“Tea break washing up” hooter

1000: “10 minute tea break” hooter

1010: “Start work” hooter

1255:“Lunch wash up” hooter

1300: Start 30 minute lunch break

1330: “Start work” hooter

1625:“End of normal hours wash up” hooter

1630: “End of day” hooter 

If you were more than three minutes late on clocking-in, the print would turn red and you lost 15 minutes pay. Overtime was allowed up to 30 minutes daily (except Fridays) and four hours on a Saturday morning, if authorized. Timesheets were completed, signed off and handed in by the following Monday and administered by the chargehands and foremen.

Trevor still has his first pay slip issued to him in September 1978 with the take home pay of £54.38 for 46 working hours. 

Trevor operating the autoclave
(wearing a tie!) around 1985

Production Operatives were responsible for their own work from mould making, mould preparation, preparing/cutting their own material, laminating, trimming finishing and fitting. Trevor’s first jobs were making Parabolic Satellite dishes using hand-lay Epoxy resin, plain glass fabric, reflective mesh and Nomex honeycomb core. Trevor spent many of his early days operating a 200T hydraulic press manufacturing torpedo covers using Epoxy pre-preg in closed moulds with a high tolerance fitting process. He also got involved with producing Epoxy Syntactic foam items and water pressure testing them at 1200 psi with minimal water uptake.

Working Environment at Tods in the 1970s:

The company wasn’t a closed shop in the late 70s, but employees were strongly encouraged to join the Union. It wasn’t long before employees went on strike for better pay and holiday entitlement. As Trevor had just started with the company, his foreman told him that if he joined the striking workers on the picket line, he would not be permitted to return to work. Fortunately, the workforce understood his position and allowed him to cross the line; otherwise Trevor’s time at Tods would have been short lived.  Trevor quickly joined the Union (T&GWU) for his own protection. 

In 1978, the first-floor manufacturing area only had one window with glass in the end wall.  All of the other side windows were open window spaces without glass but with translucent GRP slides to keep the weather out and provide ventilation. It was a very basic workplace.

Changing Roles and Developing a Career at Tods Aerospace:

When the role of Laminating Chargehand became available, Trevor applied and was promoted. In this position, he was in charge of all hand laminating, press moulding and any other processes that came along. During this time, the composite industry started to produce items using carbon pre-preg and core materials in autoclaves. As Tods didn’t yet have an autoclave, Trevor and his team had to build one from scratch and learn the techniques.

Trevor (second from right)
and his laminating and 
pattern making team in 1980

Later, an opportunity arose to join the staff in the sales and estimating team and following a practical exam, Trevor was accepted. In the early 80s with no mobile phones or computers, Trevor had to contact customers and suppliers by land line, read hard copy drawings and specifications, estimate in long hand and submit typed or hand-written quotes by fax or mail. There were times when Trevor manned the reception, booked in and distributed the mail and typed up the CofC’s in duplicate on the electric typewriter - no room for error!

Trevor used to travel around the UK discussing new projects with potential customers and the supply chain. There was much more face to face contact and discussion about technical issues, manufacturing and the benefits of composites over traditional materials. Trevor sometimes went to companies with customer support and even manufactured parts on-site. In the mid to late ‘80s, he found you had to be multiskilled in order to be successful as there was no one else to do these tasks.

Changing Times, Management, Facilities and Technologies: 

Following the management buy-out in 1992, Tods started using computer manufacturing control systems for estimating and material control. In 1997, the Yeovil manufacturing facility moved to Crewkerne allowing Trevor to walk to work again. Around this time, Trevor took the position of  Production Manager and helped to set up new processes and manufacturing layout at the new facility. 

In 2001, Tods’ head office moved from Weymouth to Crewkerne and Trevor moved back into sales and estimating. He also took over the roles of the Health and Safety Advisor for all sites and became the MOD Security Controller for the company. He went back into production control for a while to support new product introduction to the company and spent four weeks working at PZL’s composite aircraft manufacturing plant in Eastern Poland transferring manufacturing techniques. During his time there, he fell and dislocated his shoulder but continued on working for another two weeks before returning home.

Trevor's official company
photo from 1992

Reflections on a productive, worthwhile career: 

“The company has had at least seven owners over my time and I have been fortunate to adapt and move with the times, accept change and make things work for the ongoing success of the company,” said Trevor. “If I could offer any advice to my younger colleagues, it would be to learn and understand the technology they are using and don't be afraid to stand up and lead from the front, knowledge is power!”

Trevor ended his career with Tods as a Senior Manufacturing Engineer in Tods’ Engineering department where he translated drawings, digital data and customer specifications into manufacturing instructions  - a long way from his humble beginnings. 

Trevor lived in Crewkerne with his wife of 37 years, Corinne, and had three children and three grandchildren. He dedicated much of his life to service of his country and was a member of the Royal British Legion and the Freemasons in UGLE. He served with the Somerset Cadet Battalion Army Cadet Forces for 38 years and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst in 1985. He took a Queen’s Commission in HM Land Forces in 1985 as a reserve officer and had the great privilege of being personally invited to Buckingham Palace for tea and meeting the royal family. One of his greatest adventures was taking parties of cadets to the USA in 1983 and 1985 to attend the International Skill at Arms meeting with the US National Guard in Little Rock, Arkansas. While in Arkansas, he visited the State Capitol and was issued an official Arkansas Traveller certificate from the Governor of Arkansas. Trevor also enjoyed playing rugby for his local town. 

Major Crease, Yoxter Cadet
Training Centre, May 2013

About Tods Aerospace 

Tods Aerospace specializes in advanced composite materials technology for aerospace applications. The Yeovil, UK based team enhances the performance of vital defence systems, aircraft interiors and air transport equipment worldwide through design, engineering and manufacturing. Tods Aerospace is a Unitech Aerospace Company.

About Unitech Aerospace 

Unitech Aerospace provides the aerospace, marine, medical, defense, nuclear and rail industries with composite and metallic structures and components that meet demanding and complex requirements. The company’s growing global footprint is currently comprised of strategically located sites providing local and immediate support to customers. Integrated solutions range from early stage design, rate production, to full-term sustainment making Unitech Aerospace the industry’s trusted lifecycle partner.