Master Cutler relishing task

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They wear top hats and oversize badges on ribbons round the neck.

Members are fined up to 10p for failing to attend meetings and their ranks include freemen, searchers, wardens and a beadle.

Master Cutler 2014 David Grey MBE

Master Cutler 2014 David Grey MBE

And once a year they have a feast. After nearly 400 years you’d expect the Cutlers’ Company – established by Act of Parliament in 1624 – to have a host of traditions.

But don’t confuse tradition with snobbery.

The new Master Cutler David Grey MBE is from a working class family and his election is based on merit.

* Related article: Lessons learned for Master Cutler after heart attack click link

A true entrepreneur, he was running a mobile disco at 18 and aged 22, in 1981, he launched his own company, Oil Seal Services South Yorkshire Ltd. Since then he has built up operations by acquisition and growth to a group of companies with a global market.

There were 12 at one time, although now there are six, including Rotabroach hole cutting systems in Sheffield and steering, suspension and braking company Owens in Rotherham. But he’s taken the year off to lead an organisation representing the region’s manufacturers.

He said: “It’s easy to mock tradition but most things are grounded in what’s come before. I love it. The Cutlers’ Company strikes a balance between tradition and relevance to business today.”

One of his jobs is to bend the ear of government.

“Successful manufacturers need clarity and stability. governments, of whatever hue, need to stop limiting their thinking to the next 12 months and start thinking about the next 10 to 20 years.

“What we need is a coherent, long-term industrial strategy which encompasses energy, skills, taxation, infrastructure and access to markets and which gives manufacturing businesses stability and certainty, regardless of changes of government.

“This requires cross-party agreement. This may not be as difficult as it seems. All the major parties support the growth of manufacturing and consequently all of those policies share a similar direction of travel. There will be differences in the detail but this should not prevent the development of an industrial strategy.”