A MANUFACTURER believes it may have one of the most loyal workforces in the country.

Around a quarter of the 45 staff at Barnbrook Systems in Fareham account for 285 years’ service at the company between them.

The company says it has managed to grow its order book at the same time as retaining its talent. It manufactures electro-mechanical switching devices for the aerospace, defence, marine, railway and commercial industries.

Owner Tony Barnett has 40 years’ service himself.

Sharon Whettingsteel has spent 37 years with the company.

“I came for an interview and never left – I literally started there and then,” said Sharon, who specialises in intricate work on printed circuit boards and steel coil winding.

Julie Lamport, a 35-year veteran whose daughter Mia also works for the firm, said: “I’ve done most jobs here over the years. I retired when I was 60 and had a lovely retirement present. I even went to Australia but when I came back, Mr Barnett came round and asked me to come back on a part-time basis – so I did.”

Andrew Gordon, who has clocked up 34 years, said: “I started here on 66.5 pence an hour and now I’m head of manufacturing. I enjoy the variety I get with my job and the time really has flown by.”

Janice Whittingham, 33 years, said: “It’s great to see how the company has developed over the years. We’ve come through some lean times in the 1990s and now it’s good to see the new people coming on board.”

Maggie Goulding, who has been there 33 years and is training her successor, said: “I never thought I would stay here this long but you get comfortable and I enjoy the variety of work I do.”

John Barrow, 25 years, said: “I really enjoy working on the gardens here. There aren’t many manufacturing companies that have such a lovely setting and I enjoy creating a nice place where staff members can enjoy their lunch in the summer.”

Karen Williamson, who has been with the company for 24 years and mostly works on producing relays, said: “I’ve become multi-skilled over the years and I can work on most products we make. It is precision work and I enjoy learning new stuff.”

Miriam Landy, another 24-year veteran, said: “I am an assembly worker in the fire suppression team and I really enjoy the work. I get a buzz out of it. This is my family – it is like a second home here.”

Barnbrooks has more than 200 customers in the military, aerospace, marine and railway sectors. Tony Barnett said of his staff: “They must be one of the longest-serving groups of employees in the whole country.

“We are lucky to have a close knit workforce who get along very well. I do think it is down to leadership and the fact we are operating with zero debt makes the people who work here confident of our future.”

Barnbrooks has sought to “future-proof” its business, including by developing its graduate intake.

Physicist James Allpress and graduate engineers Maria Vaquerizo, Wui Jack Lee, Joseph Stokes and Joel Hedges have recently joined the team.