Scrap firm is booming thanks to girl power

The world of scrap metal has, traditionally, very much been a man's world.
The female bosses of Maxilead joined by Wigan Council chief executive Donna HallThe female bosses of Maxilead joined by Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall
The female bosses of Maxilead joined by Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall

But one borough business is pushing the industry into the 21st century, thanks to their formidable team of female directors, managers and auditors.

Despite recent draconian legislation changes, Maxilead Metals, one of the largest family-owned and operated scrap metal recycling companies in the North West, has been making headlines for its state-of-the-art facilities, social responsibilities and innovation.

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Set up by Peter Clay in 1985, the women in his life - his wife and three daughters - have been instrumental to the building of the business, and establishing it at the heart of the community.

“In Maxilead, we hold our own against the men – our office is 100 per cent female,” says Vera Clay, quality manager and auditor at the business.

And the macho world of scrap metal has not prevented each one of them from achieving success.

“I think the biggest challenge for women working in any male-oriented industry is to be treated as an equal,” says Lucy Butler, the Clays’ second oldest daughter, who was made company director at the age of 21, having started in full-time employment at Maxilead at the age of 16.

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“However there is no reason why that can’t happen if you work hard to achieve what you want to achieve.”

Every member of the Clay family have trained in the yard before developing their roles in the business which is based on Mosley Common Road, Tyldesley. This has given them the in-depth experience needed to win contracts and grow the business further.

“At the age of 16”, says Butler, “It was my job to go with the non-ferrous loads to where they were being sold, I gained my forklift truck license aged 18 and was in charge of a large contract which was mainly yard-based.”

Another key member, Ruby Shaw, Peter and Vera’s youngest daughter, started at Maxilead as a teen before working her way up to contracts manager, liaising with national and international companies. She has been instrumental in getting big business on board. When we won the contract from Network Rail, having been chosen over our national competitors, it was one of the proudest days of my life and, for a family business from Wigan, a huge achievement!”

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Since then the firm has numerous lucrative contracts from local councils and national companies. This has seen Maxilead Metals’ reputation increase to the point where they are at the forefront of the metal recycling sector in the North West.

And it’s their relationship with the Wigan community that they’re most proud of, fostering ties with several charities in and around the area as well as funding the Christmas lights in Mosley Common.

The firm has also developed the export side of the business which has grown incrementally over the past few years. Maxilead Metals ship scrap metal to Singapore, India and Bangladesh.

Director Anna Dagnall, the eldest daughter, said “My inspiration is my dad who taught us to be strong and tough and to never give up. The women at Maxilead remain a force to be reckoned with. Many of us are working mothers who juggle work with family life, which, while hard at times, is very rewarding.”