MY LOAKE LIFE: KEVIN THOMAS

In the fourth of our series My Loake Life, we talk to Kevin Thomas, Quality Control Manager at our factory in Kettering. Kevin has worked with us for 25 years, having started in the Bottom Stock department, and happily his son Samuel is now apprenticed with us. Because of the nature of his job, Kevin is almost always to be found on the factory floor, overseeing the quality inspections at various stages of production.

What does your typical day involve?
I don’t think I’ve ever had two days the same! I start off each day with a clear set of goals, but this usually has to be adapted. I begin by visiting all the departments to speak to the supervisors and then go from there.

What are you most looking forward to today?
My visit to the shoe room and seeing rows of finished shoes ready to be boxed.

What is the best thing about your job?
Being part of the Loake team and considering myself a ‘Loake man’.

Have you always been interested in footwear?
When I was younger, all my close relatives worked in the shoe trade. So I’ve always had an interest in footwear, but I don’t think I really appreciated the level of skill required until I got involved.

What is your career background prior to working at Loake?
Before joining Loake I worked in the production of shoe components for seven years. That’s it – only two jobs!

What has been your career highlight?
Being given the opportunity to help achieve and maintain the highest quality standards possible in Loake footwear.

If you weren’t working in footwear, what would you be doing?
I’d like to think I’d be playing in the centre for Northampton Saints! Failing that, I think something within the care industry, probably with young adults.

Why do you think Loake shoes are still popular after 135 years?
Quality, style and amazing value for money.

Do you think there is a revival in British manufacturing and what do you think the future holds for home grown producers?
Definitely. I think most of the world loves a ‘Made in England’ product. We may not be able to compete with other parts of the world on volume or price, but what we do make in this country is difficult to beat when it comes to quality.

Have you got any hidden talents?
I like to think I’m quite artistic. I once had a picture on show in the Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering.

What is your favourite pair of Loake shoes and why?
A style called ‘Heston’, a full brogue with a half leather/half rubber sole. It has a timeless, classic look and the fit is perfect for me.

How do you spend your time relaxing outside of work?
I love spending time with my family and I’m a season ticket holder at Northampton Saints. I also run the occasional marathon!

Who is your mentor?
Brendon, our Factory Manager. On a day-to-day basis, he’s a huge source of knowledge and a great support.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, quite apt considering my career choice.

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