An invaluable contribution to the success of Borough Chrome

Feb 26, 2024

In December 2023, Borough said thank you and goodbye to longtime Technical Manager, Graham Williams who decided to retire after 43 years in the plating industry, with 39 of those spent helping Borough Chrome become the impressive business you see today.

In 1980, our then Managing Director, Dr Gordon Coombes approached Westcliff Grammar School to see if any pupil might prefer a career in engineering to a place at University. The opportunity to learn about chrome plating, with a focus on the chemistry involved proved a draw for a young Graham.

He joined Borough Chrome in the same year on work experience, to see if this was a good first step in his career and fortunately for us, he was instantly enthralled by our chrome plating processes and the rest as they say, was history.

Touring the US for inspiration

As Graham began to learn the chemistry involved in creating the best possible quality chrome plating on plastic, a difficult process to perfect, he became central to the development of the new chrome plating line we were set to install when we moved to our current facility in Leigh-on-Sea.

Our current Chairman David Coombes and Graham undertook a tour of US chrome plating facilities in the nineties to understand not only what was possible, but what we could do better. From that trip, our plant was specified and within months of the move to new premises, Borough Chrome was regraded as one of Europe’s leading chrome platers of plastic components.

(L-R) David Coombes, Graham Williams, David Scrivener, Nick Coombes, Gordon Coombes

Graham’s expertise and unrivalled knowledge of the chrome plating process, also helped Borough develop new design specifications for moulding plastic parts to be chrome plated. If parts are to be chrome plated, this must be considered in the design, especially if it is to take advantage of our two-shot injection moulding technique to ensure parts that need to flex, remain un-chromed.

Graham’s experience also proved invaluable when troubleshooting problems with the chroming process, or specific components, or indeed when selling our chrome plating services to prospects, such as Tier 1 automotive supply chain partners.

As a responsible manufacturer, we recognise the need to ensure our people follow the appropriate regulations governing the safe handling of the chemicals we use in our injection moulding and chrome plating processes. Once again, it was Graham who led the business in this area and also the way we handled the water used in our rinsing baths.

Water quality in and out critical to plating quality

Chrome plating on plastic requires significant amounts of water, with many steps in the process followed by numerous rinsing operations, sometimes as many as three, before the next chemical treatment of the components on the flight bars.

The water quality into our plant is typically good enough to drink, but not to use in the chroming process without it first being filtered. Graham once recognised that the quality of our chrome plating had been compromised by microscopic bugs in the water and helped specify the reverse osmosis process we use to clean our water on it’s way in and before we return it to the drains.

In preparation for his retirement, Graham spent time transferring his expertise and knowledge to those tasked with assuming his role. Currently deemed too much information for one person, his role has been divided between Daniel Scrivener, our Electroplating Technical Manager and Lauren Harvey, our new Chemical Analyst. In the weeks ahead we’ll introduce you to the new team.

Touring the world once more

Graham has left Borough a stronger, more highly-regarded chrome plater of plastic components than the business he joined when The Police had the best-selling single of the year with ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ and for that we will always be grateful.

In his well-earned retirement, Graham has decided to see more of the world. Whilst he will always be welcome back here in Progress Road, we are confident that where ever he goes, he will be silently judging the quality of the chrome he comes across on his travels.