Shawn Harris celebrates 20 years as a James Thomas Engineering (JTE) employee this month. The Worcester, England-based trussing, PAR can, and aluminium specialist has seen many come and go since its foundation in 1977, but Harris, now the longest serving team member, is still only 36 years old. JTE general manager Mervyn Thomas presented Harris with a card signed by the whole company, £100 of gift vouchers, and a silver-plated section of Thomas Superlite truss to mark the occasion. "I’m honored to recognize Shawn’s landmark achievement," says Thomas.

Shawn Harris (left) with Mervyn Thomas

Harris initially left Pershore High School in Worcester at 16, with thoughts of joining the Navy. However, this particular career path didn’t materialize, partly because suffers from sea sickness. Jobs were scarce at the time, but the local career center dispatched him to JTE for an interview, where he was immediately hired, and initially sent to work doing basic assembly in the lighting department. A while later, he became supervisor for this busy division of the company.

He flirted briefly with sheet fabrication, only to discover that he preferred the lighting department. Now back in his original position of lighting department supervisor, Harris organizes orders, prioritizes jobs, and ensures everyone in his department of nine is happy. Holding the same position for so many years might prove repetitive for some, but not at JTE, where Harris relishes the challenge of doing something different every day. He particularly likes unique, one-off jobs, with the added detail of realizing client’s specific requests. "One–offs can be highly stimulating," he says. He also likes turning around something seemingly impossible to meet the deadline, and the interpersonal aspects of the job.

After 20 years, Harris has many good friends at JTE, a workplace element he values highly. "In this industry you can often spend more time at work than at home, so getting along with the people you’re spending most of your time with is crucial!"

When not working, Harris enjoys his longtime hobby of football, and is a keen Leeds United supporter. He also likes "Pottering around at home," indulging in a spot of DIY, and spending time with his 10-year-old daughter, Christie.