Our People

At Lander, people are at the heart of our business. Whether it be our dedicated senior management team or our level one manufacturing apprentices, we look at ourselves as one team and we are all integral in achieving our business goals.

We have a core workforce who have been with us on our recent growth journey and who are working towards a strong future for the business.

Senior Management Team

Len Palmer - Managing Director

Len Palmer - Managing Director

Len has extensive experience at Board Level, having held General Manager/MD/Operations Director positions mainly within the Automotive sector - he originally joined Lander Group in 2005 as General Manager for Lander Carlisle, and then returned to Lander Automotive in 2014 as Operations Director, before taking up the position of Managing Director in September 2020. He holds an MBA, awarded in 2002 from the Open University Business School.

Darren Williams - Engineering Director

Darren Williams - Engineering Director

Darren joined Lander in 2000 initially as a Programme Manager and was promoted to Engineering Director in 2009. He has over 30 years’ experience in engineering and manufacturing, predominantly specialising in the automotive sector. Darren is responsible for Lander’s product design and manufacturing strategy, overseeing the management, training and development of the engineering team.

Darren has a First-Class honours degree in Management of Manufacturing Systems form the University of Central England.

John mason

John Mason – Commercial Director

With 35 years in the Automotive Engineering industry, John’s success in various Commercial roles over the last 20+ years, is underpinned by his rounded experience in Engineering, Logistics, Cost Estimating, Programme Management and Production Management positions. He has an excellent track record of generating and driving Purchase efficiencies and securing multiple multi-million pound contracts with several major car companies and large first tier system suppliers.

John joined Lander in 2006 to head up Sales and Business Development and was appointed Commercial Director in 2016.

Michael Melvin ACMA – Finance Director

Michael Melvin ACMA – Finance Director

Michael joined Lander as Finance Director in June 2014. As well as having full responsibility for the financial control of the business, Michael also oversees the IT and Human Resources functions. Michael has over twenty years’ experience of senior finance roles, mostly in the m manufacturing sector. Michael’s experience spans a number of different companies from SMEs to large global corporations.

Prior to joining Lander Michael acted as Finance Director for a number of businesses within the Caparo group for five years.

Simon Walker - Operations Director

Simon Walker - Operations Director

Simon joined Lander in 2016 as Operations Manager, and was promoted to Operations Director in 2020. He has almost 40 years’ experience in the automotive manufacturing sector, with the last 20 years being at senior Operational level at a variety of OEMs and Tier 1s, including JLR, Caterpillar, and Johnson Controls. Simon is responsible for Lander’s operational functions and strategies throughout manufacturing and the supply chain.

Simon has a First-Class honours degree in Management of Manufacturing Systems from the University of Central England.

Len Palmer - Managing Director

Len has extensive experience at Board Level, having held General Manager/MD/Operations Director positions mainly within the Automotive sector - he originally joined Lander Group in 2005 as General Manager for Lander Carlisle, and then returned to Lander Automotive in 2014 as Operations Director, before taking up the position of Managing Director in September 2020. He holds an MBA, awarded in 2002 from the Open University Business School.

Darren Williams - Engineering Director

Darren joined Lander in 2000 initially as a Programme Manager and was promoted to Engineering Director in 2009. He has over 30 years’ experience in engineering and manufacturing, predominantly specialising in the automotive sector. Darren is responsible for Lander’s product design and manufacturing strategy, overseeing the management, training and development of the engineering team.

Darren has a First-Class honours degree in Management of Manufacturing Systems form the University of Central England.

John Mason – Commercial Director

With 35 years in the Automotive Engineering industry, John’s success in various Commercial roles over the last 20+ years, is underpinned by his rounded experience in Engineering, Logistics, Cost Estimating, Programme Management and Production Management positions. He has an excellent track record of generating and driving Purchase efficiencies and securing multiple multi-million pound contracts with several major car companies and large first tier system suppliers.

John joined Lander in 2006 to head up Sales and Business Development and was appointed Commercial Director in 2016.

Michael Melvin ACMA – Finance Director

Michael joined Lander as Finance Director in June 2014. As well as having full responsibility for the financial control of the business, Michael also oversees the IT and Human Resources functions. Michael has over twenty years’ experience of senior finance roles, mostly in the manufacturing sector. Michael’s experience spans a number of different companies from SMEs to large global corporations.

Prior to joining Lander Michael acted as Finance Director for a number of businesses within the Caparo group for five years.

Simon Walker - Operations Director

Simon joined Lander in 2016 as Operations Manager, and was promoted to Operations Director in 2020. He has almost 40 years’ experience in the automotive manufacturing sector, with the last 20 years being at senior Operational level at a variety of OEMs and Tier 1s, including JLR, Caterpillar, and Johnson Controls. Simon is responsible for Lander’s operational functions and strategies throughout manufacturing and the supply chain.

Simon has a First-Class honours degree in Management of Manufacturing Systems from the University of Central England.

Employee Case Studies

Richard Gem - Senior Design Engineer

I joined Lander in 2002 as a Design Engineer. Since joining I have worked on various design projects including Seating Latch Mechanisms, Armrests, Engine pipes and Seat frames. One of the most interesting projects I have worked on was the Engine Lubrication and Cooling Pipes for Jaguar Land Rover. Lander were fully design responsible for the products so this meant working closely with the customer to produce and validate the designs before being released into production. Once the project was completed the products were the first engine pipes to be supplied and assembled at the new Jaguar Land Rover Engine Manufacturing Centre.

Around 4 years ago I was promoted to Senior Design Engineer which in turn meant more responsibility, engaging with customers more, effectively managing the workload and other members of staff. Due to the variety of parts produced by Lander over the past years it has given me the opportunity to work with various different products, materials and production processes.

The working environment and the atmosphere in the business is dynamic and fast paced, which I really enjoy as every day can be very different. Since joining Lander everyone who I have worked with has been helpful and made working here enjoyable. We also like meeting socially for sporting activities such as running and football.

Richard Gem - Senior Design Engineer

Joe Gillett – Purchasing Manager

Started my career in Purchasing in 2010 as an Assistant Buyer.  Whilst I was gaining experience in the role, I also studied CIPS at level 4 and continued up to level 5.   I became a manager at my previous company in 2015.  I joined Lander in 2020 as Purchasing Manager.  My responsibilities are to oversee the supply chain looking for cost savings, managing the supplier’s performance quality cost etc., review price increases, shortages in the supply base and other external factors that impact upon supply to the business.  Lander are different from other organisations because there is a better team cohesion, ethical team work and departments work closely together.

The culture is really good, people take responsibility and don’t try to blame others, you have the freedom to fail and learn from your mistakes and to freely express your views.  I plan to join the Lander the football team.  I feel I have settled in quickly because of the people, they make it easy for you to settle in and become part of the team quickly. Support and team work is really good.  Everyone works together no difficult people. No politics and no silo mentality.

Joe Gillett – Purchasing Manager

Luke Porter - Programme Manager

I did my first Work Experience whilst at school at Lander Automotive.  When I left school I began a degree in Automotive engineering at Sheffield Hallam university I had the opportunity to a placement year in 2015 within the engineering department at Lander.  Before I completed my placement year, I was offered a position as a Process Engineer at Lander. I went back to university and finished my final year and came back to Lander after I graduated, I joined as a process engineer.

Since joining I have been involved in various projects within process and project engineering and introduced nylon forming into the company in 2019-2020.  I was involved in purchasing high value machinery from North America.  On a daily basis I get the opportunity to speak to customers about designs and design for manufacture, and I have now become more involved with programme management and new product introduction.

I like working at lander – small enough so you get the opportunity to be hands on, interacting we others depts learning more about the commercial aspects and manufacturing costs so I get a greater understanding of the business rather than just engineering.

I like working at Lander because it has a friendly, family atmosphere great football and golf teams, making friends rather than just being colleagues.

Luke Porter - Programme Manager

Jade Pickles – Apprentice Quality Engineer

Jade wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do with her career but she enjoyed practical hands-on work. She decided to join our award-winning Manufacturing Apprenticeship Programme in late 2016 and learned many new skills and gained a level 2 NVQ in Lean Manufacturing, before becoming a Manufacturing Operative. 

Jade’s talent and promise was quickly identified by our team and this led to her developing into an Apprentice Team Leader role where she was managing a team of operators within a production cell.  She thrived in the managing and motivating of her team, to such an extent that she joined was offered a role in the Quality Engineering team in 2021, grabbing this opportunity with both hands.  

Jade is now working towards an NVQ Level 4 Quality Practitioners qualification and is recognised as a potential star of the future. 

Jade Pickles – Apprentice Quality Engineer

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