And perhaps now Pete is one of Lewis'....
Well we can't guarantee that is the case, but we can say with confidence that Pete, who has brought engineering expertise, postivity, commitment and laughter for over 28 years to the Solar team is certainly one of our Solar heroes.
Anyone who has worked alongside Pete or who knows him personally, will know his love of F1. Every ‘dress down Friday’ he’s normally wearing an F1 or Lewis Hamilton T-shirt! To celebrate Pete’s long service, we sent him on the trip of a lifetime – a 3 day experience to the pre-season race testing in Barcelona ready for the F1 season as a guest of our incredible customer Mercedes! Pete got to walk the track and watch the cars from anywhere he wanted! And of course, as he was ‘with Mercedes’ he was wined and dined in the hospitality lounge ready to meet Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton (although he admits that with the prospect of meeting Hamilton his excitement and nerves got the better of him and he didn’t really make the most of this opportunity!). With no need for the drivers to rush off due to the unseasonal snow in Barcelona there was ample time for Pete and Hamilton to talk about World Championships, which of course Hamilton said he was going to win.
“I’ve always been hesitant about meeting my heroes, just in case they disappoint, y’know? Anyway, this was definitely not the case!” beamed Pete. “I have been to a few Grand Prix – Monaco in 1983 and saw Keke Rosberg win, and then his son Nico win in 2014 – as well as Catalunya, Monza and Silverstone. In Barcelona I was able to gain an appreciation of F1 from literally every vantage point, from General Admission through to the Paddock Club! Being trackside is something else! You would be amazed by how quick they can slow down – you don’t get to sit that close to the bends normally!”
He got to learn everything he’s ever wanted to know about F1 tyres and used engine oil, and got to experience what it’s like as part of the pit-stop team as he watched the engineers strip down a car to get underneath the power unit, a “truly amazing” experience!
Pete started his working life as an electrical technician apprentice with London Transport working on the red buses - in fact he used to drive one to work to pick up the rest of his team on his way! He later moved to the South West installing a variety of electrical systems - fire alarms, intruder alarms, care call systems, emergency lighting and telephone systems. However, on seeing some of the benefits his friend was receiving whilst working at Solar, Pete decided to follow and applied to be a telephone engineer. “It was hard work installing a phone system almost every day” Pete re-counts, “I was all around the country, travelling 60,000 miles a year installing different systems.”
28 years ago, Solar looked very different - a lot smaller, fewer products and different technologies but the values and customer sentiment remained the same: “Once I had a call telling me that one of our phone systems was about to get flooded by the river, I rushed to site, arriving at 1730 to see one of our Directors up to his ankles in water! I removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my trousers and waded in. Fuelled by coffee, I spent all night moving the system to the next floor up! We finished at about 6am! Anyway, the system was saved with no loss of service experienced by the customer!”
Pete is at the forefront for any Solar activity whether it’s delivering a lesson in our Learning at Work Week, participating in one of our crazy physical challenges for charity or leading the social at our monthly PayDayYayDay! Celebrating and rewarding our Solar people is core to what we’re all about; there is no-one in the Company that this trip could have meant more to, and we are absolutely thrilled that we could celebrate Pete’s long service with Solar so perfectly.
(Pete Langston with Valtteri Bottas)