Introducing McKinco

“So how come you’ve went out on your own then? Fair play to you, that’s brave!”

This was a question I was first asked by an old FG Wilson supplier, Ballymena man and fellow Liverpool FC die hard back in 2014 when I formed McKinley Controls Ltd.

Necessity! That was my first thought. Having recently been made redundant due to the demise of the FG Wilson dealer Progress Group, who I’d joined in 2012, I needed an income.

However, it was more than that.

The idea of being my own boss was a bit of an itch I’d always wanted to scratch…

Born in Larne, Northern Ireland in the late 1970s, my engineering career started in 1997 at FG Wilson Engineering, one of the world’s largest diesel generator manufacturers (handily located less than 2 miles from my family home). Starting as a student placement in the electrical design office I spent the next 15 years at FGW, apart from a year spent finishing off my degree at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Initially designing our generator control systems, I moved through the ranks from Graduate Electrical Engineer to Senior Engineer (receiving Chartership in 2004) and ultimately to Engineering Team Leader. My specialist subject (in the voice of Magnus Magnusson) was the design, programming and testing/commissioning of Power Management Systems that we built in-house, utilising PLCs, HMIs and SCADA systems.

A jump across the water to the aforementioned FGW dealer Progress Group (London office) in 2012 as an Electrical Project Manager, fully supported by my new wife and native Southender Rebekah, came to the abrupt end mentioned above.

So I started up my own Control Systems company

Initially just a ‘one man band’ specialising in Allen Bradley PLC support & upgrades, with a bit of CAD design on the side, I had plans… these however were put on ice at the start of 2015, as I decided to re-join the security of the salaried workforce with an ever-expanding young family.

The next two & a half years were spent with E Rand & Sons (Ipswich) in Electrical Project Management. Design of in-house panel building, along with software programming, was combined with project managing some major electrical installations in the South East of England.

The opportunity to run a company again though was too good to refuse when in 2017 I was offered the role of General Manager at Votec Ltd in Basildon. An established controls company with a family feel, I spent the next 4 years running their day-to-day operations and managed to expand the company significantly in my time there.

However, as the ownership dynamic with our parent company evolved after the passing of Votec’s one remaining founder, I increasingly realised that the older I got, the harder I was finding it to take orders from anyone whose name wasn’t Mrs. McKinley.

So, after a brief hiatus whilst all contractual obligations were fulfilled, I decided to give it another shot and here we are; McKinley Controls 2.0 aka McKinCo.

What do we do? Well, this website is a pretty good place to find out

Our small team of experienced hardware & software engineers are always bending over backwards to help our customers with their control needs.

As for that supplier who asked me the question all those years ago; writing this has made me think I should give him a call to catch up and discuss how my hometown club Larne FC won the NIFL Premiership last season… but I’ll be sure not to mention the Irish Cup Final.

Gareth McKinley
September 2023