News Updates


May 2017

Director Change

Rob Harris and his wife are moving out of the area to live in Yorkshire. As part of this change of lifestyle Rob has decided now is the time to leave the the Board of Potteries Die.

Rob is to remain as Chairman of pdc precision engineers, our holding company, and so will continue to take interest in our future development.

October 2016

New Apprentice

It is pleasing to report that Jordon Hall has recently joined us as an engineering apprentice. It's also good to see young people joining our industry and we look forward to him having a long and mutually beneficial working relationship with our company.

September 2016

New Recruit Following a Recent Retirement

Following the retirement of Mick Stokes at the end of August, a long serving and valued employee, we are pleased to announce the recruitment of Rob Foster.

Rob is a highly skilled time served engineer who has worked in the local engineering industry for over 20 years and consequently we are delighted that he has now chosen to bring his skills to PDC.

November 2015

Our Congratulations to Nick Cadman

Nick Cadman was recently offered a directorship onto the board of Potteries Die, which I'm pleased to report he accepted. A copy of our internal communication is below:

To All Employees of The Potteries Die Company

Appointment of Company Director

I am pleased to announce that Nick Cadman is to join the Board of Potteries Die with immediate effect. His position will be that of Operations Director, maintaining his current responsibilities together with the role of helping to determine and develop the company's future strategy.

Rob Harris

On behalf of the Board

November 2015


March 2014 / April 2014

Two New Machines Introduced 

item 1:    After reviewing the market for a new CNC lathe the company chose the semi-automated XYZ Proturn SLX 425. This unit is
able to read dxf files straight from CAD system consequently reducing programming time and minimising any possible risk of operator error. The machine allows for repeatability in producing highly accurate complex shapes.  The resulting reduction in manufacturing times is benefitting both the company and our customers.

The new lathe entered service in March and the picture shows Ray our most experienced and highly skilled turner investigating the new technology.

item 2:    Potteries Die invested in its first Hurco VM 20 CNC machining centre in June 2012.

To build on the success of that investment a further Hurco machining centre VM20i  was commissioned in April. This machine  provides us with additional facilities to take advantage of the significant developments in cutting tool technology so supporting the further introduction of superior manufacturing techniques.

February 2013


Operations Manager Appointed


Last month the Board was pleased to announce the promotion of Nick Cadman to Operations Manager. Nick joined the company in 1989 and has a wide understanding of both product design and the manufacturing techniques needed to produce items of the highest quality.


Nick has now taken responsibility for all day to day matters from me, but is receiving my full support as he becomes familiar with all aspects his job now embraces. The letter below, which outlines his role, was part of our internal communications detailing the change.


Robert Dunleavy

Managing Director


To All Employees of The Potteries Die Company


Internal Promotion


I am pleased to announce that with immediate effect Nick Cadman is increasing his responsibilities to cover all the operational areas of the business. In this role as Operations Manager he will be continue to be responsible to Bob Dunleavy for the design function, but in addition also all other areas of the production process.


No other jobs have been changed, but to avoid misunderstanding the line management within the business is now based on Nick taking responsibility for the day to day matters, rather than Bob. In a small company clearly there will need to be a close working relationship to make sure we meet the necessity of good communication both in house and with our customers.

We are lucky that Bob has agreed to continue overseeing the business until 2014 and is also prepared to offer support if required after that date.


This is an opportunity for Nick together with all of you to build on a successful five years and to help develop the business through the times of change it will be facing. Only by everyone working together can we ensure that Potteries Die has an ongoing future which provides the prospect of secure employment for you and for all future employees.


Rob Harris

On behalf of the Board

January 2013 


November 2012


New Integrated Production System Up and Running

It was decided in mid 2012 that the introduction of a fully integrated “quote to invoice system” could provide a foundation for the development of further improving company efficiency and be a resource that would ultimately improve our response times and service for customers.

The system chosen was from Precise 360 and developed by them to be bespoke for our needs.

Jason Challinor acted our lead contact with Precise and did well in ensuring the system “went live” as planned, coincident with the commencement of our new financial year in November.

At present there is a learning curve but from our experience to date we expect the system will meet our expectations.


NickCadman – Design Services Manager


September 2012


New Apprentice Appointed


The Company has been pleased to welcome a new team member, Nathan Turnock

Nathan had spent time at Potteries Die earlier this year, undertaking work experience from school and was felt to have performed well. Consequently after consideration and with a view to continuing our longstanding policy of investing in people we decided he was an ideal candidate for training.

With a shortage of good skilled people we believe an apprenticeship can have great benefits for both the person chosen and the Company.

Rob Harris - Chairman

June 2012


June 2012


Additional Machining Centre Commissioned


Nick Cadman, Design Services Manager, recently led a project to determine what the company’s next investment should be. The conclusion was for a new machining centre which would allow faster and more accurate milling of the many items of specialised tooling produced, allowing us to contain costs and provide a speedier response for our customers.


The unit chosen was a Hurco VM20 and following training of personnel and its installation in a reorganised production area is now fully meeting our requirements.


Rob Harris

June 2008

Company Press ReleaseSenior Management Changes at The Potteries Die Co. Ltd.


 The Company recently accepted the resignation of Nick Leake from his position of General Manager and has also agreed to waive the contractual notice period. Consequently Nick left us on Tuesday 2nd June, and having been a valuable member of the team for 20 years we wish him luck in his new venture.

At The Potteries Die Company we pride ourselves in supplying not only a quality product but also taking the time to personally assist you with your requirements, from initial enquiry, to after supply. This personal involvement with your business helps us understand your needs more clearly and minimises errors.

To facilitate this we are pleased to announce that Nick Cadman has been promoted to the position of Design Services Manager and will in that role not only oversee design, but become the main contact for a number of the customers that previously dealt with Nick Leake.

Similarly Jason Challinor who normally manages purchasing and other areas of facilities management will also become the main point of contact for some of Nick Leak’s customers. Obviously many of our customers already have long standing relationships with Alan Mountford, Alan Harrison, Barry Gidman and myself and it is not intended that this will alter.

Photos of all the management team plus a range of details of about the company are all shown on our website: Please do have a look if you want further information. All of us are here to try and assist in whatever way we can and if you have any queries do give one of us a call. 

We look forward to continuing to work closely with you.

Yours sincerely


R K Dunleavy

Managing Director


Spring 2008 edition of CBI West Midlands Inbusiness magazine article

The Potteries Die Co. Ltd.

This article appeared in the Spring 2008 edition of CBI West Midlands Inbusiness magazine

WHEN THE company was started in 1936, the first owners chose a name to emphasise their association with a part of Staffordshire that was famous throughout the world for supplying high quality ceramic goods – ‘The Potteries’. As precision engineers and toolmakers, they believed that their company’s name should also highlight an essential part of the ceramic production process – the ‘die’. Dies were used on presses for forming items like tiles, kiln furniture, tableware and bricks. Hence the company, located in Norton, Stoke on Trent was called The Potteries Die Company Ltd.


However, this choice of name, so relevant in the heyday of ceramic manufacture in Staffordshire’s can sometimes be misleading for the company’s potential customers in the 21st century. ‘Do they make colours or fancy pottery items?’ they may wonder. No, now as then we remain toolmakers and precision engineers dedicated to meeting the needs of a wide range of customers.

What has changed is how we achieve that objective.


Bespoke toolmaking in the 1930s required our employees to be skilled individuals, with an understanding of how to interpret customers’ ideas in order to take them through from design to reality. Utilising their expertise in using the best equipment available – a combination of shapers, lathes, planers and milling machines, they obtained the final level of accuracy to produce perfect tooling by long and arduous fitting work. Potteries Die has always had a policy of investing in “state of the art” machinery, capable of working to increasingly fine tolerances, and thus minimising the final fitting work and speeding up the production of the tool or component.

Optical slide readouts were introduced in the 1960s to help manual machinists achieve greater accuracy and were followed in the 1970s by digital readouts. The first on-site CNC miller entered service in 1981 and soon afterwards Optiform grinders were installed to enable precision form grinding to be achieved.


In the same decade the company began EDM (electrical discharge machining) with the use of a spark eroding machine, and within 10 years had a range of CNC spark and wire eroders. The EDM section continues to be an essential part of the company’s ability to undertake jobs fully in-house and our latest investment in new EDM machines, purchased from Sodick in Coventry has added the increased accuracy associated with linear motor technology and wire hole driller capable of producing holes as small 0.25mm diameter.


Over the last 20 years we have continued to develop our CAD /CAM facilities allowing the visual representation of customers’ ideas, the easy transfer of design details between us and our customers and the full automation of many of our machining operations.


Nevertheless, successful bespoke toolmaking still requires talented and skilled individuals. When asked how toolmaking has changed, Geoff Windsor, our longest serving fitter with almost 50 years service, said “Nowadays the work is more precise; delivery dates are very tight. It is now a very competitive market and this creates more pressure on the toolmaker to deliver the goods. The wide range of supporting machinery capable of working accurately and speedily is now essential to allow us to meet the expectations of our customers”.


It is a fundamental part of the company’s philosophy to spend time working closely with customers to understand and meet their needs precisely and to form mutually beneficial relationships. A team of over 20 experienced toolmakers, machinists and professional engineers continues to take pride in delivering the high quality of workmanship required to meet our customers’ specifications. The fact that the company has conformed to Quality Assurance standards since their introduction and is fully accredited to current ISO 9000 standards underpins this commitment to excellence.


Although it no longer fully reflects the wide range of work we undertake, in 2004 when we became part of pdc precision engineers ltd, we decided to retain our original name as a reminder of a long history that has always been synonymous with the highest quality of precision engineering, design and innovation.


You can find more information about the Potteries Die Company, an example of the techniques involved in moving customers ideas from design to reality and more detail on what we offer on our latest web site which was commissioned at the beginning of 2008.

If you would like to discuss whether we can be of any assistance to you please contact our MD Bob Dunleavy or any of our team on 01782 534348 or request a brochure by phoning or e-mailing


April 2007

Company Press Release – Further Investment in New Equipment at Potteries Die

We are pleased to announce the commissioning of 2 new EDM machines. The first of these is a Sodick AQ300L Precision Wire EDM using linear technology, so providing greater machining speeds, coupled with enhanced accuracy. This has been complemented with a high speed EDM hole driller, also from Sodick, which can produce holes in the range of 0.25mm and 3mm diameter. This is particularly valuable for inserting holes in materials which cannot be machined by traditional methods.

The capital investment within Potteries Die has now exceeded £100k since it became a part of pdc Precision Engineers Ltd.

Rob Harris, Chairman of pdc, stressed recently his commitment to continued investment in equipment that would strengthen The Potteries Die's efficiency and performance, so benefiting both the company and its many customers.

May 2007 – Magazine Article

by Robert Dunleavy

Robert Dunleavy joined the company in 1960 as an apprentice and became Managing Director in 2006.

He is also a director and part owner of pdc precision engineers ltd
of which the Potteries Die Company Ltd is a part.


Robert Dunleavy
Managing Director

For instance, some people mistakenly think we manufacture colours or clay pots!

In fact, the company name was chosen by the first owners to emphasise their association with that part of Staffordshire that was famous throughout the world for supplying high quality ceramic goods – ‘The Potteries’. As precision engineers and toolmakers, they believed that this new company’s name should also include that essential element of much ceramic production ­- the ‘die’, used on presses for forming tiles and bricks. Incorporated 70 years ago next month, The Potteries Die Company was located then, as now, in Norton, Stoke on Trent.

The company prospered by providing precision engineering and design expertise of the highest quality. Working with its famous customers it helped them introduce automation into their factories in the UK and at their subsidiaries overseas. Brochures in the company’s archives dating from the 1950’s track the changing course of  Potteries Die’s production from designing and making dies to the latest automated machines, designed for tile gauging, fettling, and also “ concavity/convexity units”, exported to places as diverse as South America, Sweden, and New Zealand.

The Potteries Die Company has continued to prosper. Skills developed for the ceramic industry have been built upon and adapted to support new industries requiring bespoke precision engineering, either for maintenance or new projects. Spending time working closely with customers to understand and meet their needs in detail and to form mutually beneficial relationships remains a fundamental part of the company’s philosophy. Our team of over 20 experienced toolmakers, machinists and professional engineers continue to take pride in delivering the high quality of workmanship required to meet customers’ specifications. The fact that the company has conformed to Quality Assurance standards since their introduction and is now fully accredited to current ISO 9000 standards underpins this commitment to excellence.

Our name no longer fully reflects the wide range of work we undertake. However, in 2004 when we became part of pdc precision engineers ltd, we decided to retain it as a reminder of a long history that has always been synonymous with the highest quality of precision engineering, design and innovation. It is a name which has been relied upon by discerning customers for seven decades and one that the current owners intend will continue to represent the highest level of quality and service in the 21st century.

If you believe we can be of assistance to you please either contact me, Bob Dunleavy, or any of our team on 01782 534348 or request a brochure by phoning or e-mailing

July 2006

Senior Management Changes at Potteries Die Ltd

Rob Harris, Managing Director of the Potteries Die Co Ltd, announced that he was stepping down from the position following his move away from the area. Bob Dunleavy has agreed to take over as Managing Director and has promoted Nick Leake to the position of General Manager. Rob Harris will remain as a director and chairman of pdc precision engineers ltd

December 2004

Company Press Release – Investment in new equipment continues at Potteries Die. The new owners of the company are pleased to announce the purchase of new surface grinding machinery from XYZ which was installed earlier this month, over the last 5 years considerable investment has been made within the company on CNC Milling. This new investment confirms the new owners intention to continue developing the company to meet customers’ needs in the most efficient manner.

November 2004 – The Potteries Die Company has a new owner

A Message from the Board of “The Potteries Die Company Limited”

We are delighted to let you know formally about a change of ownership of The Potteries Die Company, which we believe will result in benefits to all our customers. 

The previous owners of this company decided to retire during 2004 and we have recently achieved a management buy out.
A new company “pdc precision engineers limited” has been formed of which the directors of Potteries Die have the controlling interest. This new company owns outright the Potteries Die Company.

As you may know Potteries Die was incorporated back in the 1930’s to supply the ceramics industry with all types of dies and moulds. It now has an established reputation for quality of service within a wide range of industries that require customised precision engineering. However our long standing skills associated with die design and manufacture remain particularly strong, due to in-depth design knowledge and highly experienced, skilled toolmakers, several of whom have spent their working lives with us.

The Potteries Die Company has prospered by working closely and confidentially with many customers to develop tooling that maximises their manufacturing efficiency. Forming long term partnerships that are mutually profitable remains an essential part of our strategy. A number of companies have been with us for over 30 years, one for over 50.

The Directors are pleased to be part of a company management team that has extensive experience at senior level within both family businesses and large plcs. This helps us to better understand your problems and more able to assist you to find ways to meet your objectives.

Although not immediately apparent to customers we have embarked on a policy of implementing changes to increase efficiency within our company. One part of that improvement comes from feedback we receive and how we act upon it. Consequently we plan to arrange meetings with our customers so that we can be sure of providing a quality and cost effective service that will benefit both you and The Potteries Die Co Ltd operationally and financially.


Robert J Harris                           Robert K Dunleavy                 Edward W Keeling
Managing Director                      Works Director                       Financial Director & Company Secretary

November 2004










From Design to Reality

A summary of the varied items produced by our customers using the tooling manufactured and supplied by us .

> A case study

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between precision engineers ltd and the Potteries Die Co Ltd.

> more information