U.K. native James Brooks joined Valley Forge in 2018 as head of engineering and business development. Brooks, a U.S. resident for over 25 years, has expertise in solutions-oriented companies from diverse markets like aerospace, power gen, defense, and, of course, fastening. He has more than 10 years of experience in critical bolting, working in operations, business development, and global strategy.
Here are three questions from an interview with James—two for work, one for fun.
With such a diverse professional background, what made you choose Valley Forge?
Valley Forge is well known for its reputation built on service, quality, and problem-solving. It’s rare to find a fastener company with these qualities—coupled with in-house forging, heat treating, and successful vertical integration. Here, I’m part of a company that is first in its field and is constantly innovating. That’s my kind of company. After all, who wants to follow when you can lead?
What is your approach to engineering and business development?
For many years, my focus has been on raising awareness about the improvements in safety, accuracy, reliability, and maintainability that are realized through adoption of tension-based tightening methods on bolted joints, versus torque. The critical bolting world is changing. Our future involves developing new products—those based on existing Valley Forge technologies and those from ongoing innovation.
We have thousands of tension-verifying bolts installed worldwide, many of which are now coupled with our new generation of Wi-Fi-enabled remote tension sensors. We’re putting significant effort into expanding our offering of wireless bolt-monitoring devices. [See our article about Valley Forge’s development of a new low-frequency wireless probe, also in this issue.]
What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?
I love to travel to places that are not frequented by regular tourists. My wife and I have been to many off-the-beaten-path places in South America and China. I like languages and speak French and Portuguese. But if you’re after an eye-opener, I also enjoy riding my penny-farthing [a large bicycle from the late 1800s with an extremely large front tire and significantly smaller rear tire]. I’ve always been into bike riding. I was a road racer in my teens and twenties in the United Kingdom and, in fact, used to ride for my county (Hertfordshire). Something from that experience made the challenge of the penny-farthing seem intriguing. There are NO BRAKES, so do not attempt to ride downhill and take your feet off the pedals. It’s very dangerous. Trust me, I did this!