We Are Brompton | Rebecca Summers
We are creators. Everyone at Brompton plays a small part in making these bikes and getting them into the hands of people to ride, find their route and enjoy.
From first sketches through to today, it’s the people behind the product that make us different.
Decades of hard work and so many stories. We are Brompton.
Rebecca Summers started in our Pre-Pre-Assembly team in 2009 and when she joined our small brazing team in 2011, she was the first female to do so, going on to master her craft as a Raw Lacquer Brazer.
Can you explain what exactly brazing is?
To put it simply, it’s combining two separate metals to create a strong structure that’ll last.
As a production team, we work together to make different parts of the bikes. There are 39 parts that come together to form the skeleton of the bike (Rear Frame, Main Frame and Forks).
Can you tell us how it felt to be the first female brazer?
People are sometimes surprised when I tell them that I’m a brazer, but I didn’t really think much of it to be honest! It was nice to be given the opportunity to challenge myself and take a step outside my comfort zone.
I was at a birthday breakfast, put on by the company, when our CEO Will Butler-Adams wanted to see more females apply for the position. It was a lightbulb moment for me as brazing is very creative, something I’ve always wanted in my career. I was keen to find out more so approached Will later to ask some questions… Two years down the line, I’d completed my training and started my new role.
Can you talk us through the training process?
It takes 1-2 years to start producing consistent work and we’re marked against a 5-stage grading system.
We have a course of classroom sessions, studying some chemistry like the properties of metals and elements we’ll be working with. Learning different materials and being a perfectionist helped me throughout my training as brazing requires close care and attention to detail. This makes sure the bike is high quality (structurally and aesthetically). Safety is another big part of the course because we work alongside potential hazards every day.
Once you’ve understood the theory your torch becomes your pen and you just run away with it! Everyone develops their own style which makes every piece of work totally unique; no two bikes will ever be the same. They’re one of a kind which you wouldn’t find if we didn’t hand braze our bikes. I’m trained in brazing all parts of the bike: forks, main frame and rear frame so I now own a bike that was brazed entirely by me!
In your opinion, what makes working at Brompton special?
It’s hard to give you a specific answer because I have so many memories! I joined Brompton when I was 19 so pretty much grew up with the company, probably spending more time here than I have at my own house! It feels like a family to me and I find the way everyone comes together to contribute to one great product is particularly special.
If I had to pick one aspect though, it would be knowing that the bikes I help make every day are being used all around the world. No matter where I go, I could find a piece of my work. This inspires me to keep creating! When I first started brazing, I said I wanted to go all the way to New York and touch a bike that I’d made back home in London!
I sometimes think when I’m on the train… ‘Is that bike one of mine?’ and take a look at the braze signature (the marking made on metal work unique to each individual brazer). It’s cool to know that your work is used worldwide.
If you could swap roles with anyone at Brompton for the day, who would it be?
It would have to be Lavinia (HR People Manager)! I’d love to work in HR and find out exactly what’s going on with people behind the scenes. Their team is the emotional heart of the company and look after everybody well. There are so many heads under one roof at Brompton, so I know there’d be lots going on. I feel like it would be quite a cool job to do, but I guess you don’t know until you try…
Also, I’m a people person so I feel like I’d have a lot to give to the HR team!
You said you’re a creative person. Have you always had a creative flair?
My love for life and creativity is part of my personality. Before joining Brompton, I trained as a hairdresser. These are obviously two very different careers, but I’ve always embraced challenges and change which I feel helps me pick up skills quickly.
It’s great to see raw parts come together to form a useful product that can last for years. Recently, I’ve been getting creative planning my wedding. I’m the opposite to my partner… I always think ahead to the future, so I’m glad he’s not responsible for it! This helps me set long term goals to work towards.
I can also sing. Well, I used to a lot… not so much anymore. When I was younger, you’d always find me at an open mic somewhere in London. I’d sing Alicia Keys, Adele or Amy Winehouse. It’s often a shock to people when I go on a karaoke or get up on stage with a microphone.
Do you have a favourite musical artist?
Choosing one would be impossible! I’ll have to give you a few: Elton John, ABBA and Ed Sheeran.
You said you like planning. What would you like to do within the next 10 years?
Travelling more would be great, learning about the world… get beyond Europe! I want to see new places! Travel broadens the mind so much.
Also, working with aeroplanes and learning a new type of brazing would be interesting.
What’s been your most memorable moment since joining Brompton?
It would have to be meeting Prince Phillip, when we opened the new factory in Greenford. It was a special experience.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
Me and my fiancé love travelling to Europe as much as we can. However, because of the wedding we’ve put it on hold to save for a bigger adventure to Kenya. I’ve always wanted to go on safari, so I’m excited to tick it off the bucket list next year. We both love animals!
I love spending time with my family too. Being the youngest of 5 siblings, I have lots of nieces and nephews. My eldest niece actually works at here at Brompton!
Working at Brompton got me into cycling which has been a great way for my fiancé and I to keep fit! I really enjoy socialising with work mates and doing fun rides.
My biggest achievement was completing London to Brighton. I didn’t even sign up for it, someone else signed me up! I couldn’t really say no because it was for charity. Not being an avid rider back then, Box Hill in Surrey was a challenge! I saw a few surprised faces when they saw me at the top riding a Brompton. It was an unforgettable experience and something I’m proud of to this day.
What’s been your favourite travel destination?
That’s a hard one, I’ve been to a lot of places in Europe! I’d have to say Rome though. I love Italian food, especially authentic pepperoni pizza. Tenerife has a close place in my heart though because I got engaged there.
It takes the hard work of every single Brompton staff member to take our little folding bikes from the first sketch to shipping them out our door. To see our whole factory in action, check out our “How a Brompton is made” video.