A long-serving Royal Marine has returned to his native North East to forge a new path as an entrepreneur.

Michael O’Donnell, who has spent 22 years as a weapons instructor in the Royal Marines, has launched an engraving business in Sunderland and has already attracted a flurry of new customers.

Advanced Engravers supplies laser-engraved products, including glassware, signage and bespoke gifts, to customers across the country.

The company has enjoyed a bumper first quarter in business, with schools, pubs, engineering businesses and numerous consumers enlisting its services.

Michael, whose military career took in tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland, is currently in the two-year resettlement period that precedes the return to civilian life.

While working in a mentoring role at the HMS Calliope naval base on the Tyne at Gateshead, he has also been busy laying the foundations for his business.

Armed with advice and support from Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, he secured a unit on Pattison South Industrial Estate in Washington.

Having invested in a state-of-the-art laser engraving machine, he has now been able to purchase a second one.

With two production lines, Michael plans to scale the business up as demand grows.

He also aims to create new jobs for fellow ex-service personnel in the region.

He says: “When I left school I worked in an engraving factory before I decided to join the forces. So my career has gone full circle, although the technology has moved on a lot since then.

There are plenty of jobs for people coming out of the forces but I really wanted to go it alone. It’s exciting to step into the unknown and move forward with your own business.

“I got a taste of how rewarding it is to create something from scratch in the Royal Marines when I invented a concept for a ballistic calculator for machine guns. It took me five years to bring the equipment into service, project managing it along the way, and it’s still being used today.

“I’m currently in the process of building the reputation of the business before I ramp up the advertising, but customer demand so far has been really encouraging. As the business grows, I’m really keen to employ people with a services background, since we all tend to have the same work ethic and mentality.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of the Sunderland City Council, says: “Starting up in business can be incredibly tough but Michael’s background will have given him the resilience and decision-making skills needed to succeed.

“He has also entered a market of high demand from a diverse mix of customer groups, which will also put the company in good stead as it establishes itself and looks to create new jobs in Sunderland in the future. We’re here to advise and support start-ups and growing businesses in the city to help them thrive like Michael’s looks set to do.”

For more on Advanced Engravers visit www.advancedengravers.co.uk. To find out more about investing in Sunderland go to www.makeitsunderland.com.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

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