Ex-Marine Michael swaps guns for laser engraving

Sunderland Council leader Coun Graeme Miller with ex-Marine Michael  O'Donnell, who has set up Advanced Engravers in Washington.
Sunderland Council leader Coun Graeme Miller with ex-Marine Michael O'Donnell, who has set up Advanced Engravers in Washington.

A long-serving Royal Marine has returned to the North East to try his hand at laser engraving.

Michael O’Donnell spent 22 years as a weapons instructor in the Royal Marines and is currently in the two-year resettlement period that precedes the return to civilian life.

With support from Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, he has secured a unit on Pattison South Industrial Estate in Washington.

Michael set up his business, Advanced Engravers, while working in a mentoring role at the HMS Calliope naval base on the Tyne at Gateshead.

He said: “When I left school, I worked in an engraving factory before I decided to join the forces.

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 at it alone.

“It’s exciting to step into the unknown and move forward with your own business.”

Michael’s military career saw him go on tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

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

It has enjoyed a bumper first quarter, with schools, pubs, engineering businesses and numerous consumers enlisting its services.

The business took off when Michael invested in a state-of-the-art laser engraving machine, and he has now been able to purchase a second one.

He said: “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.

“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.”