Simon Gregory was already well on his way up the engineering ladder before he decided to make the leap into the world of construction. Today, he is not only Managing Director of Lindum Construction, but also on the board of a group which employs about 500 people and had a turnover of £94 million in 2013.
This feature interview was first published in issue three of the new Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
After getting a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Newcastle University — as part of a sandwich course sponsored by Mather & Platt — he spent five years working within manufacturing, before joining RGT (now Siemens) in Lincoln.
“I came to RGT in 1987 and worked as a production controller, but a couple of years later I made a radical decision and snapped-up the chance to join building firm Bowmer & Kirkland in Derby, which was looking for graduates from a different discipline,” said Simon.
“I went from being halfway up the engineering career ladder and overseeing the work of 50 engineers to the bottom rung of the construction ladder, where I found myself on a building site making tea for the lads.”
By 1998, Simon had tired of the daily commute between Lincoln and Derby so, out of the blue he fired off a “have you any jobs?” letter to Lindum. His timing was perfect.
Simon was born in Nottingham in 1960, but grew up in Holloway, near Matlock (where he went to school). He has now spent longer working in the building industry than he did within engineering. However, he’s certainly not left it behind.
“This country, and indeed this city, has a fantastic engineering heritage, which is matched by the engineering going on to this day. We just don’t hear enough about it.”
Surviving the recession
Simon’s quite at home at Lindum, but he strongly believes that having a sound knowledge of engineering is a major asset when it comes to forging strong working relationships with many of the group’s clients.
Having as much expertise as possible at your fingertips cannot be under-rated, especially at times such as the recent recession and also when you are on the lookout for new opportunities as the economy picks up.
“The recession was as tough as it was painted in the media. As far as Lindum is concerned, we have been very lucky. We have quite a stable client base and we have not been over-exposed in any one sector,” said Simon.
“We have managed to weather the storm and have even opened an office in York, although that is still in its infancy. We have seen an upturn in the industry over the past nine to twelve months, but my personal opinion is that it (the recovery) is probably still a bit fragile.