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  • Writer's pictureSCH Site Services

Meet our Operations Director, Andy, who’s celebrating 20 years of service.

Let’s see what he has to say….


A man in a puffer jacket sitting in a chair.

What initially attracted you to SCH Site Services, and what has kept you here for so many years?

“I was in the army for 14 years as Royal Engineer. I was in the last Gulf War. At this time, I had a young daughter at home and decided it was no longer the life for me. So, after a relatively long career, I decided to retire.


“A friend of mine had done a crane course as part of his army resettlement so I decided to also do a crane course. Once complete, I sent my CV everywhere, but nobody was hiring at the time. I eventually spoke to John Finley and he gave me a trial. Because I had been doing plant operation in the army, I picked up the functions of the crane very quickly, so I became a crane driver on site. I was in this role for about 6 years.


“When on site, I began to develop an interest in the workings of steel. Around this time, I found I enjoyed liaising with clients and speaking to people; something you can’t do as a crane driver! I asked for opportunities to do work in the office and learn more about the process side and how the steelwork gets made and delivered to site. I then started doing the method statements and risk assessments and organising the labour to go to sites, which eventually led me to take on an erection managers role.


“I then moved to the construction managers role which started to get me more involved in processes and procedures, giving me more opportunity to deal with clients, working with design teams and structural engineers.”

 

Can you share some highlights from your journey with SCH over the years?

“There have been many highlights but one in particular is the Drax Power Station Job which we completed about 12 years ago. I was in charge of the site side. The job involved using the biggest crane I’d ever used, the biggest cherry picker ever used and I got to learn about the lift plans and processes involved in crawler cranes and doing heavy lifting operations. The job was erecting the conveyor steel work system for the new biomass plant.


“I also enjoy working alongside the people we have brought through the business, helping them progress to the level they are now and witnessing their growth.


“Another highlight was when we developed a positive lifting device for erecting hollow section, earning a patent on a Lifting Interface. At the time, there was no positive lifting device on the market for hollow section steel. I designed a sleeve insert that goes inside the hollow section and can stay in the section for life, aiding insulation. After 2 years of pushing and constant development I’m named as the inventor.”


What do you think sets SCH apart from other companies in the steel fabrication sector?

“We all have a desire to do a good job. We aren’t focused on making as much money as we can, we are focused on client satisfaction and never being beaten. I like the fact we get approached by multiple different contractors to ask our advice at their tender stage. Helping and supporting others sets us aside.”

 

Can you tell us about a particularly challenging project you've worked on and how you overcame obstacles?

“The most challenging is also the Drax Power Station job. We had to learn a range of different lifting techniques, including the use of crawler cranes. We also had to manage both day and night shifts. This project had every challenge in it! Working in close proximity (approximately 600mm) with a coal structure which couldn’t be touched and lifted was a particular challenge, especially when dealing with 150 tonne gantry sections at 50+ meters radius.”

 

How do you see SCH contributing to the future of the steel industry?

“I am proud to say, SCH is getting stronger every year. We don’t ever see SCH as expanding over a manageable size. We know our own expectations and don’t exceed what we offer. We are happy to be a small to medium steel fabricator which offers a quality product.”

 

What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to work in the steel fabrication field?

“Listen to the people who have the experience because it’s all about people and challenges they have overcome. Listen to how they have overcome their challenges. You can’t get that from a book! It’s an industry where everyday is different with new challenges and if you want to be challenged in life, it’s the industry to come into.”

 

How does SCH support continuous learning and development among its employees?

“Both Gary and I have an open-door policy where we believe people should be encouraged to ask questions. Come and lean on our experience. We also put the employees through lots of training courses, ensuring there is constant development in line with changing industry.”

 

What motivates you to come to work every day?

“The challenge: the challenge to deliver.”

 

Can you talk about a project that you’re particularly proud to have been a part of?

“I can honestly say I’m proud of all contracts as every contract has had its own challenges. I’m one of these people who drives around the northeast pointing out projects I’ve been part of!”

 

What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the steel industry today?

“The cost of raw materials as well as a lack of skilled labour coming into the industry. This could possibly be due to too many people seeing it as a hard manual job. It’s very demanding, especially on site. You are working in all conditions, battling against all the elements! Because the right people aren’t always coming into the industry, the knowledge set is retiring away. We are at risk of losing knowledge that has been generated over the years.”

 

And here are some quick-fire, fun questions:

What's your favourite part of the steel fabrication process?

“Liasing with clients, speaking to people, problem solving.”


If you could fabricate anything out of steel, what would it be?

“My house.”


 What's the most interesting thing you've ever built or worked on?

“Working within the production facility of BAE systems.”


Outside of work, what are your hobbies or interests?

“I like playing golf. I find the golf course very relaxing.”

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