“Real Madrid.” That’s the analogy chosen by London South East Colleges executive Bob Noseda to describe what he’s seen of Lucas and its work.
Clearly he’s a fan – and you can see why he might be impressed by the painting, decorating and interior fit-out firm.
Walking into Lucas’ visitors centre, you’re greeted with a glossy lobby that opens into an innovation lab full of memorabilia from previous jobs, collected by executive chairman and managing director Danny Lucas through the years.
There are a number of accreditations as well as award wins (including Specialist of the Year at last year’s CN Awards).
Along for this morning’s tour of the visitor centre in Wrotham, Kent, are a selection of students from nearby East Kent College in Folkestone. A mix of men and women, the trainees are studying painting and decorating and range between Levels 1-3.
They’re the first batch; there will be another group arriving in the afternoon, their instructor informs me.
She adds that youngsters need to see places like Lucas’ facility when they’re 14-15 to show them the true face of construction.
The tour itself takes in a number of elements of the business: we start with an introduction from training and apprenticeship manager Barry Mason, who runs through the basics, including what the business is doing to gain a competitive edge.
From then we move into another lab where a few modular pods sit, their sleek designs appearing to further impress the students.
Lucas has implemented a new app in recent weeks, we’re told, which requires workers to sign in and out on their mobile devices. This data is transferred to a larger interface, and a monitor in the head office displays the firm’s projects as well as the the workers on site.
I speak to Fraser – a student from Tonbridge who’s on work experience. He’s been out on some of the sites during the week, including 22 Bishopsgate. Fraser says a lot of the innovations on show are like nothing he’s seen before.
We end the tour with an interactive quiz on what we’ve seen and been told. I’m told no one’s got 100 per cent yet, but moments laters one of the students becomes the first to get full marks.
Before we leave there’s time for another quick chat with Bob, who argues that showcasing how construction stands out from other industries is what the next generation need to see.
“Real Madrid,” he nods to me again.