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60 second interview - People focus helps Trant drive up local turnover


David Perry has recently been promoted to director of Hampshire-based contracting firm Trant Group. He speaks to Jo Kerr about his new role, golf and tactics for professional success.

What is your background?

My start in the industry came at John Mowlem, where I worked from 1978 until about four years ago.

Initially I was a quantity surveyor, and I then worked in contracts management in Bath and Bournemouth before becoming a regional director in the key accounts business.

How did you come to work for Trant?

I was made redundant during a reorganisation at John Mowlem but it turned out not to be a negative thing at all. As often happens, one door closes and another one opens.

I was familiar with the Trant Group and so it was very straightforward for me to go into discussions with them there. My years of experience and knowledge of the company helped me get that job.

What skills have you brought to your new role?

One of my best assets is that I am well known in the area, and know a lot of the key players - the architects and quantity surveyors for example. That really helps because this business is all about people. People don't work with businesses, people work with people.

I like to do a good deal of business on the golf course, all my colleagues joke about it but it means you can enjoy the game and get to know the person properly. It's vital to understand the client and the aim of the project precisely - I like to get into a client's head and know exactly what they want.

Tell us a bit about the background of the business.

The company was founded in 1958 by the father of our current chairman Patrick Trant . It's a multi disciplinary organisation with a range of projects in the building, water, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries. While we do work with big-name companies, we pride ourselves on being a fairly local family company.

The chairman has his office across the corridor from mine and with that you avoid all the bureaucracy of a big national business. All the workforce come from the local area and are directly employed by us.

This is very useful when it comes to an industrial project such as a big civil engineering job. It means we can use our own labour, taking out the middle man.

How are you going to go about increasing the company's turnover?

We want to increase turnover on the building side of the business, but the most important thing is to do it slowly.

It's the easiest thing in the world to get work, it's making it pay that is the hard part.

Being sustainable and aiming for long-term success is much better for all the people involved.

We don't want to expand geographically because our workforce doesn't want to travel long distances or stay away from home, but we would do it if it was repeat business for a previous client to maintain the relationship.

We'd also prefer to contin-ue with smaller projects over many sectors rather than going for big contracts and losing our diversity.