After years working for one of its subcontractors, Graham Williamson has jumped the fence and been appointed business development manager at Kier Building Maintenance. He talks to Paul Thompson about Decent Homes, 10-day house refurbs and sailing.
You joined Kier after working with concrete repair company Gunite for many years. How have you found the transition between specialist and major contractor?
The nature of the work is not dissimilar between the two but we are talking a whole different level of contract now, a completely different currency to the one I am used to. What I would have considered a huge contract a few months ago is now small fry. What being part of the massive machine that is the Kier Group means is that I am now one step closer to the ultimate client, but the business development process is identical.
You have been charged with developing the amount of business Kier Building Maintenance takes under the Government's Decent Homes initiative to improve the quality of social housing.
How will you manage it?
It's not as if we are starting from scratch. Kier Building Maintenance already has a £230 million turnover from social housing. Of that, probably about two-thirds is what could be termed 'reactive' maintenance. We also carry out 'void' refurbishment where we can otally repair and fit out a house within 10 days.
What we need to do is just expand that and take more from the planned maintenance side.
There's an awful lot of money left on that side of the business.
Ten days seems quick for a house refurbishment.
We have got it down pretty well now. Ealing Council has about 7,500 of the seach year and Sheffield City Council probably 15,000. It is an important part of the business.
The Luton office where you are based has been specifically set up to help Kier Building Maintenance generate more work in social housing, schools and other public buildings. Does that put any pressure on you?
Not really. It is a diversion from the normal Kier modus operandi, where they would secure a large contract, open an office to service that contract then build up the work it services. But I don't think there is any greater pressure because of that.
On a good day the office is about an hour's drive from my home but I don't envisage spending too much time in there. It is always better to speak to clients face to face, so I will spend most of my time on the road.
You race Merlin Rocket class sailing dinghies in your spare time. They are very quick boats and can be a bit 'tippy' - are they still as much fun to race?
My wife and kids all share the passion for racing Merlins and we travel all over the country.
The world and technology has moved on since they were first designed but for a 14 ft, two-man crew vessel they are still one of the quickest boats around.