Midlothian building services firm eyes growth11th February 2019
What is your business called?
M-Pact Building Services Group.
Where is it based?
Bilston Glen, Midlothian
What services does it offer?
Building services including mechanical and electrical, fit out and refurbishment. We started off as electrical contractors, but then kept being asked by customers to do other things, starting with putting up shelves, or to look at this, or that. We realized there was a need from customers for us to carry-out work that called upon us to broaden the range of works we were qualified initially to undertake.
To whom does it sell?
To individual end-users, financial institutions such as Baillie Gifford, Franklin Templeton, and FMC Technique, local authorities and hotel groups, such as Sheraton. We like working also with architects and specifiers
What is the turnover?
How many employees?
When was it formed?
Why did you take the plunge?
I had always wanted the excitement of running my own business. When coming to the end of my time as an electrician with Arthur McKay, now Servest, I decided to start M-Pact. The name is made up of my first initial and those of my brother-in-law, Paul Wringe, his wife and my sister, Andrea, and my wife, Claire.
What were you doing before you took the plunge?
I left school at 16 and quickly became a Postman working out of Edinburgh’s Brunswick Place Post Office. This involved a 4.00am rise from my parents’ house in Danderhall, Midlothian, but I enjoyed my four or five years there. With time, however, the job changed. I was asked to do night shifts which I didn’t take to, so decided to seek a change of career. I began doing labouring jobs with a property developer. Later, Claire and I gradually started doing a bit of property development ourselves, quite successfully as it turned out. Paul, an electrician to trade and 10 years older than me, was a key account manager at Servest looking after blue-chip businesses such as Scottish Widows and was looking for a labourer. He asked me if I was interested in joining him, so I laboured to an electrician for a while, enjoyed the work, then started a three-year adult apprenticeship to qualify as an electrician.
How did you raise the start-up funding?
I put up £5,000 from my savings, as did Paul. My Mum contributed a further £5,000, which I’m pleased to say she has been paid back. The remainder of our funding accumulated from cashflow over our first three years. We agreed to take out of the business only the sum on which we needed to live. This meant a 40 per cent drop in the salaries we had previously been earning. We were very disciplined about it and it worked for us.
What was your biggest break?
Winning a contract in 2010 to work on electrical controls systems for most of the high courts in the country. This set us up to take M-Pact to the next level.
What do you most enjoy about running the business?
I really enjoy seeing people come through the business and getting into senior roles. We have grown well as a business, but it is important to admit to yourself that you don’t know everything. We like to surround ourselves with good people who know what they are doing on our behalf in areas like, for example, IT. I hated it when the time came to come off the tools but now, really, I am never out of the office.
What are your ambitions for the business?
To leave a legacy and to have everyone in the business enjoy being here. We need to bring in more people because we want to double our turnover though we are cautious and conscious of the issues that rapid expansion might bring. We anticipate growth will be achieved but only on our terms.
What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?
They could help to create more apprenticeships. We have 10 apprentices currently, nearly 15 per cent of our entire workforce. We like to hire for attitude and then train them thoroughly. It seems to me a pity that there has been a shortage of funding for adult apprentices.
How do you relax?
With my wife and three daughters. I like to play golf, often at Archerfield, and I take lots of interest in the progress of Tranent Juniors FC where I am a committee member.