Firm not coasting despite 35 years of continued growth

Owen McLaughlin, Managing Director of Clyde Coast Contracts, has witnessed many milestones since joining the firm when he left school as a 16-year-old.

He was there when the company bought its first mobile phone in the 1980s - which he says was 'the size of a car battery'.

Owen also recalls the purchase of their first computer and, perhaps most significantly, the move from a "hut" to their new state-of-the-art premises just three years ago.

This year, the Ayrshire based firm is celebrating 35 years in the construction sector - no mean feat given the turbulent nature of the industry at times over the past three-and-a half decades.

Established in 1979 by Owen's father, Owen Snr, the company has been through several recessions and come out fighting.

Today they have around 70 employees, work in a number of sectors and count some of the biggest names in construction among their clients.

But the firm is still very much a family affair with several family members in high-profile roles and an impressive number of long-serving employees.

Owen said, "We've had over 500 jobs on our order books since 1995.  We're predominantly a groundwork firm but we've been involved in projects from social housing and care homes to schools and prisons.  We've done some self-builds too. 

In the early days the business operated from a house, then in the mid 90's we moved into what was basically a hut.  We outgrew that so three years ago we demolished that and moved into this building."

The new offices are equipped with all mod cons including a gym, meeting room and new computer system.

"Despite the recession, we have continually grown and both turnover and the value of the company is up," Owen added.

"My hope for the future is that we can maintain what we're doing.   I believe in staying with what we're good at.  If something's not broke, don't try to fix it.

My dad was really hardworking and along with his brothers built the business up from scratch.  He bought a few machines and took it from there. 

I've been with the firm for 28 years and I was involved even before that.  This is what I was bred to do."

Owen puts much of the success down to strong family values. "You need to have trust.  If you have folk working for you who are always going to put in 100%, you're always going to do well.  We have people who have been with us for decades.  They know how the company works and have built their working lives around the firm". 

Owen added, "The vast majority of our employees are from the local area and 70% of our work is repeat business".

Owen has seen some incredible changes to the industry over the years - and not all for the better.

"The whole construction sector is cut-throat now," he said.  There's a lot of work out there but every penny is a prisoner.  I'd love to see some of the competitiveness taken out and the industry prospering again.  You used to have two or three guys fighting for a job - now it's into double figures".

There are positives however, and Owen is complimentary about the work by politicians to promote the number of apprentices in the industry.  "My advice to young people thinking about a career in construction is that if you're willing to work at it, you'll make a good living.  We have three apprentices at the moment and the Government is helping us with this, which is great because if no one is training youngsters, there will be no one to do the work in the future. 

"To survive for 35 years under the same name in this industry is some achievement.

We've invested in things like our engineer and technology.  And we recently appointed a construction buyer. 

"We've kept up to speed with things and are more switched on than ever.  These days you need to be or you won't survive"

Completing groundworks and development projects on time within budget since 1979

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Clyde Coast Contracts Ltd.
36 Green Street

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