The family way
Companies have different approaches to dealing with the adversity of a downturn. For one Ayrshire family-owned business, it's a case of rolling up the sleeves and getting on with it.
It goes without saying that Clyde Coast Contracts would have preferred to celebrate its 30th anniversary in more prosperous times but while it is appropriate to look over its shoulder at three decades of achievement, the company is more concerned with the present and the future.
However, if there is currently a sense of deja vu at the company Ayr headquarters it's understandable; Clyde Coast Contracts has been in a recession before It emerged from that one (in the 1980's) in a strong position and its growth and diversification since then has made it even stronger. The firm's confidence in future prospects is underlined by its plans to move to a purpose-built headquarters in the near future. And, naturally, it will build the property itself.
The firm was established by Owen McLaughlin, initially undertaking small-scale civil engineering works and over the years it has completed more than 400 separate contracts. And while ground works and infrastructure remain its core business, these days it can be found operating on big earthmoving jobs, PFI schools projects, large drainage schemes, industrial units, town centre shopping and residential developments, all of which have helped contribute to a record turnover of £5.5m.
The founder's son, Owen (Jnr), believes that such a wide variety of capabilities has made it ideally placed to weather the worst of the downturn. "While we have not escaped the effects of recession, our spread of clients and our range of skills means we are progressing well", he said.
Loyalty, from clients and workforce alike, have also contributed to Clyde Coast's reputation as a solid and dependable contractor. A strong family background has helped; as Owen (Snr) moved into semi-retirement he has been succeeded as managing director by Owen (Jnr) and the McLaughlin clan is further represented in various management and administration positions by Michael, Anthony and Rosemary.
Owen (Jnr) also paid tribute to the firms other 'family', a number of long-serving employees which have helped strengthen Clyde Coast's reputation for consistency. And just a important has been the continued loyalty shown over the years by major client such as Cruden, ROK, Carillion, Clark Contracts and Apollo Group. "We like to think that those companies keep coming back to use because they can rely on us to get the job done.", said Owen. "Strong relationships are more important than ever in times like this".
It was another customer Mowlem (now Carillion) which presented CCC with the opportunity to showcase its wide range of skills on a single site, the nearby Ayr Central Shopping Centre which was developed by Henry Boot. There, it was involved in heavy civils work, a major earthmoving operation of 35,000 cub. metres, concrete retaining walls, drainage system, foundations and structural steelwork for the 300,000 sq. ft. development with underground park for 495 vehicles.
"Thant one contract, carried out over a year, gave us the chance to show just what we can do", recalled Owen.
When he took on the mantle of managing director he brought with him an extensive knowledge of building and that experience has since been applied to eight self-build projects throughout Ayrshire, a large extension to a local school for South Ayrshire Council and £2m care home in Beith.
In recent times the company has moved into the development sector with notable success, starting off with a 22-home project in Darvel, and is now looking at constructing industrial units for small businesses.
Meanwhile, as Owen (Snr) continues to enjoy his semi-retirement, he is confident that the business remains in good hands. "When I look at the company now I'm happy with the way it's shaping up. Yes, the recession has affected us but perhaps not as badly as many other companies. For example, following the downward trend we have been successful in breaking into extensive Rail-track works in East Ayrshire. At times like these you have to be able to play to your strengths and that's exactly what we are doing. We're looking ahead, not back".