A business leader from Swansea is this month celebrating 30 years in business with one of the country’s leading high-spec construction and maintenance companies and says he has seen changes both within his company and across the industry over the years.
Managing director of the construction division of The Premier Group, Steve Evans, started with the national fuel engineering specialist in April 1988. He joined the company after completing a successful carpentry apprenticeship and has worked for the firm ever since.
Steve has seen many changes across his 30 year career, not least growth within the construction division. When Evans joined back in 1988, the company had 4 employees – now there are 80 members of staff.
However, staff numbers are not the only thing to have changed in Evans’ career – he says that the construction and fuel sectors have been constantly evolving. Over the years, he has had to contend with learning how to run, develop and grow the business within a constantly changing market.
Evans says that identifying and adapting to such changes has been one of the company’s biggest challenges, as well as a personal one:
“There has been a lot of growth and success, but we have also taken quite a few knocks along the way. It is how we have been able to adapt, learn and become better as a team that has made us successful. Without so many good people working with me, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have today. It’s the people I work with that have given me my proudest moments in the business and it’s important to me to be a part of their development.”
When Evans was new to the sector, unleaded fuel was just taking off, and the primary source of income for petrol stations was fuel. These days, the retail offering is as important as the fuel. Evans believes a new challenge for the industry is to install sufficient charging points to support fast growth in the demand for electric vehicles.
There is strong ambition for the construction division of The Premier Group to continue to grow. The company has started to undertake more work outside of the petroleum industry in recent years, and has taken on more traditional building and maintenance contracts. The general shortage of construction workers, combined with the company’s experience in a specialist, demanding sector means they are uniquely positioned to deliver the highest levels of safety and quality. Evans says:
“The business plans to grow more into traditional markets, which we are optimistic about. We have the advantage of specialist experience from completing large projects with very unique specifications. I look forward to seeing what the future brings as we increase our presence in this market.”
However, for Evans, the thing he is most proud of is the improved standards and increasingly professional perception of the construction industry he has witnessed throughout his career.
Construction, he says, has progressed into a far more professional and safer industry to work in. Builders are no longer perceived as a low paid workforce, and working in construction now offers a desirable, fulfilling career. Far from being a ‘default option’, roles within the industry are now viewed as highly skilled and very well paid – and the shortage of construction workers means qualified professionals can expect to be in demand throughout their career.
So does Evans have advice for new entrants to the industry? Evans says:
“I’ve learnt that through hard work you can achieve anything – you just have to work harder at the things you’re not so good at!“
“I feel lucky – I’ve have been with the company for 30 years, and I’ve had the opportunities to progress through the business rather than having to leave to progress. I’m looking forward to the future.”