10 questions for Paul Anderson:
TC: What was your path into roofing and to your current position?
PA: In 1982, straight from Bexhill 6th Form College, I joined an established local roofing contractor as an Estimator. Over the next seven years I learnt all aspects of pitched and flat roofing from delivering materials, working on roofs, surveying and estimating. During this time I became a Supervisor and then a Contracts Manager.
Over the next 18 years I was based in Kent working throughout the South East on a wide range of projects. Then, in 1997, I went back to East Sussex working mainly on oak frame buildings for two years, and after this focusing for four years on single ply roofing throughout the South East. I’m currently working with Alincourt Roofing as a Contracts Manager, specialising in pitched and flat roofing.
Our first block of five houses needed to be commenced and completed within the week
TC: What’s the one key thing you’ve learned in that time?
PA: I would suggest the quality and reliability of your workforce is the key to a successful business.
TC: Tell us about a current project you’re working on…
PA: I am currently working on a diverse range of projects using a wide range of materials. From large projects of 100+ units for Taylor Wimpey and Linden Homes, using concrete plain tiles and concrete interlocking tiles; mid-size sites at Burgess Hill and Eastbourne Harbour using M.M Clay Plain Tiles and Spanish Slates; to one-off projects in the heart of Sussex Downs, using H.M Clay Nib tiles and Clay Peg tiles.
TC: You must have worked on some difficult projects over the years. Does one in particular stand out?
PA: The most difficult projects I have worked on were town centre developments – The Glades at Bromley and Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells, both at the same time in 1991. The main difficulties being timescales, logistics of deliveries and cranes, sequence of works etc. The Bromley job was subsequently all re-roofed five years later because of defective imported Spanish slates.
On meeting the site manager, I pointed out the party walls and gable walls were only halfway up and no fascia or soffits had been fitted. ‘That’s no problem’ he said, ‘you start tomorrow
TC: What about difficult customers? Any situations that stand out that you can tell us about?!
PA: Sometimes the well-known main contractors are very demanding and relentless in their quest to get roofs completed quicker. My first experience of Barratt Homes was in the late 1990s on a traditional built, 50 house project in Greenhithe, Kent. Our first block of five houses needed to be commenced and completed within the week.
On meeting the site manager, I pointed out the party walls and gable walls were only halfway up and no fascia or soffits had been fitted. ‘That’s no problem’ he said, ‘you start tomorrow – they can complete their works after you have finished’! Needless to say, it was a very long and painful six months.
TC: What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
PA: Having too many roofs ready for us at the same time and therefore not being able to cover them all with our current level of workforce. Also realising that in four months’ time we will need to secure more work for that same workforce.
Throughout the year, however, it is pleasantly surprising to reflect on how often the numbers do work out well on a weekly basis.
TC: And the most satisfying?
PA: There are several of these, including being able to give the workforce continuity of work, whilst at the same time seeing them enjoy their work and hopefully earning a good living; working with our customers, planning works and achieving targets and being able to appreciate the finished roofs; having minimum surplus materials at the end of a job and hopefully making a profit!
I would say – being old(!) – my experience is my most important tool. The IPhone comes a very close second though!
TC: What’s your most important tool as a roofing contractor, either in the office or on site?
PA: I would say – being old(!) – my experience is my most important tool. The IPhone comes a very close second though!
TC: What’s the best social media platform for you as a roofing contractor?
PA: Again we tend to use traditional methods for promotion. Reputation, performance and a good regular customer base has always served the company well.
TC: How do you feel your sector’s shaping up in 2018? Are there reasons to be positive?
PA: Things are shaping up well this year. We have carried out a consistent level of work and have an order book value to see us well into next year.
Most people on site at the moment are talking positively about the future.