10 questions for Karl Sands:
TC: What was your path into roofing and to your current position?
KS: At the age of 21 I found myself at a crossroads in my life after serving as a Police Constable for three years, feeling disheartened in an occupation that I had envisioned for my future. I made a conscious decision to look towards a new horizon and having always had a passion for working with my hands and somewhat a natural eye for detail, I sought out a career in the construction industry.
After some time looking for the right opportunity, it was a friend who offered me a position working with his labour only roofing and cladding team. Following only a week on site, I quickly realised that this was an industry that I could easily enjoy working in and from there, I took it upon myself to gain every qualification made available to me and progressed to a supervisor role.
Following five years in the industry, I decided that it was time to start up on my own. Ten years later I had a decent business and a roster of clients from end users and main contractors. At this point I had a realisation that yes, I had plenty of work coming in and a lot of happy clients, but I didn’t have time to enjoy my life outside of work with my fantastic wife and two wonderful sons. At a crossroads again, I found myself investigating what options were available to me.
I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to act as Roofing Director of a newly formed division in a successful company within the industry and with the support of some fantastic colleagues, in 2018 HS RoofClad was born.
TC: If you had one piece of advice about working and progressing in the roofing sector, what would it be?
KS: Ensure each project you work on is completed to a high standard, never leave a site until the job is completed to a standard that you would expect if you were the paying client. To progress in the roofing sector, my advice would be to take every available opportunity to better yourself through training, I believe that hard work and persistence really does pay off.
TC: Tell us about a current project you’re working on…
KS: HS RoofClad have just started work on a development project overlooking the water in Trafford, Manchester. Our specialist roofing team are providing a full roofing package with a flat single ply Sika Sarnafil roof – this is a really exciting time for the team as this will be their first installation since becoming registered contractors with Sika Sarnafil earlier this year.
TC: You must have worked on some difficult projects over the years. Does one in particular stand out?
KS: Yes, we have worked on several challenging projects in the past. Commonly issues arise when certain elements have been overlooked at design phases – this can often be relative to incorrect cladding being specified for the required build up.
A project that stands out is The Mitre, a state-of-the-art flagship wellbeing centre located on a tight 3-way junction in the centre of Burnley. The project was logistically challenging to undertake, due to four adverse situations that required addressing suitably:
- The steep slope of the site
- The size of vertically laid panels
- The proximity to three ‘live’ roads and busy junctions
- The window pods needed to align to AWP shadow lines, leaving minimal tolerance.
Taking all of this into consideration, we ensured that there was minimal disruption to ‘live’ roads, which remained open and undisturbed whilst vertical panels were vacuum lifted above the roof areas and into place, assisted by a mechanical work platform.
TC: What about difficult customers? Any situations that stand out that you can tell us about?!
KS: I can honestly say that we are lucky enough to have not had any difficult customers. Although client expectations may occasionally need to be realigned with what is achievable, I always find that transparency and good lines of communication are essential to maintaining a positive contractor/client relationship.
TC: What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
KS: That the industry has not evolved as quickly as others with regards to training. It is a common occurrence that subcontractors will supply poorly skilled personnel, claiming to be experienced in roofing and cladding. It is now time for an industry change, and I have hopes that training bodies will take ownership of the skills gap in the future to mitigate these issues.
TC: And the most satisfying?
KS: I’d have to say that the most satisfying and rewarding part about my job is securing works for new projects, no matter how big or small it excites me to see all of our hard work pay off. Equally, the successful delivery of a project, along with seeing our client satisfied with the works completed, is always rewarding in itself.
TC: What’s your most important tool as a roofing contractor, either in the office or on site?
KS: Good communication skills are pivotal when working as a contractor, both in the office and on site. It is imperative that information is relayed correctly to ensure the highest quality result for end users.
TC: What is the biggest issue currently affecting you as a contractor?
KS: I feel that many of my fellow contractors will agree, the biggest issue we are currently facing in the industry is late payments from larger main contractors following the completion of projects. Wider supply chains are majorly affected by these late payments, despite the fact that legislation has been in place to ‘stamp out’ such behaviours for 20 years now. It is time to evolve from the standard 90-day payment terms!
TC: How has the start of 2019 been and are there reasons to be positive for the remainder of the year?
KS: Following the launch of our new brand and website at the end of 2018, this year has been our most successful to date, with an anticipated year on year growth which is only increasing. Having recently secured a £4.5 million contract for a cladding replacement project in the centre of London, I’m positive for the remainder of 2019.