Interviews

General election 2015: Pro Steel Engineering director Richard Selby – I'm voting as...

6 min read

05 May 2015

Former editor

As the leader of a business based in Wales, Richard Selby would like to see more "joined-up thinking" between the Welsh and UK governments. He shares his other thoughts with us ahead of the general election later this week.

Our “I’m voting as…” series of features has covered a wide range of industries, and now enters the construction trade.

Who are you and what does your business do?

I’m Richard Selby, director at Pro Steel Engineering, and we provide professional steel construction and project management services for the construction sector. We also work with the rail industry on bridges and other complex structures. Our services range from welding, blasting, erecting, lifting, planning and design through to recruitment and full project management. 

We’re also ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 accredited for our quality of work, environmental management and commitment to health and safety

How has your business changed over the last five years?

Established in 2012, we have grown incredibly fast, beyond any expectations we had when we started the company. At the outset we were determined to ensure that our growth remained sustainable, and as such, have only taken on projects that we could feasibly deliver, to a standard we were happy with.

This has resulted in us working on some amazing national projects including the strengthening of the Hammersmith Flyover and the Queen Elizabeth Park Transformation Project, converting the Olympic Park to fit its new purpose.

This project was particularly beneficial as we completed the initial contract to such a high standard that we were awarded further contracts on the same project.

What are your growth plans for the next five years?

We want to continue to grow sustainably and be further recognised as a firm that consistently performs well on projects, continues to receive strong referrals and is seen as a good and fair employer.

Further expansion of our services across multiple sectors is key for growth and extending our fabrication service. We currently have a small offering, but would like to be able to offer a full fabrication service ourselves which would minimise our reliance on external suppliers.

What kind of government would you like to see elected?

I’d like to see a government that will continue to stimulate the construction industry within the UK. They need to maintain the pipeline of work that has been generated and ensure that it is implemented.

I want a government that encourages apprenticeships as a strong alternative to university study, not simply as a way to meet targets on youth unemployment. Apprenticeships need to be of value to the sector and the economy, filled by young people who genuinely want to work in construction, not those who don’t have a career path in mind and may drop out after a year.

I also want to see joined-up thinking between the Welsh and UK governments, so the power dovetails between both. We cannot risk both parties coming to loggerheads about important decisions, like we saw with the debate around electrification.

Read other “I’m voting as…” features:

Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?

No, as they’re not really offering any commitment. They have promised all of these construction projects but as of yet, we’ve only seen a few actually delivered.

For Pro Steel Engineering, we tend to use sub-contractors to employ our staff on projects. While we do our best to use the same people for most of our projects, we’d love to be able to employ more staff on a permanent basis.

Without a strong commitment from the government, we can’t predict how much income we will generate for extended periods, which prevents us from making longer-term recruitment and investment decisions. I know a lot of companies in the industry feel the same way, which results in the slowing down of growth in the sector.

Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?

It’s much of the same in terms of delays in planning. This has delayed some decisions within our company due to the uncertainty surrounding the sector, which stifles growth plans in the short term.

We are particularly concerned with this election, as if there is a hung parliament, as predicted, then it could result in further delays of the infrastructure roll out.

In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”

I’m voting as a business leader hoping to see real growth in our sector nationwide, as well as real investment in Wales and the North.

Read more from our general election coverage:

Do you agree with Richard Selby? Is there anything you’d like to add? Please let us know in the comments box below.