Friday, October 1st, 2021
Rich McNeil has gone from factory worker to Contracts Manager on large commercial glazing projects in his 16 years at EYG. Here he discusses his time with the business, its history, and the outlook for the future.
Rich, you are now a Commercial Contracts Manager at EYG. How has your career evolved at the company?
I’ve experienced working at all levels of the business from the factory floor to fitting windows and now managing projects, and I think taking that route has really helped me in the job I have now.
I started 16 years ago, when I was 18, on the factory floor. I was a mechanic previously but I also played rugby on a Saturday for Norland Sharks and my job was stopping me from playing on a weekend. The factory job at p0-hy=-gtEYG was offered to me and I was delighted to take it. At the time it was a way of ensuring I could keep playing rugby, but it proved a good career move for me.
After six or seven years working on curtain walling, doors and cutting and CNC machines, I wanted to do more and I started doing the odd commercial fitting job.
An opportunity came when a there were changes and some fitters moved on and I was given the job. I loved it as there were some big jobs and it involved travelling around to places like London and even the Shetland Islands on a hotel project.
A few years later I got a call from one of my managers and I hoped it was him ringing me to tell me they’d got me a new van. It wasn’t. It was to discuss becoming a project manager and it is a job I was delighted to be offered and really enjoy.
What does the role of Contracts Manager entail?
It’s varied in terms of the type of project and the daily demands and pressures involved. The only thing that never changes is the need to ensure the client is properly looked after and feels supported. I can manage anything from a providing the products for a one-man band doing an installation of bi-folding doors to a major glazing installation on hotels, schools or residential developments at a value into the many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
We do a lot of work on new student accommodation developments, schools and residential complexes and have become trusted by a number of local, regional and national contractors who have used us on a number of occasions.
My job is to oversee everything that happens on the project. We have site managers and daily site meetings, but my name is on the paperwork for the client so it’s imperative I know every aspect of the job from the start, during, and then after completion in terms of post installation support and warrantees.
On a major glazing contract, at what point do you become involved?
Personally I like to be involved as soon as possible, so once the order has come in from the sales team and the project is going through the initial planning. This can involve shadowing our design team if they are involved, carrying out site visits, organising the labour we will need and any plant hire and ensuring all health and safety plans and measures are in place. There’s a lot of planning to do around schedules and it can be a complicated process. It’s also key to be in regular contact with the client to ensure they are kept fully informed of what is happening and the schedule ahead.
What are the key elements of the job throughout an installation?
For me the priority is always ensuring we have the products and people on site to be able to get on with what we need to do. We’re sometimes affected by the other trades professionals on site. Should builders fall behind, for example, then we can’t get on with the glazing aspect of a job, which of course is a major milestone on any development as that is when a building becomes watertight and paves the way for interior work to start.
It’s vital to stay close to the other trades and understand where they are at and any issues which may impact them and ultimately us too. Key is always keeping the client in the loop. For some projects it includes daily meetings with clients, others can be weekly. It’s all a balancing act but for me, us being prepared, and having what we need on site, is the most important thing for us at all times.
Has it been more challenging over the past year with Covid-19?
There was of course an initial period in the first lockdown where things ground to a halt, but we’ve found safe ways of working and our Health and Safety manager has done an exceptional job with regards to all the measures and procedures we have to follow. Social distancing can be challenging obviously on construction sites but it is something we are all aware of and we follow the guidance.
With set working teams and increased testing it isn’t a major issue now.
The biggest problem across the construction sector has been the lack of available materials and the rise in costs over the past year. I mentioned previously about the need to have all materials on site each day. That has been harder than ever over the past year. The entire industry has found that.
Which EYG Commercial jobs stand out in your memory that you have been involved in?
There have been plenty that I’ve been proud to be involved in as it’s great to see the finished product having been involved right at the initial planning stage.
We do a lot of work for Hobson & Porter and we completed a window replacement project for them which truly transformed Driffield School and Sixth Form. It was a pleasing job as we carried out the installations during term time at the school, so it needed a lot of planning to allow the school to move students and classes around whist we installed the new windows.
A recent job on The Pastures for Ward Homes, for which we manufactured and installed all UPVC windows, aluminium bi-folding doors, composite doors and even curtain walling screens, was enjoyable as it was a really high-standard, bespoke residential development. It is pleasing when you are chosen on a project which is looking for the best quality products.
Probably the stand-out job for me though was the Far Gosford Street development in Coventry, which was a new mixed development of retail space, restaurants and 300 modern and spacious student flats in the heart of the city. It’s quite an iconic new development in the city and it’s something that you look at feel proud to have been part of.
Where do you feel EYG sits presently in the glazing market and what is the outlook for the next 12 months?
We’re all really positive here as we have a strong order book and we are a trusted glazing manufacturer and installer for many large contractors. There’s not many in the industry with a reputation like ours and also 50 years’ experience. I think the quality of our products continues to set us apart, as does our commitment to client care on commercial projects too. I work closely with all teams across the business and particularly with my fellow Contracts Manager Neil Coxon, and we certainly benefit from having experienced fitting teams working for us. They are a great set of people who are importantly passionate about doing the best possible job for clients every time. We can trust them to do things right. All those things keep customers coming back to us.
Finally, how do you relax away from work?
Well I can’t play rugby any more, but I am a big Hull FC fan and I like all sports really. I have a five-year-old daughter who is at a great age as she and keeps me and my wife really busy. Like most people time off work is about enjoying being with the family and relaxing.