Gleeds: 130 years on
Gleeds is celebrating its 130 year anniversary, having weathered a few boom and bust cycles. As the economy recovers from recession, Gleeds Director Anthony Cork reflects on how the company has got where it is today and considers what the future has in store for the East Midlands.
“One of the questions we often find ourselves answering at Gleeds is: what makes us different? And as we celebrate 130 years in business, it seems more pertinent than ever”, reflects Gleeds Director, Anthony Cork.
The consultancy was founded in 1885 by Richard Gleed, who was an architect by profession and realised a gap in the market for a company set up solely to provide quantity surveying services.
Since then, Gleeds has grown from a family run business to an international provider of consultancy services, with 1500 staff working in 55 offices across 18 countries.
“The thing we believe sets us apart, and has helped create a sustainable business, is our independence.
“In an environment where large conglomerates are growing rapidly through acquisition of smaller companies, our independence and impartiality stands out.
“This continuity has also kept our senior management team accessible and client facing – it’s often when things aren’t going right, but are quickly and effectively resolved, that builds the best relationships”, says Cork.
As the UK’s political parties ramp-up their general election campaigns, the Midlands is being heralded as a centre for growth through investment in infrastructure, jobs creation and apprenticeships.
“Though nothing is set in stone until the ballots are in and the dust from the general election settles, the Midlands is undoubtedly on the map, which makes it an exciting place to be – especially for start-ups and SMEs. Areas such as Nottingham’s Creative Quarter present a fantastic opportunity for new businesses to get established and in attracting inward investment.”
Based in the East Midlands since 1932, Gleeds passionately supports the socioeconomic development of the region. The consultancy is an active supporter of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Nottingham Means Business - a business-led organisation set up to promote collaboration and strengthen the regional economy.
Nottingham is a hotbed of business forums and networks. The combined effort of public and private sectors to drive investment into the city – whether through business, education or tourism – creates a unique energy.
“It is this collaboration and will to succeed that needs to be harnessed after events such as the Nottingham Business Expo and the international property event MIPIM, to drive activity forward. As with all things, the challenge is maintaining momentum.”
As a founding member of ‘Team Nottingham’, Gleeds plays an active role in putting the city on the global stage. Each year it attends the international property event, MIPIM, with city councillors, city leaders and private sector organisations to showcase the region’s investment and development potential. This year is the largest delegation yet with over 20 local business in attendance, flying the flag for Nottinghamshire.
Also key to East Midlands growth is investment and retention of skills. It’s one point the politicians are all agreed on and has been a topic of great discussion within the East Midlands recently. A report by the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce indicated that businesses were increasingly facing difficulties in recruiting staff with the required skill set.
In order to adapt to change, Gleeds is always on the lookout for new faces and fresh ideas. The recession had a huge impact on the construction industry. Many companies lost staff and little in the way of recruitment took place. In particular there has been a shortage of skilled graduates, who typically would have graduated between 2009 and 2013 - symptomatic of the lack of work experience and graduate programmes available during the period.
One of the ways Gleeds is responding is through the recruitment of school leavers, supporting them through day release university courses to gain both experience and training. It’s also drawing on established relationships with universities, like Nottingham Trent, to help boost the number of graduate work experience opportunities available.
Mr Cork concludes: “If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years, it’s that our people are our greatest asset. Our success is ultimately down to them, and we find that empowering people to grow with the business often produces the best results.”