THE new managing director of ground engineering and equipment specialist Groundforce UK has told Project Plant he has “absolute optimism” about the future of the sector.
Dan Coen was appointed to his new role earlier this year, moving from Tarmac where he was regional director for the north and Scotland of the group’s ready mix concrete business.
Dan said his early impressions of the company, which offers a wide range of equipment including shoring and piling kit, pipe stoppers, temporary bridges, and a training division have been really positive. He’s already set his sights on making the most of opportunities in the Scottish market.
Referring to what attracted him to the role, Dan said, “My background in materials has given me a familiarity with the customer base and the wider construction sector in general; just at differing phases of the build cycle.
“I’m a little bit closer to the action with Groundforce and although it’s early days, it’s obvious that I’ve joined a business with quality people who really know their customers, know their markets and know their kit.”
Dan revealed he isn’t planning on making wholesale changes to the business. Instead, he’s looking at “a few tweaks around some processes” and giving people the opportunity to do what they do well. “I believe I bring leadership and structure to the role and I’m excited about getting the most out of a talented group of people,” he added. “The people here are clearly very professional. I think they’re enormously proud of the reputation they’ve built – quite rightly. That’s what’s impressed me – they’re absolutely dedicated to what they do, which is making excavation and temporary groundworks as safe and as efficient as possible.”
Dan said he was aware of Groundforce prior to joining the firm, having seen their equipment on sites around the country. “I was definitely familiar with the yellow kit,” he explained. “I probably didn’t appreciate how intricate and specialised the application was but the reputation and credibility of Groundforce was an obvious attraction.”
Given that Dan’s previous role at Tarmac covered Scotland and the north of England, the construction market north of the border is one he knows well – and one in which he sees great opportunity.
“From a materials supply perspective, the Scottish market was always tough,” he said. “There were some big projects but the core business was consistently competitive.
“As I get more familiar with the local teams, there seems to be a gathering momentum around opportunity and spend. There’s a lot of positivity about the Scottish market, certainly from a Vp perspective.”
Dan added, “The short-to-medium term outlook is optimistic and I feel Groundforce has the people and the expertise to make the most of it.”
In terms of what he sees as the biggest challenges, Dan pointed to some of the political uncertainty at the moment. “There’s always an element of unpredictability about projects and investment in the construction industry,” he said. “We’ve got a snap election coming up so I’m sure there will be a few months of debate and conjecture to come.
“In terms of my business, there is absolute focus. There are external factors that pose a risk but I’ll be doing everything possible to mitigate those potential obstacles and increase our growth. Scotland represents a big part of this focus.”