In May 1977 E G Carter & Co Ltd employed local Site Foreman John Christie, 41 years and 3 recessions later, John is still with the company after delivering over 600 new homes and travelling in excess of 600,000 miles for the Company.
This is his journey.
John started with E G Carter & Co Ltd on the 24th May 1977, after previously completing 7 years within the construction industry. When John joined there were around 24 employees, this included office and site-based staff. The office was located in Severn Road, Gloucester with the Managing Director being Brian Carter. The majority of the workload was within Gloucestershire itself and the turnover of the company as a whole a little more than 1 million pounds per annum.
Johns first construction site was to construct and deliver 24 new homes in Hempsted, Gloucester. He explained that sites were a lot different to what they are now:
“Back in the 70’s, as a Site Manager a part of our duties involved the setting out of the property footprints and the associated roads. This was done with theodolites, levels, tape measure, profile pegs, nails and string, all very time consuming. Unlike today with modern instruments, the setting out is almost instantaneous. This responsibility has now passed to our groundworks contractors.”
“Site accommodation and welfare facilities were rather spartan to say the least. Site cabins were transferred from site to site, each time becoming the worst for wear and for ever leaking. Heating, lighting and wc facilities were always a problem to install. Whilst these days, self-contained units are delivered to site fully kitted out.”
“Whilst Health and Safety is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind, take yourself back 40 years this wasn’t always the case. RAMS were a verbal concept and a general discussion with each contractor. Everything today has since evolved and needs to be fully documented.”
In the 70’s and 80’s, today’s Company Director’s Michael and David Carter, were mentored by John on-site and gained first-hand experience with site set up and how sites were run. John offered Michael and David advice about all things construction and guided them through the 103 unit housing scheme based in Kingswood, Bristol.
Michael Carter, Managing Director said “I remember distinctly John’s energy and enthusiasm, quite often he would ask me to be at his house at 4.30am or 5 am so that we could be onsite for 6am and be well ahead of the game before the various sub-contractors arrived onsite. To me this was an invaluable lesson in terms of remaining in control. The most remarkable thing about John is he retains that same energy and enthusiasm to this day as he demonstrated when he joined our Company 41 years ago.”
John also went on to say how he remembers the more difficult times:
“During the 80s recession and beyond, difficult decisions had to be made. but with due diligence and excellent management, along with the loyalty of staff, E G Carter & Co Ltd survived.”
“However better times were on the horizon as the company began to grow and by the turn of the millennium, the company saw a niche and opportunity to enter the “social housing market” on a larger scale.”
“Following interviews with Fosseway the E G Carter & Co Ltd team of John Williams, John Mayo and myself were chosen as the “contractor of choice”, with our first site being at Chipping Campden.”
“Under the leadership of John Williams and Peter Burrows the past 16 years or so this framework has significantly expanded as we now engage and work with a multitude of Housing Associations throughout a larger part of southern England.”
In 2001 as well as having to learn about new IT technology, John completed his first timber framed housing project. This was a significant change from the usual masonry type construction that E G Carter & Co Ltd had been accustomed. The construction up and to that time had been brick and cavity construction. This now being replaced with the delivery of prefabricated timber panels that were craned into position.
“It was a learning curve when timber frame became a part of E G Carter & Co Ltd. The new logistics of employing cranes to lift panels into position and to place roof trusses was paramount to reducing programme time. This was a far cry from the times when trusses were offloaded with a forklift and then manually” lifted” into place. Now that cranes are used it’s a much easier and by far safe operation”
After 41 years John has been able to reflect on his career and the advice that he would give apprentices or anyone joining the construction industry.
“You need to understand the logistics of what you are dealing with, understand the drawings, the site set up and the clients expectations.”
“100% input is required at all times, you cannot just give 95%. You have to be very openminded and understanding of your contractor’s site experience, expertise and limitations in order to get the best out of everyone in your team. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to handing over a safe and quality product”
Through John’s time with E G Carter & Co Ltd he has gone through many good times, gone through 3 recessions, seen the internet go global and many more historic moments, but throughout his career John is most grateful for his family and the commitment from his employer.
“It has always been a pleasure working with E G Carter, they say the grass is always greener on the other side but when you have an employer that treats you with respect and knows your worth I know this is not the case.”
“I don’t think you could go anywhere else and find such an open-door policy with the present Managing Director as well as his contemporaries, Brian, Richard, James and Dick, of whom I have fond memories.”
“Michael has a resolute passion for this industry which he passes on to his employees and the next generation of Carters. I have been able to learn so much within this career and am still learning even now, I would like to thank E G Carter & Co Ltd for their loyalty to myself and their investment in me. I honestly don’t think there is a better employer out there.”
When asked if John would do it again his answer was 100%.
Within the next year John will be looking to retire and spend his well-deserved spare time with his family.
41 years ago, E G Carter & Co Ltd had 24 employees turning over £1 million, it now has over 183 employees with a turnover of £70 million. Bring on the next 41 years.