This month Simon Banks talks to Matthew Williams, owner of Ocean Fire & Security. An NSI and BAFE Approved Installer based in the South West, Ocean have a large client portfolio across the UK in both the commercial and residential sectors.
You originally joined the Fire & Security industry as an Apprentice. Can you remember what attracted you to our sector?
As with many of my peers, I somewhat fell into the industry! When I was considering my career options at school, I always had a keen interest in electronics and technology so considered becoming an electrician. I was going to proceed down that route via college, but during my final year of school a family friend suggested the Fire & Security industry. After working on Saturdays for a very small local company I eventually joined Guest Fire & Security. The owner, Clive, and his engineers taught me everything there is to know about how to correctly install and maintain systems and I also attended one of the original NVQ courses on a day release.
Do you feel your Apprenticeship gave you the preparation you needed to fulfil your potential in your later career?
The Apprenticeship gave me a good grounding in the industry. Technology was a little more basic back then and wireless products were not really on the market! Systems were always cabled so when we started a job it was important to discuss with the client the cable routes and any possible disruption this may cause. We carried out a vast amount of work on a variety of sites and different systems which gave me the experience, knowledge and confidence required to proceed with my career in the industry.
What are the biggest challenges in setting up your own Installation Company?
My previous employer couldn’t offer me a promotion, so I decided to set up by myself. I purchased a van and equipment out of my savings to hit the ground running. At first, while I was building up my client base I was sub-contracting to other companies to maintain cash flow and enable me to invest in advertising, a website and events. Later, we were in the position where I needed an extra engineer to cope with the workload and by chance someone I worked with as an Apprentice was looking for a new position. This was a role reversal from the years I spent as his Apprentice to now being his boss. He is a great asset to the team and we all work well together. Since then we have added several engineers to our team.
Now you’re an established Installer in your area, what’s the next challenge?
My aim is to continue our steady business growth whilst adding more national accounts to our portfolio and maintaining the level of service our clients expect from us. In terms of our workforce, this year we have employed our first Apprentice and I can already see that the next crop of engineers are more technologically savvy than my generation! These Apprentices are enabling us to keep up with the latest developments in our industry. New technology is a part of the reason I enjoy working in our sector. You must embrace it, but at the same time it should be thoroughly tested before installation on site. IFSEC and other trade shows are great ways of discovering the new technologies available in the industry before they hit the market.
YOU SAID IT!
“Plug it in (CSL Router) and forget it, smart way for video surveillance, happy client”.
Bernard McTaggart – LinkedIn Post – 10th April