15 Years of Worksmart: An Interview with Stephen Neilson

Tuesday the 23rd of May 2017 is a very important day at Worksmart – we have launched our new website at www.makeitworksmart.co.uk and we will be celebrating our 15 year anniversary. Our digital marketing apprentice, Kieran Johnstone, sat down with Managing Director Stephen Neilson to discuss both these milestones.

KJ: Hi Steve, what do you feel the biggest change in the interiors sector has been since Worksmart was started?

SN: There has been a significant increase in safety legislation, with many more tests and qualifications required to be able to step onto a site. This has resulted in a huge increase in the quality of our fit-outs and refurbishments. However, there has also been a noticeable gap created in the skills of construction workers, which has resulted in far less contractors being available to ourselves. Therefore, we cannot thank organisations like the FIS and the CITB enough for continuing to the future workforce.

KJ: How do you make sure you have the best workforce possible?

SN: We have always been committed to giving young people the best opportunities possible. That’s why we employ 6 apprentices on site, as well as yourself in the office. This allows us to continue to improve the future generation of workers, as well as continuing to improve the interiors sector. In addition to this, we are hugely passionate about employ school leavers and graduates, and work with colleges and universities to give their students work experience.

KJ: There’s one question I always get asked – what’s the difference between a fit-out and refurbishment?

SN: A refurbishment is where a small to medium amount of work will be carried out, in a space that already has most or all of the original fittings. These jobs usually only take a couple of months. A fit-out will require a brand new set of facilities to be completely stripped out or require a similarly large amount of work. This are usually much lengthier jobs of higher value.

KJ: What has been your best memory from any job?

SN: 2.45am on a Monday morning two years ago standing with Kerr Crawford and Craig McKay in the freshly finished state of the art Reception at GHAs Lipton House in Glasgow. Seven weeks and some £700k working seven days a week and shift working to hand over a fabulous project on time for a very important Client visit Monday at 8am, which went very well. We had facilitated a massive 24/7 live call centre refurbishment working hand in hand with a great Client and a Great Client Design Team at Creanor Consultant Architects. An increasingly proud moment with two great friends who had worked, along with the rest of the Worksmart team, with total determination and professionalism.

A moment which I will always remember!

KJ: What has been your favourite job you have worked on?

SN: Our recent fit-out of Scotland House. Not only was it a fantastic job that had a great team working on it, it will also have a long lasting impact. As we stated in our recent blog about Scotland House, this will mean that Scottish businesses will be able to expand into the thriving Lonodn business market far easier, and increase both their own business and Scotland’s economy.