Celebrating Lochlie’s 10th birthday!
It has been a busy and successful 10 years for founders and Directors David & Douglas Aitken. Here we catch up with them and get their thoughts on the business and this particular milestone.
Tell us how Lochlie came to be set up?
Douglas: I had been working abroad for over 7 years and was ready to come home. I always wanted to set up my own business, and when David was made redundant, it was the perfect opportunity to realise this ambition. Our combined experience and contacts gave us a strong foundation to build on (see what I did there!), and we’ve never looked back.
David: Douglas was the driving force in starting up Lochlie. I had been made redundant unexpectedly, and when I called him to tell him, he said “That’s great news!”. Here I was feeling like it was a terrible blow but all Douglas could see was the opportunity.
What do you think sets Lochlie apart from other construction companies?
Douglas: I think our blend of family-owned values, and our forward-thinking approach differentiate us from many of our competitors. Being able to deliver our projects with an in-house team of staff, which has now reached 70 highly skilled and talented individuals, is a valuable USP for us, and allows us to react to market conditions with agility. We have also diversified into new markets in recent years, including our steel buildings and renewables offerings, which cover solar PV, battery storage, air source heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points. This adaptability and willingness to embrace new technologies sets us apart in a traditionally conservative industry.
David: We continue to deliver a customer-focussed service, with the depth of experience and knowledge within the team second to none. Having all of our trades in-house allows us to manage our portfolio of works while avoiding reliance of sub-contractors. Our comprehensive training and development programme is also a key feature in our endeavours to differentiate ourselves from competitors, and retain the best talent.
What are you most proud of in the last 10 years?
Douglas: I’m particularly proud of our team’s resilience and adaptability, which was especially tested during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, austerity, Brexit, various conflicts and associated impact on supply chains to name but a few. Throughout all of this we have not only sustained our operations but also continued to grow, with a current headcount of 70 from just myself and David in 2014. I am also a huge believer in education and continuous improvement, and to have seen the journey of growth and achievements of our people is something I take great pride in.
David: A huge milestone was investing in the purchase and development of our own office in 2022, after a long time searching! The continued development of the business to now have all the functions we had planned established and thriving; HR, HSEQ, Business Development, Finance and Estimating. The addition of Tom and Dave to the Board, who both bring fantastic attributes to the business was also an important milestone, as the “old guard” (me!) starts to think about moving on to make way for the “rising stars”.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Douglas: There will always be minor things that we could change, but I like to think of them as little lessons rather than mistakes. I’m a big believer in continuous improvement – there are always things we can learn and take forward as the business grows. Although in hindsight, I wish I had bought 20 containers full of hand sanitiser and face masks in Jan 2020!
David: I feel content that we have always made our best efforts and taken learnings from anything that hasn’t gone according to plan in the last 10 years. To some extent, we will always be at the mercy of our market and client needs, so the best approach is to ensure we have the ability and agility to respond to these needs as we continue to grow.
What does the future look like for Lochlie?
Douglas: The future continues to look bright and promising for us, with a growing reputation as “Contractor of Choice” and a loyal client base, as well as our diversification into new markets. Internally we are embracing digital transformation and innovative construction technologies and believe this will be will be key to our strategy, along with continuing to deliver for our client base.
David: The future remains bright; we are on track to achieve our 5-year turnover targets despite a host of worldwide issues affecting our clients and supply chain partners. We understand that challenges will continue to come along, and our strategic focus is ensuring we are in a robust position to meet these as they present themselves.
How do you plan to mark this milestone, both as a business and personally?
Douglas: This anniversary is not just a celebration of what we’ve achieved but also a launching pad for our ambitious plans for the future. It’s a moment to appreciate our team’s hard work and dedication and to look forward with excitement to what the next decade holds. On the business front, we are hosting celebration events with our staff, clients, and partners to acknowledge their contributions to our success.
Personally, my wife Claire and daughters Sophia and Olivia have arranged a Lochlie birthday party in the house and a treat to one of my favourite restaurants.
David: Personally, with a sigh of relief it has been the fastest 10 years that I can remember! A wee toast to the ‘Bard’ who inspired the ‘Lochlie’ name is in order. Burns’ story embodies the ethos of ‘endeavour’ & success against adversity; an approach and attitude that has also been the source of our success. I am also looking forward to reducing my hours and performing a more strategic role for the business.