Updated: Aug 16, 2019
As you know, I’m passionate about the construction industry and about bringing new ideas, new technologies and new ways of working to our industry. I fight against old, complacent attitudes and get massively frustrated when I see others stuck in a time warp, happy to muddle along, comfortable in their own old zone.
The lesson I’ve learnt over the years running Lucas is that it takes nerves and commitment for an owner of your own business to be disruptive – masses of self-belief. Because you have to brave the criticism that is thrown at you time and again, and you worry for the health of your company.
But in my experience it’s always worth it in the end.
In the 1990s we made a big push to introduce water-based paints, before environmental concerns had become widespread. Clients were very unsure. Would the paint be as hard-wearing? Would it be too costly? Would we need several coats and re-paint more often. I was told we were mad to move from oil-based coatings.
But we persevered. Persuaded even the Ministry of Defence to abandon the old paints it had used for decades. And eventually as attitudes changed and environmental concerns came to the fore, we were seen as being ahead of the game.
We spent money on re-branding the business, building a website and promoting the work we were doing for our great clients. Once again, I was hit by criticism. We were being too cocky, bigging ourselves up people suggested. Getting above our station. Of course the very last thing I wanted to do was annoy any clients, but I felt we should be proud of the work we were doing, make ourselves better known, and take our rightful place in the supply chain. Why shouldn’t we go in for industry awards? They were there to be won and we wanted to be recognised.
Well, I feel we were justified and of course now everyone wants to be recognised in a crowded marketplace.
Then more recently we have invested (or “I’m spending too much money” as some said) in new technologies, partnering with the McLaren F1 team, developing our own apps which have transformed the way we run our business.
I knew this was the right way to go if we were to drive change. But it takes money and nerve, and sadly a period of time to overcome scepticism from older industry hands. But I feel our performance and where we are with our blue chip clients has justified all our efforts.
And now I’m at it again. I’ve long felt that we in construction must communicate to a wider audience. Reach out to younger people, to women, to attract new people into our industry. Goodness, we all know we have a major recruitment crisis to overcome.
So I’ve launched the Lucas Show on our YouTube channel, news and magazine items aimed at a broad industry and business audience, making maximum use of new media and social media channels. As ever, I’ve invested time and money on a new studio to deliver a highly professional product. Again, a number of people said I’m wasting time and money, but I’m also pleased to say even at this early stage, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback for the new show.
Being a disruptor really tests you personally. As the initial criticism hits you, many times I’ve asked myself am I doing the right thing? Will I damage the business?
All I can say is if you are committed to change, if you’re sure the old way of doing things is well past its sell-by-date, and if you are sure you can do things not just differently but much better, back yourself. Do it properly, invest and don’t cut corners, ignore the nay-sayers, stay firm to your beliefs. Disruption can be a force for good, a force for change.