The experience was there, the ambition was there and the financial and management support was in place. All Colin Glen needed to make the big leap from employee to director of his own company was a final push. And it came from his wife.
After a 20+-year career in traffic management working for some of the biggest names in the industry, he was poised to launch a new company and as he recalls: “I had faith in my own ability and was 99.9% sure I could do it. But there was that wee fear of the unknown. In the end my wife Debbie was the deciding factor; she told me ‘just go for it’.”
He did, and several months later, thousands of vehicles in Scotland and England are being shown where to go by Glen and his team at Touchstone Traffic Solutions as they win more contracts for events, construction, civil engineering and utilities projects.
In recent weeks, the Bo’ness company has landed a number of high-profile jobs, none higher than that awarded by AA Events to manage traffic for next month’s Open Championship at Carnoustie. Elsewhere, there’s a six-week contract in Liverpool and further south, on civil engineering works in Northampton and Peterborough. All of which have confirmed that the traffic management sector was ready for a new entrant.
The contracts were earned after a period of intense preparation setting up compliance and quality systems, recruitment, and spending heavily on vehicles and stock (£50,000 on cones, signs and barriers alone). But it very nearly never happened.
In the beginning three people were working on the formation of the new company: Colin, Jason Easton, and a mutual acquaintance who later withdrew. Colin, who was senior contracts manager with a similar company, had already handed in his notice. “Jason and I had a conversation, agreed that all the groundwork had been done and decided to keep going. We just said ‘let’s make it work’.”
Easton is managing director of Rockbreakers UK which is involved in attachments hire and sales, and is a dealer for Volvo compact equipment and Steelwrist tiltrotators. In this latest venture, however, he’s very much in the background. “My involvement is purely financial and management support. Colin handles all the day-to-day running of the business. He’s the expert.”
That expertise has been developed during more than two decades in traffic management, the last 10 years in senior management positions with companies such as Highway Barrier Solutions and Alba Traffic Management.
“Setting up my own traffic management business was always something I’d thought about,” said Colin. “I was close a few years ago then things got very busy at the company I was working for so it got at pushed aside. This time round, everything just felt right. There was never a worry that the work would be there, I had plenty of contacts and was confident in my management abilities.”
However, before the first cone could hit the tarmac, compliance with the standards of organisations such as the British Standards Institution, Lantra and SSIP had to be satisfied. Only once those had been achieved could Touchstone begin to buckle down to the task of tendering for contracts.
The company is offering traffic management operations ranging from abnormal load escorting service to temporary road restraint systems, from planning and consultancy to road closures and diversion routes. A yard adjacent to the Rockbreakers headquarters in Bo’ness has been acquired and that will give the required storage and workshop space the fast-expanding Touchstone business needs.
While it’s still early days, Glen is convinced he (and his wife) made the right decision. “We’ve got a steady supply of work and are already on course to hit our first year targets. We hope to double turnover in our second year when we plan to get the workforce up to around 20.”
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Article posted 11/6/2018