Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Difficult times in constructuion, but SURGO powers through: James Walker speaks to bdaily

The construction industry is often billed as one the biggest victims of the recession, but despite this, James Walker of SURGO has never lost sight of his vision for the company.

As one of the region’s longest established building contractors, James is determined to uphold SURGO’s reputation despite the current economic difficulties.

“We’ve had some tough decisions to make, but they’ve been the right ones. While the size of projects has decreased, we are still picking up work and there are still lots of tender opportunities to be had.

“Equally we have a good relationship with many of our past clients, who recognise the pride we take in every project, no matter what its value.”

Traditionally the construction industry is renowned for employing apprentices, but when questioned on the subject, James is disappointed: “We used to have 17 but, like many construction firms, we have had to scale back. We would prefer to have more, but the costs are too prohibitive, and there are few grants to make it less of a burden on the employer,” he said.

“However, we are still trying to recruit people in different ways, such as through the Cyrenians, who help unemployed individuals back into the workplace.”

Despite the difficulties facing the industry, James remains positive and is clearly passionate about his work. He takes a hands-on approach to the business, a factor which he believes contributes to SURGO’s good reputation.

“I’ve just spent the past six weeks overseeing a project at Durham University, so I’ve been on site every day. It was a challenging job, but the client got what they wanted in the end, and it gave them great confidence to know I was directly involved in the project.”

SURGO have recently completed the £4 million restoration project on the Theatre Royal Newcastle, a project James seems particularly proud of.

“It was an unusual job, as it required us to restore the original interior alongside fitting new technologies including solar panels and dimmable lights.

“We’ve been lucky enough to be involved as part of a team with real drive for the success of the project which will ultimately benefit the whole of the Newcastle area.”

In the wake of high profile jobs like this, James is keen to continue in the same vein.

“We want to keep picking up work, keep delivering and keep picking up repeat business by giving our clients what they are expecting by the time they want it,” he said.

“It’s hard work but good fun too. We’ve got lots of passionate people working for SURGO who are all important to the whole process. From the bricklayer to the architect, everyone on site is determined to get the job on time and on budget.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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