What’s the best bit of your job?
“Working with the diverse and dedicated staff that make Structural Soils the company it is.”
How did you come to be at Structural Soils 30 years ago?
“After graduating from university, I went off climbing in the Alps over the summer. When I returned to my parents’ home in Lancashire, UK, it only took them two days to start hassling me about getting a job. As my Dad was a civil engineer working for Lancashire County Council, he had the New Civil Engineer magazine to hand, so thrust the jobs page under my nose with adverts from Structural Soils and RMC, who were both looking for graduate geologists/engineers. I applied and got interviews for both positions.
“The interview with Structural Soils came first so I made the four-hour trip by train to Bristol on the Monday, had a very brief interview with Alec Handcock (former managing director of Structural Soils), got offered the job and accepted, all before the RMC interview. How different it could have been!”
What was the greatest part of your job as a site engineering geologist?
“Visiting the many, varied and often unique sites around the country and being given the responsibility for managing all aspects of the projects I was involved with.”
Do you have a memorable site?
“Possibly drilling boreholes in Buckingham Palace’s kitchen, spending a little time in Wandsworth Prison, or perhaps working from a barge off Padstow lifeboat station. So many fantastic jobs.’’
What has been your greatest achievement while at Structural Soils?
“Planning, tendering, winning and directing the Mersey Gateway marine ground investigation. The many varied constraints and logistical challenges this site faced made it by far the toughest project the company has undertaken to date. Our ability to plan and develop methodologies as new unforeseen constraints arose was a testament to the work put in at an early stage and the ability and fortitude of the project team. To come out on time, on budget and to make a profit was a fantastic result.”
What are your proudest moments while at Structural Soils?
“Being in a position to grow the company and offer employment to a large group of fantastic individuals and providing an environment and opportunities for colleagues to reach their potential and achieve great things. A great example is our southern drilling manager, Nick Reichelt, who received the Ground Engineering Award for Health and Safety for his innovative drillpipe handling tool, which has reduced hand injuries across the business and is being adopted industry wide.”
How different was Structural Soils in 1988?
“The company had only 20 people when I started, and we were crammed into half of the Old Tram Shed building (Now Zero Degrees) in Bristol city centre. We now have more than 260 staff working from 7 locations nationwide, with more than 25 drilling rigs and 4 accredited laboratories, which is pretty staggering!”
Alec Handcock says, “Congratulations to Mac on achieving 30 years with the company, from humble beginnings to great things, both for the company and Mac himself. As a former managing director, I think there’s always going to be some trepidation when the time comes to hand over the reins, but I can honestly say that Mac’s done a great job and that under his leadership the company has moved on to achieve things that I could have only dreamed about.
“I’m not surprised that he remembers working at Buckingham Palace, as I recall that he was nearly shot by a sniper! Having been warned to only go on the roof wearing a high-visibility vest as there were snipers protecting the royals, Mac quickly realised that he was there without any hi-vis, so immediately hit the deck and started to crawl to the exit, which is possibly the worst thing he could have done. Thankfully, he survived.”
“Congratulations on 30 years at Structural Soils, Mac,” adds divisional director Claire Knighton. “That’s such a fabulous achievement. Having worked with Mac for more than 10 enjoyable years, I’ve found his determination and desire to do the very best for Soils always at the front of his mind.
“He’s built up a fabulous business and does it with a smile on his face while looking after everyone that works with him. He’s been there when times have been hard, working hard supporting people, and also shares the good times that he totally deserves. Here’s to many years ahead!”