Meet the MD: Colin Hotchkiss of Garic Ltd

Meet the MD: Colin Hotchkiss of Garic Ltd

Colin Hotchkiss of Garic Ltd tells BQ all about what makes a great leader and what its like at the helm of one of the UK's leading suppliers of plant and welfare facilities.

What does your role involve?

My role, as a recently appointed MD, is to accelerate the profitable growth of Garic and continue to gain economies of scale as we mature from the regional, niche player we were in 2013, to a multi-site, national provider of site welfare and accommodation equipment to the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors in 2017.

Drawing from past experience, it’s my job to help the company become operationally slicker, enhance customer experience, oversee decision-making on key investments and ensure we focus on doing this safely.

My biggest responsibility is developing our people, living and breathing our values and driving employee engagement.


What is it the company does?

The core of our business is manufacturing, hiring and selling site welfare, accommodation, modular and specialised plant products to any organisation involved within the construction industry supply chain.

Our products range from boot wash units and water storage tanks to temporary site offices and large, complex, bespoke modular buildings.

Our products are designed to help customers comply with and exceed CDM regulations, ensuring their workers have access to office, catering, sanitary and drying facilities.

Our products also extend to minimising contamination from construction sites, whether this be suppressing dust or cleaning the wheels and under-carriages of heavy equipment before they take to public roads.

Unlike other companies in our sector, the majority of our products are designed and manufactured in-house, including one-off bespoke designs.

From our HQ in Bury we not only build to rent, but can also manufacture to sell, and indeed export, our products overseas.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started my working life in IT, supporting the data network of what was then Scottish Amicable. I made the move in to IT management at the tender age of 25 and quickly became involved in implementing software applications to enhance the supply chain, retail and finance functions. That really sparked my thirst for understanding what makes a business tick.

After a stint in the Middle East I returned to the UK aged 30 and became a managing consultant for 5 years, leading major business change projects often enabled by the implementation of large software packages such as SAP.

Then, we had kids and my work life balance had to change. I joined the Finning Group (UK distributor of Caterpillar equipment) to lead their programme office and supply chain function before progressing to another management position running a number of business units in the Power Systems division. It was a fascinating time, I was selling major power generation projects to customers in the oil, gas and marine sectors all over the world.

Ten years later, I was ready for my next challenge and feel really lucky to have secured the role of MD at Garic which is owned by the Bibby Line Group. It’s the smallest business I’ve worked for but that’s what makes it so exciting and such a great opportunity for career progression. I have the chance to influence and shape a business with great people, products and potential.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe all leaders must have unshakeable resolve about the future and culture they are going to create together.

They must also have the ability to instil a culture of accountability. If all employees demonstrate 100% accountability for business results, then the organisation will perform at its optimum. I really believe high performance organisations achieve their strategic intent and exceed performance targets in spite of challenging circumstances and time constraints.

Leaders should also create and nurture new leaders. At Garic we’re doing this internally by creating a framework for coaching as it provides a perspective teams and individuals don’t have. The coach focuses on blind spots and any gaps between current performance and the level of performance the person and/or team is committed to achieving.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Working for a SME has presented me with a challenge that I haven’t faced before; limited resources. We don’t always have the levers to pull and budgets to draw upon that much larger organisations do. Working within those constraints can be challenging but it makes you innovative, you have to think outside box in order to make progress. I have to look for productivity improvements, eliminate unnecessary processes and tasks and get us to a scale where we can generate wider resources. All these things combine to keep me awake at night.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Running. It gives me great thinking time – and keeps the worst of the middle-age spread at bay!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to work for the air-force. I knew I couldn’t fly due to not having 20-20 vision, I just wanted to be around planes. Then I jumped out of one, broke my leg and fell out of love with them.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

I can’t abide gossiping, finger-pointing and any form of blame culture. They say you get what you tolerate, so, quite simply, I won’t tolerate this type of behaviour in any area of our business.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

We will be the industry leader – hiring and selling innovative welfare and accommodation products that support the wellbeing, safety and security of people, equipment, and OUR environment.

We will be recognised for the quality and low-carbon footprint of our innovative products, and be delivering this through a dynamic national network. We will have at least doubled in size and, due to our scale, will have tripled our earnings.

That’s my vision and we’re certainly heading in the right direction.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Find a coach, a mentor or a sponsor to help guide you. There are many pitfalls and mistakes in business leadership so having a supportive voice of experience to help you avoid at least some of them is incredibly helpful.

Equally, take a few calculated risks, make your own luck and put your head above the parapet. Be prepared and ready to make some of those mistakes but be sufficiently self-aware to change direction if needed.

Lastly, I’d say go for it – and make a difference.