Thirty years ago, the world witnessed some of the most momentous events of modern times.
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela walked free, having served 27 long years in prison. West and East Germany agreed to unify, after the Berlin Wall came down a year earlier. The forces of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait – US President George Bush and others sent their considerable forces to drive them out again.
In Britain, unemployed young mother Joanna (J.K.) Rowling began writing a book about a boy-wizard named Harry Potter. Having presented his idea, Tim Berners-Lee began work on the so-called ‘World Wide Web’. And under the Channel, English and French tunnellers linked-up, restoring a land connection between Britain and Europe after 8,000 years.
What about in Jersey? Well, while arguably not on the same scale as those listed above, in 1990, two locally employed structural engineers decided time was right to strike out on their own. Given Jersey’s then buoyant construction industry, Geoff Thomas and Ray Griffiths saw an opportunity to form their own practice.
They called it Thomas & Griffiths, later shortened to T&G. This year, T&G Structural Engineers are celebrating 30 years in business.
‘Overall, I am looking forward to marking this year’s milestone with a great sense of pride,’ reflects T&G’s present company director Ian Bashforth. ‘Pride in how the business looks today, pride in what we have accomplished over the last 30 years, and special pride in the T&G team – we have had, and continue to attract some truly exceptional people…present company excepted of course.’
How T&G looks today is certainly far removed from how it looked 30 years ago.
The modern look is partly due to changes in the industry, or at least to the way structural engineers approach their profession. When Geoff and Ray started on their own, engineers worked on drawing boards, using pencil, pen and ruler to design the complex construction solutions associated with any building. Today, T&G’s engineers work almost exclusively on workstations using the most advanced 3D design systems imaginable. And employ revolutionary virtual reality applications to bring client designs to life.
The modern T&G has also come about from a tenacious desire by Ian and others to keep the business moving forward, to always look for opportunities and seize those that arise.
‘When I started working for T&G back in 1990, its outlook was like that of most similar organisations,’ Ian recalls. ‘We were engineers first, business people second. Upon becoming managing director in 2001, however, I began to change this. While engineering excellence had to remain at the heart of what we did, strong focus on business planning and development was essential if T&G were going to thrive in the 21st century.’
Business development included expanding into Guernsey in 2010, taking over local structural engineers Babbé McCathie – a company which intriguingly also formed in 1990. Business planning followed, with a complete overhaul of T&G’s outward-facing persona, as the company rebranded and enhanced its online presence. Most recent has been taking on sharp new offices in the town centre, a move deemed necessary for remaining close to client expectations.
‘Moving to Sommerville House in Phillips Street made absolute sense,’ explained Ian. ‘While understandably more expensive than out of town accommodation, it’s about business progression and priorities. We recognise the modern need for strong collaboration on projects – being in St Helier puts us in touching distance of most we are working for or alongside. This place, along with all the other effort, creates a firm foundation for today’s T&G and that of the foreseeable future. Another 30 years? Well, just watch this space!’
On Saturday the 9th September T&G had the pleasure of taking part in the It’s A Knockout 2017 charity event to raise funds for the Special Care Baby …