Learnings from a Lifetime in Business
8th Mar 2019
Having recently turned 60, and spending over half his life working at Lee Wakemans, we decided to catch up with one of the Founders and Directors of Lee Wakemans, Kevin Parry, to see what lessons he has learned along the way, what his memorable moments have been and what the future holds.
Kevin's career began in the Welsh Development Agency, where he met some important people who were going to play a significant part in his future.
After the former Welsh Development Agency's quantity surveying department disbanded in 1985, Kevin and his colleagues, Gordon Lee and Ken James went on to set up 'Lee, James and Parry'. The three of them, working as a company of chartered quantity surveyors spent its early days in a small office on Queen Street, Cardiff.
In 1990, Kevin tells how they formed a working association with a national firm, Wakemans, and became 'Lee Wakemans', as they are still known today.
In 2011, Ken James stepped down from his role as Director and was later joined by Mike Hughes and Paul Wong who took on the roles of fellow Directors of the company.
On Success and Longevity...
Kevin credits the company's success to three main things; Innovation, Adaptability and Relationships.
He says that over the years, they have always kept abreast of innovation and current approaches to delivering their business, both internally and externally.
Having the ability to continually adapt to change, and being flexible in your approach, helps ensure you provide a good service to clients. Kevin believes that this leads to more repeat business from existing clients and also helps develop new business. Some clients have been working with the Company for over 33 years since its formation, which is testament to this approach.
Building relationships and ensuring you have a quality, professional service is the third factor for a lasting business. By taking the time to understand your clients' and your co-workers' perspective in any given situation, allows you to respond more mindfully and together achieve a better result.
Ensuring there is fun in your working relationships makes the whole process more enjoyable as well. After all, Kevin says, he's been with Lee Wakemans for half his lifetime and it's important to make sure there's fun in the place you spend a lot of your time.
On the highs and lows...
Like anything that spans a long period of time, Kevin told us that there are inevitably low points along with the highs. The business enjoyed great success early on, and has ridden the 'economic cycles' in the wider industry and economy, which at times has been difficult. Managing growth has been crucial to the long term success of the business.
High points have been growing the business, and creating a thriving team, as well as developing an international client base and operating in overseas markets.
On Keeping Motivated...
New challenges and taking satisfaction from the knowledge that what you are doing is valued is a key motivator for Kevin. Satisfying clients on project delivery never fails to encourage you to pursue the next opportunity he says.
On the Future...
Kevin believes that the future is looking bright for Lee Wakemans. Having invested a lot in the people working at the Company, as well as the systems and the client base, they are in a great place to continue to grow and take advantage of all the future has to offer.