Interview with Kevin Parry
18th Jun 2019
13th June 2018
LEARNINGS FROM A LIFETIME IN BUSINESS
Having recently turned 60, and spending over half of 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 & Parry. The three of them, working as a company of Chartered Quantity Surveyors spent its early days in an 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.
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.
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 over half his lifetime and it's important to make sure there's fun in the place you spend a lot of your time in.
On the highs and the lows...
Like anything that spans a long period of time, Kevin told us that there are inevitably low points as well as the highs. The business enjoyed great success early on, and has ridden the 'economic cycles' in the wider industry and economy. Managing growth has been crucial to the long term success of the business.
Kevin relays that the 'great recession' - the economic downturn between 2008 and 2013 -- was a particular challenge for the company, and they had to find ways to adapt and continue to thrive. In the 90's Kevin was working between 60 and 70 hours a week, which was unsustainable and challenging with a young family at home. Experience and honing the company's business practices has meant that he now has a better work-life balance and is still achieving great things.
High points have been growing the business to the team of 20 that it is today, and developing an international client base, 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.
On the Future...
Kevin says 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 the all the future has to offer.