First, let me introduce myself. I’m Stuart; I’m a freelance marketing consultant. I’ve been working with Morcon for a couple of years now and have got to know what they do (and how they do it) pretty well. When the time came to re-write this ‘about us’ page, it didn’t seem right to simply add the standard page of awkward photos and lists of individual qualifications and achievements. If there’s one thing I know about Morcon, it’s that the value they offer is in the team, not in individual efforts. Equally, Morcon are able to do what they do thanks to entire careers devoted to finding the best ways in which to do them, not through lists of academic achievement.
I have decided to use 2 ‘awkward photos’, but only as Darren and Jonathan are very much the faces of Morcon (going forward). If you want to know absolutely anything about lifting houses, repairing foundations, setting piles, providing designs and calculations for the above, or actually, just about anything foundation related, these are the faces you need to talk to.
Darren Bryan – Managing Director.
As Managing Director, Darren brings the skills of the team together, and makes sure they produce their very best work. Having said that, he’s not the kind of MD you’ll find hiding behind a desk; I’d refer to him as a ‘steel toecap boot’ kind of MD (I’m sure you’ll know what I mean by that). When you work with Morcon, you can rest assured that Darren will be keeping a close eye on things (often literally), even if that means standing on a muddy site in the rain.
It seems to me that being the MD of Morcon is the job that Darren was always meant to do. His skillset, qualifications, experience, and general attitude to this type of work all fit perfectly into the role in which he now finds himself. Obviously, I’m not wanting to make him feel old, but he’s been working in relevant fields since the year my wife was born (1983). Darren’s work history reads like a list of the very best experiences one could undertake in order to develop the very best understanding of the work carried out by Morcon.
I’ll give you some examples.
Darren started his career working on the installation of steel framed farm, industrial, and commercial buildings. It would seem to me that this type of work is a fast-track to understanding how heavy loads need to be handled, supported, and attached to the ground.
Then, as a perfect progression to develop those skills, he spent 3 years at Alton Towers constructing rollercoasters.
I think it goes without saying that with this type of work there is no room for error. Not only are the structures heavy, of complicated shapes, and having dynamic loads placing stress upon them (i.e., a high-speed rollercoaster full of people), they also need to be 100% safe. If anything needs to be structurally sound, it must be a rollercoaster.
The next step in his career allowed Darren to gain an intimate understanding of the other end of the market. As contracts manager for a new build conservatory company, he got to hone his skills and knowledge of how smaller scale works on domestic properties are carried out. This experience was an essential part of the development of the skillset required to put him into the position in which he finds himself today. Morcon pride themselves on reducing the impact that works have on homeowners and residents in properties on which they work, and this experience was Darren’s first foray into working on people’s homes. In my experience, the very best contractors have a profound understanding of the fact that there is a huge difference between working on a ‘building’ and working on a ‘home’.
In 2009, Darren joined Morcon as a contracts manager. In 2014 he was asked to be a Director, and in 2018 accepted the position as Managing Director. Whilst enjoying all aspects of the role, Darren’s real passion is for the lifting of residential properties to protect them from flooding. As you can imagine, with regards to job satisfaction, what can be better than lifting someone’s home out of danger of being flooded? In Darren’s opinion, “not much”.
Whilst gaining many skills from experience, Darren also has an impressive academic / technical record.
He completed a degree in Construction Management in 2019.
Was accepted as a Chartered Construction Manager in 2021 (MCIOB).
And was accepted as a Technical member of IOSH in 2021 (Tech IOSH).
Jonathan Lee – Civil / Structural Engineer.
Jonathan seems to have found his calling in civil engineering. He’s an intelligent guy and has a very keen eye for detail. When you find out that he’s had a passion for building and buildings since his teenage years, structural and civil engineering seems an obvious choice. He’s also a sociable guy, who likes to be out and about meeting people; we’ve got this trait to thank for him joining Morcon. Previously, Jonathan had worked for an engineering consultancy which was predominantly a desk-based role. Jonathan is much better suited to his work here at Morcon; out and about visiting sites and clients; designing real world solutions to client’s problems, in the real world. As Morcon offers a full design and build service, he also gets to design and manage projects from initial consultation right through to completion; he finds this much more satisfying than his previous roles.
Although I promised this page wouldn’t be a list of qualifications, I feel it important to mention that Jonathan holds various qualifications, up to and including his BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering. He’s also taking steps to become a Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Civil Engineering.
Outside of work his sociable nature continues to dominate his free time with spending time with family and friends being his favourite pastime. He’s a keen golfer and a keen skier. I do suspect, however, that the skiing may just be an excuse to go somewhere cold; Jonathan is no fan of hot weather and is much happier when it’s cold.
Raymond Banks – Senior Engineer.
Ray has been the Senior Engineer with Morcon for over 30 years.
A natural problem solver who’s as happy to spend the day in the office working on drawings and calculations as he is travelling for site visits. Ray has provided solutions for clients around the UK including Scotland, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. Ray particularly enjoys meeting property owners who have a construction issue that needs a solution.
Areas of work usually include designing foundations for new buildings, underpinning buildings affected by subsidence, designing and providing structural calculations for retaining walls, and lifting buildings affected by flooding or subsidence.
The ability to lift a building to prevent flooding is a service that has seen increasing popularity in recent years, with its necessity likely to increase further in years to come. Ray’s expertise and knowledge in this area gives Morcon the ability to literally lift a building up and away from most flood risks.
Years after initial construction, buildings tend to be ‘settled’. This can make jacking them into the air quite complex due to the distortions of the building. This area of work is not something that can simply be calculated using traditional methods; a lot of skill, knowledge and experience built up over a career of doing such things is what really gives Ray his value. Ray is happy to admit that some of the techniques we now use to raise these buildings have come about through a certain amount of trial and error. He is also now confident, however, that the process is now relatively risk free. We should probably add a proviso to the phrase ‘trial and error’. Obviously, no unnecessary risks have been taken, and no client property has been damaged. The ‘trial and error’ aspect really relates to the fact that it’s not possible to know you’ve found the very best way to do something, without actually putting it into practice.
From Ray’s point of view there is simply no better job satisfaction than to see a family home previously under severe risk of flooding, lifted out of harm’s way. To give a homeowner a permanent solution to a flooding problem that allows them to discard not only the sandbags, but also the constant worry is hard to beat. Before Morcon, Ray worked with consultants on River and Harbour works. It appears that Ray’s career may have been destined to do battle with water for many, many years.
More recently, a large part of Ray’s job has been in making sure that Jonathan knows everything there is to know about lifting buildings, before he retires. Whilst the world of civil engineering can often be seen as being built upon recognised calculations, norms and best practise, lifting is a little different. With Ray having developed some of the lifting processes over many years this is not the kind of knowledge that can be gained from a textbook. As such, imparting his knowledge onto the next generation at Morcon must be one of the most important roles of his career.
Whilst I was gathering details for this page, Ray enthusiastically told me that they are about to receive instruction to lift a chalet bungalow near Stratford upon Avon. The house, which is already in an idyllic setting and is already mounted on brick piers, will be raised a further metre out of harm’s way and will be supported on steel columns. Not only will the property be safe from flooding, but the delighted owners will be able to enjoy an enhanced view of the nearby river and its wooded surroundings. The enthusiasm with which Ray thinks about these types of projects is infectious.
As with all key members of staff at Morcon, if you want to pick Ray’s brains, he’ll be delighted to take your call.
It goes without saying that without these guys, nothing would get done. Jonathan and Ray can design the most robust and elegant plans in the world, but there’s little point unless we have operatives with the skills, knowledge, and experience to make the plans a reality.
Morcon only use their own highly experienced, permanently employed staff members for all projects, unless the project requires arrangement of some very specialist work, for example the use of large concrete core drilling rigs. These staff are arranged in 4 gangs or 3 men, with each gang having a site supervisor who is not only CSCS and CPCS carded but who will have also received appropriate temporary works and first aid training.
Morcon have a very high level of skill and experience within their workforce from top to bottom; an enviable trait that I put down to their quite remarkable attrition rate. I’ve already mentioned that Raymond, the senior engineer, has spent 30 years with Morcon, but it’s fascinating to realise that this trend continues into the gangs of site staff too. Morcon’s lead site supervisor has been with the company for over 25 years, another member for 20 years, and almost all other site staff have been with the company for many years. The newest team member has been here for 2 years, and only 1 member of staff has left in the last 3. It’s no wonder that the teams are second to none in terms of skill and experience; they’ve literally been doing it for decades.
Whilst working with Morcon I’ve been amazed at their reputation for not only carrying out works on budget, but also within agreed timeframes. In my experience, it’s quite rare for such works to routinely come in on time and on budget, but at Morcon it’s very much the norm. Obviously, this is a reflection on the team in its entirety, but it wouldn’t be possible without a pretty special team of people actually doing the work.
If you are interested in learning more about why staff stay with Morcon, see my ramblings in this article.
Other key staff members.
Obviously, we can’t have an ‘about us’ page without Peter; after all, without Peter, Morcon would never have existed. Whilst playing a crucial role, these days Peter is happy to leave the job of running Morcon to Darren. Peter carries out his role as Chairman with as much enthusiasm as ever. However, these days he’s not ‘customer facing’, instead choosing to support the business from the side-lines.
Catherine, Annette and Cadell.
The support staff play a crucial role in the running of Morcon. The on-site teams and engineers simply couldn’t do what they do if the support staff weren’t back at the office doing what they do. As Company Secretary, Catherine has a very important role but would no doubt struggle to fulfil her duties without the support of Annette and Cadell.
The sales force.
There is no sales force at Morcon. I really like the fact that if you have any questions, queries or simply need advice, you can speak directly to the MD or one of the highly knowledgeable Engineers. Morcon don’t ‘sell’ their solutions per se, with the majority of work coming through previous clients, recommendations, and relationships built with other professionals over many years.