A year as CEO

September 3, 2020

Chris Cant, CEO of Metnor Group, reflects on a year overseeing the upwards trajectory of the company

Tell us a bit about Metnor Group, and how the company has evolved over the last five years?

Founded in the 1960s, Metnor Group is a far cry from the business it was. It now has three main operating divisions: construction, mechanical and electrical contracting, and the supply of pressure testing equipment to the oil and gas industry.

When I was appointed managing director of  Metnor Construction in 2015, the first thing I wanted to do was address the clear gaps in our offer and brand, and to tackle concerns around staffing and resources. It was also important that we worked on our brand image from the inside out to ensure that who we were internally, reflected how we are perceived externally.

I could see so much potential in the business and I knew with the right changes and a clear vision in place we could achieve great things. I’d wake up in the night with ‘light bulb moments’, frantically looking for a pen and paper so I could write them down.

At the time, our biggest contracts were worth £5 million to £10 million but are now between £20 million and £50 million, which is remarkable. It shows how far we’ve come.

Now, as CEO of the Metnor Group, I’d like to continue on the upwards trajectory building on what we have achieved. To do this, we need to be flexible, adaptable and constantly reviewing the business’s infrastructure, ensuring that all divisions of the group are working cohesively for the benefit of our clients.

To manage that process you need great people and I’m exceptionally proud that we have attracted and retained what, in my opinion, are the region’s best staff. We have a strong senior management team in place across each business who are working together to help us deliver our business plan. One element to helping us achieve that is encouraging our staff to push the boundaries as a business further than we have before.

How would you describe Metnor Group’s core values?

We have four core values at Metnor Group, which have been created in collaboration with our staff. We knew early on that if they were to mean anything, our staff had to take ownership of them.

‘Challenge yourself ’ encourages our people to continue to grow and develop and to step out of their comfort zones to provide better experiences and outcomes for clients. ‘Be stronger together’ centres on building close and connected relationships with our clients and teams because we believe that when we work together, we grow together too. The company embraces collaborative working across the board and the team instils this approach by being open and friendly.

‘Embracing change’ is also a key part of who we are. We live in a fast-paced world and so it’s important we are agile in our thinking and not afraid to try new things. Our last value is about each of us taking responsibility to ‘play your part’, doing more than just turning up but being accountable for our job and taking ownership for the impact we have.

Where do you see the company in five years?

Having worked for the company for over 17 years, I’ve seen a lot of change, but my vision for the future of the business remains the same. I wanted to build on solid foundations established over the years – such as completing our projects on time, within budget and to an exceptional quality. To do that I needed to improve our internal brand and ensure our new and existing customers bought into that vision.

Our challenge will be unifying all the divisions under the group brand as we continue to grow, while allowing them to flourish individually too. We also want to harness the collective expertise of the Metnor Group divisions, from our construction services to the mechanical and electrical installation services of our Norstead division in order to offer a total solution for our clients.

In terms of revenue growth, in five years, I’d like to see us consistently achieve turnover in excess of £150 million per annum and for Metnor Group to be known as an industry leader in the UK for the sectors we operate in. With the plans and team we have in place, I am confident of this being more than achievable.

Overall, we remain relentlessly focussed on delivering the highest standard of work to our key sectors, including student accommodation, care homes, hotels and leisure, data centres, commercial, retail and healthcare.

If you could describe the future Metnor Group in one sentence, what would it be?

‘An outstanding company in the UK that genuinely cares about all the people we work with from our staff to supply chain.’

You’ve been CEO for just over a year now, what qualities do you think it takes to be a good leader?

I’d like to think I bring drive, energy and enthusiasm to my CEO role. You need to have confidence and a ‘can-do’ attitude backed up with technical ability and tenacity to see things through. You can’t be afraid of making difficult decisions, no matter how hard they may be and making the necessary changes when needed. Patience is also vital and keeping that razor-sharp focus on the long-term vision of the business. Not everything will happen overnight – but it will happen.

Mentors and role models are important too. I’ve had a number throughout my career. That said, my biggest inspiration is and always will be my mum. Her philosophy simple – work hard and be nice to people. I think that really resonates with who we are at Metnor.

Metnor Group

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