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Athletes' Village will leave a legacy of homes in Glasgow

THE pride in Alastair Wylie's voice is unmistakable as he walks around an exhibition at The Lighthouse in Glasgow showcasing the building work done for the Athletes' Village at the Commonwealth Games.

FORESIGHT: CCG chairman Alastair Wylie oversaw work on the Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village, which will later be converted into living accommodation. Picture: Chris James
FORESIGHT: CCG chairman Alastair Wylie oversaw work on the Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village, which will later be converted into living accommodation. Picture: Chris James

CCG, the firm he is chairman and chief executive of, provided 237 of the 700 homes on the site in the east end of the city.

As someone who spent much of his early life in that part of Glasgow Mr Wylie is pleased to be involved in the regeneration effort and he cites it as an "incredible" effort, reserving particular praise for CCG staff who worked on the contract.

At The Lighthouse, Scotland's national centre for design and architecture, Mr Wylie points out a large timber frame structure in the centre of the space as one from his own company.

He then goes on to point out a number of details, including the names of several people who work at CCG, in the photographs, videos and models around the exhibition.

Workers from the business and the other firms involved — Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel and WH Malcolm — will be back there after the athletes have departed to begin the conversion process to allow new residents to live there as part of the legacy of the event.

It is perhaps an apt image for the steadily growing confidence in the construction sector that things are, at long last, picking up.

And Mr Wylie believes CCG is extremely well placed to take advantage of an upturn in conditions.

The business has retained a workforce of 600 which includes manufacturing of timber frame, door and windows manufacturing, asset management, roofing, development and traditional construction services.

Mr Wylie, who has been majority shareholder since 1999, said decisions to invest more than £12 million in increasing manufacturing capacity during the recession may have appeared reckless to some observers.

The 63-year-old, softly spoken and understated but with a lively turn of phrase, said: "People may think that was foolhardy but I don't need to be a smart guy to know that if you are going to invest during a recession you will get more bang for your buck."

"If you think something is going to happen, then it is going to happen. History tells us things will not always be on the slide but you have to have a wee bit of bottle.

"A recession doesn't go on forever.

"It is not rocket science. It is being prepared to do what you have to do to move things on."

Mr Wylie suggested CCG continued to be choosy over who it worked for even during the recession.

He said: "While the market in a recession if you chap too many strange doors they will invite you in but only at rock bottom prices less 20 per cent.

"Now it is a different kettle of fish. We see there is a market out there and we are well positioned to attract new customers in that marketplace. The structure has been maintained so we are not bringing in new faces to learn new things."

The Commonwealth Games is not the only high-profile project which CCG has worked on.

In recent years it has been involved in the revamp of the Olympia in Bridgeton, the overhaul of the Kelvingrove Bandstand and the conversion of a 19th century bathhouse for The Modern Institute in the Merchant City.

In the past it built Celtic's training facilities at Lennoxtown.

Yet its bread and butter work tends to be in housing, with social housing a particular specialism.

Mr Wylie said: "No other company has the synergy and combination of our divisions."

Subjects which Mr Wylie is clearly passionate about are staff development and apprenticeships.

He said: "We have 58 apprentices currently. We have taken about a dozen or slightly more on every single year in the recession.

"We will need a heavy input of apprenticeships over the next two, three and four years."

Mr Wylie talks about his enjoyment of mentoring younger people in the business and outlines in detail a number of training programmes the business operates.

He praises the "intensity" of the CCG human resources department in getting the best out of people and said: "To sustain a company going forward you have to make the right appointments.

"I am very, very proud of what we have done.

"The next goal I have is to ensure the long term sustainability of the business for not just the next five or 10 years [but] to have the habit and culture within a business that it is recognised so they perpetuate themselves going forward. That is a process we are going through just now and we are seeing great results."

As yet Mr Wylie has no interest in retiring and is still very actively involved in the contracting and project development work CCG does. However he admitted: "You cannot go on for ever. I have young people running the business but I am not on their back."

Buthe insists a role spent "wining and dining" and a general slowing down are not for him either.

"I enjoy my work, we have built a great business and I am not going to hibernate. I am here for the long haul."

Expansion into England and Wales as well as broadening the third party supply of timber frames, doors and windows to third parties are being explored although Mr Wylie has no intention of "chucking" money at things which will have no return.

"Whilst you should never ever be complacent - if you get to the top of the hill the only way is down - I always reckon we will just keep climbing.

"It is about knowing the right time to push the button.

"It Is like a military offensive. You get to the bridgehead, you control that, secure it and then punch forward beyond that. You don't try to push it too far."

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