Name: Gary Shepherd.

Age: 38.

What is your business called?

James Ramsay (Glasgow) Ltd.

Where is it based?

The East End of Glasgow, just off the M8.

What services does it offer?

We are an industrial and commercial heating, process and pipework specialist. We offer a full range of services including 24/7 call out but our niche is in specialist gas, combustion and steam works.

To whom does it sell?

We work for some of Scotland’s largest and most well-established manufacturing and process plants and our specialist skills have also led to us working on a variety of large renewable projects such as energy centres and district heating systems. We also have maintenance contracts with the Scottish Prison Service, various NHS areas and multiple local authorities.

What is its turnover?

c£8 million.

The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted our business and we have had to adapt our working methods to ensure safety remains at the top of our agenda. Whilst we have remained busy due to our work in several critical industries, including the NHS and the Scottish Prison Service, we have found that new work is slower to commit due to the challenging working environment.

How many employees?

54. We were grateful for the coronavirus job retention scheme. Whilst our office staff remained in operation from home and our key workers continued to service contracts, we had to furlough twenty of our 40 engineering staff for a short time at the start of lockdown in the Spring. The business has bounced back well and we are back at full capacity. However, we have noticed an increase in our cost base, particularly for personal protective equipment (PPE). We are purchasing greater volumes at higher prices.

When was it formed?

1920 (100 years ago).

Why did you take the plunge?

I left university in 2002, going back to college and carrying out a modern apprenticeship in heating and ventilation with James Ramsay. University wasn’t stimulating me in the way I had hoped, and I saw an opportunity to work my way through the ranks in an industry that excited me. Since then, I have worked my way up from apprentice through to becoming managing director this year.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was Operations Director of the business prior to being appointed MD this year.

What was your biggest break?

I like to think that you make your own breaks through hard work but I would say that stepping up to Operations Manager in 2013 was a huge turning point for me. That came when the Nevis Capital investment business and my father Raymond bought out the previous owners and it allowed me to put my own stamp on the day to day running of the business.

What was your worst moment?

There have been a few on the journey: from helping team members through traumatic experiences in their personal lives, to factors outwith our control impacting contracts we have invested a lot of time and effort in. There will always be disappointments along the way but I think it is important to keep driving forward with a positive outlook. I believe if you stick to your work ethic and values that these will eventually get you back on track.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love the industry we work in: It’s rewarding to help our customers solve the variety of engineering issues and problems that we deal with on a day to basis. However, if I had to choose one thing it would be providing good, secure jobs for our workforce and seeing the team around me grow and develop.

What do you least enjoy?

Highly contractual works.

What is your biggest bugbear?

That the relationship between main contractors and sub-contractors can often feel confrontational rather than collaborative.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We have grown at around 20 per cent per annum over the last few years and I would love to see us continue to grow over the next three years while maintaining the same ethos and workmanship and developing our team.

What are your five top priorities?

Health and safety; quality; our people and culture; future growth and business resilience.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

We need a period of political stability following Brexit as uncertainty makes planning and decision making very difficult.

I would note that the support provided by the UK Government for businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic has been excellent and a huge help to many SMEs like ourselves.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

That business is built on people. That includes everyone from the storeman and the lorry driver, through to the engineers, and the team you surround yourself with at management level. Look after your people and your people will look after your business.

How do you relax?

I enjoy switching off at the weekend with quality family time with my wife and kids.