Calum Melville is chief executive of Edison Group, an expanding construction and property business based in Irvine that is taking on new projects throughout Scotland and much further afield.

What have you been up to lately? 

The focus of our construction activities is Principal Building Limited, in which we have recently invested £2 million in plant and equipment, talent and a state-of-the-art facility at Langlands Business Park in East Kilbride. This location features 16,500sq ft of modern workshops with 3,500sq ft of modern refurbished offices. It will accommodate around 80 employees over the course of this year.

How do you operate?

We are primarily a construction, property, renewables and manufacturing business. We have brought together a number of businesses whose activities complement each other so that, ideally, we can minimise the number and costs of bringing in outside parties to complete successful construction projects.

We recently broke ground in Renfrewshire, right across the Clyde from Dumbarton Rock, on a £2.5m joint venture project to build a new holiday resort destination just 25 minutes from Glasgow city centre which we will open this summer as luxury lodges, available for rental all year round.

Guests will be able to choose from two and three-bed high-end self-catering lodges, complete with jacuzzi, barrel steam room, a full suite of on-demand TV packages and BBQ. In addition there will be a dedicated space for weddings and other events. As a result, in a roundabout way, we find ourselves in the leisure industry too.

Who are your customers?

Local authorities, trade, commercial and residential clients, principally in Scotland but also throughout the rest of the UK.

We are active also overseas and last month entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Kabcon, one of the leading contracting companies in Saudi Arabia which  represents a collaborative effort to unlock growth and contribute to the realisation of Vision 2030 – a government program launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which aims to boost diversification economically, socially and culturally in the region. Our partnership will capitalise on the combined strengths of both companies to unlock lucrative business opportunities in the Kingdom's booming construction and electrical engineering sectors. 

What is your turnover? 

Projected 2024 sales are north of £30m. 

How many people do you employ? 

Around 30 with another seven colleagues due to start in March. As they say, “we are hiring”, and as month-by-month our business develops we need to staff it with bright, hard-working people with a can-do attitude.

Why did you take the plunge?  

I am an entrepreneur at heart. I like to build businesses by facing and (usually) overcoming the significant challenges along the way.

We have been acquiring companies in the construction sector throughout the UK over the last two years, and I love the cut and thrust of negotiation that leads to the right outcome. Of course, if you can buy a complementary business whose talented managers and leaders can be integrated into your overall structure you are off to a great start, both operationally and commercially.

What do you least enjoy? 

Interacting with lawyers and accountants. I acknowledge that it’s a critical part of building a successful business, but I tend to find myself wanting to be out on site with clients or at my desk, solving problems and coming up with creative solutions when, instead, I’m tied to dealing with detailed legal and financial issues.

What are your ambitions for the firm? 

To grow our business by a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisition of complementary businesses to £100m sales with double digit EBITDA by 2030. By that point we would be amongst the bigger players in Scotland’s construction sector with, I anticipate, a reputation for quality work, great customer service and a happy and efficient home team.

Above all, I want us to enjoy what we do and to help spread that attitude amongst all our stakeholders.

What single thing would most help? 

Access to top talent. We have concentrated on bringing in talented people which, in turn, has driven group sales over the recent past. Any business owner will tell you that finding people with the right skills, experience, and most importantly, attitude, is exceptionally challenging. My door is always open to experienced people who are hungry for success and can demonstrate a track record of tangible achievement.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? 

I’ve been in business long enough to have learned any number of valuable lessons but if pressed I’d say that there are two that stand out. First, “Do it right first time and every time," and “Always protect your reputation, it’s much more important than you realise."

Where do you find yourself most at ease? 

In the office surrounded by like-minded colleagues. It’s important to have a happy, stable homelife too of course and I’m fortunate in that respect, but I feel I am most alive in a dynamic business environment where there are opportunities to be seized and a world to be won.

If you weren’t in your current role, what job would you most fancy? 

Warren Buffet’s driver - just imagine how much I would learn listening to the world’s greatest investor? I know that would raise the tricky question of “insider trading”, but it’s only a favourite fantasy role after all.

What phrase or quotation has inspired you the most? 

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” This has stood me in good stead throughout the ups and downs of my business career to date. It’s especially helpful when you find things are not exactly going your way.

What is the best book you have ever read? Why is it the best? 

Margaret Thatcher: The Autobiography. Baroness Thatcher’s struggle to get to the top in a man’s world, starting from a modest background and through brains, sheer guts and determination, rising to become an Oxford graduate, a research chemist, a barrister, an MP, and Cabinet Minister and finally, Prime Minister, then waging a successful war on the other side of the world for the right reasons and transforming the UK economy from a failing socialist state to a vibrant flourishing country once again proud of itself. 

What has been your most challenging moment in life or business? 

Where do I start with this one? I have had enormous personal, business and mental health challenges that I think would finish off most people, yet here I am. There is no shame in failing, only in failing to come back from failure. This is what drives me to build Edison Group, that and the belief that me, Edison Group and all members of our team should strive at all times to be all they can be.

What do you now know that you wish you had known when starting out in your career? 

Surround yourself with great people who push you, challenge and inspire you. Easier said than done, I admit, but vital if you want to build a successful business that generates profits, treats its stakeholders with respect, and through its success makes a contribution to the wider community. I’ve always been drawn to the expression, “If you think you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”