In the first of our series of blogs with key people from across the business, we spoke to Richard Price, Catnic’s Technical Director about his role, the industry and the future of construction.
Can you tell us a bit about your role at Catnic?
As Technical Director, my job covers two main areas. I am heavily involved in the product development process. This includes the design and introduction of brand new products to the market as well as the ongoing review, redesign and improvement of our existing product range.
I also oversee the delivery of the technical services we offer to customers on projects of all sizes. For example, CLASS, the free, comprehensive lintel scheduling service we provide on all standard, thermally broken and specialist lintels used on a project.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to this role?
Since leaving university, I have always worked for companies that manufacture products for the construction industry. The roles have mainly been engineering based, either designing products or providing product advice and design services to customers. Through this I have been fortunate to work in places such as Australia, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. I have also worked in roles covering quality, customer service and manufacturing. As my career progressed I moved into management roles and to support this I studied for an MBA. In late 2007, I was approached about a role at Catnic and have been here ever since.
What changes have you seen in that time?
Just after I joined Catnic in 2008, the UK entered a recession that had a serious impact on the construction industry and brought about significant changes to the sector and to Catnic. At the same time I joined, a new senior management team was put in place. To help Catnic through the recession, we initially looked at all our costs, efficiencies, product design and margins. As a new team with a fresh set of eyes we were able to lay the foundations that would not only take it through the recession but allow it to emerge from those years as a stronger, more profitable and more sustainable business.
What is the part you enjoy the most about working for Catnic?
While Catnic is part of Tata Steel, we have a degree of independence and tend to run in a similar way to an SME business. This means that the decisions or actions I take can have direct impact on the success of Catnic.
What are you most proud of?
Just over 2 years ago we launched a new Thermally Broken Lintel range. This followed a long period of product design, testing, market research, design and implementation of a new manufacturing line. This range of lintels is now leading the UK market as the only lintels that feature a complete thermal break.
What are you looking forward to in the next year at Catnic?
We are currently re-writing the software package that we use for lintel scheduling. This will be introduced in stages over the next year. Taking advantage of changes in technology, it will make us more efficient and enable us to improve our customer service, and hopefully increase our sales.
With Catnic celebrating 50 years, what do you think the next 10 years will look like for Catnic?
Firstly, Catnic has a great reputation for product quality and customer service and we must work hard to continue this. Secondly, the UK housebuilding sector is notoriously conservative but it is slowly evolving and will continue to do so over the next decade. Catnic must keep pace with this; extending our product offering to embrace modern methods such as offsite construction