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EMPLOYEE STORY

TERRAMS 50TH CELEBRATIONS | TCS GEOTECHNICS

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Terram turns the big 50

Terram (part of the Berry Global Group), recently celebrated 50 years serving the industry and to mark this historic occasion held an open day for key customers.  To show our support for one of our key supplier partners TCS Geotechnics Technical Director Ian Fraser, Sales Manager Kieran Burke and Product Manager Adam Brooksbank all attended.

The event started at 1 pm with a short meet and greet followed by a presentation on 50 years of Terram (and 31 years of Stephen Hancock) and the many changes that have taken place over the years. A tour of the manufacturing facility followed, before a reception and entertainment at a nearby venue. This provided a relaxed opportunity to network with the Terram staff we speak to on a daily basis and fellow Terram customers. Guess-the-Volume competitions were held on Terram 1000 and Bodpave 85 annual sales and our very own Adam Brooksbank successfully guessed the Terram figure. Apparently the Terram finance department’s answer of ‘not enough’ was not acceptable.

The day finished with a few quiet (or perhaps not so quiet) drinks with the guests and staff of Terram to celebrate their achievement.

The event was clearly a huge success for Terram and we at TCS enjoyed it immensely.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank Terram and look forward to partnering them as they grow and develop the next 50 years of the Terram story.

A PERSONAL TOUCH IN GEOSYNTHETICS | ADAM BROOKSBANK

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ADAM BROOKSBANK
PRODUCT MANAGER

GEOSYNTHETICS – A PERSONAL TOUCH

LIVING THE GEOTECHNICAL DREAM

We recently celebrated National Apprenticeship week at TCS with a blog from one of our former apprentices, Connor Parkinson, who is now a fully-fledged member of the sales team. It struck a chord with me as my son will be a school leaver this year and he too is looking to embark on an apprenticeship. This soon had me reminiscing about my own career and realising 2019 marks 20 years since I left secondary education and embarked on an apprenticeship of my own.

After a couple of years trying various industries, and quickly learning that motor vehicle mechanics was not for me, I moved into a business apprenticeship with a manufacturer of drainage and gas venting geocomposites, where I started as a sales support administrator. The construction and civil engineering sector quickly grabbed my attention and I found something that was not only interesting but also challenging. In the early 2000’s geosynthetic materials were still seen as some new age technology, despite being around for a couple of decades at that time. I was particularly interested in how these materials replaced traditional construction methods I began a largely self-taught journey of the products and their applications. Upon completing my apprenticeship I moved into a full-time sales role dealing with an array of products including erosion control mats, geocomposite drainage layers and geomembrane liners to name just a few.

After five years I was approached by a specialist sub-contractor of geomembranes and bioengineering products, to become National Sales and Contracts Manager. I had no experience of contract management or sales management, but off I headed from sunny Holmfirth in West Yorkshire down to the beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside. At 22 years of age, this was a daunting experience but one I really enjoyed. Here I learned more about geomembranes and the various applications of these materials including lining of attenuation tanks, baffle curtains in underground reservoirs, lake and pond lining. I also gained experience in the different types of membranes such as HDPE, LLDPE, PP (Polypropylene) and EPDM including why different polymers suited different applications. From requiring high chemical resistance that HDPE offers for applications such as contaminated ground, to the flexibility of PP geomembranes and the ease of installation over HDPE in demanding and awkward shaped applications. I also learned more in-depth about the bioengineering side of the industry which included coir erosion control mats such as our Techmat CN and CB ranges, pre-established coir pallets and rolls, brushwood faggots, rock rolls, and floating islands. Moving to a new part of the country in a new role helped to shape who I am today and enhanced and expanded my product knowledge.

Moving on I joined CMS as part of the geotechnical products sales team distributing polymer paviours, geogrids, grass protection matting, woven and non-woven geotextiles, and other geotechnical solutions. Following a takeover by SIG and a move in premises from Warrington to Manchester, I was installed as sales manager for CMS which then became SIG Geotechnical, after three successful years building the business and helping with the integration into SIG I joined Mark Maloney and Philip Cox, two previous directors from CMS, who had set up Technical Civils Solutions.

JOINING TCS GEOTECHNICS

The TCS brief was simple, Mark and Phil had identified the growing geotechnical market and wanted someone with my knowledge and expertise to join the business and grow this sector. This was a huge challenge – holding small stocks of geotextiles and geogrids and being known predominantly in the North West, the lure of being able to help create something from scratch and the challenge of showcasing TCS and it’s product range to a wider audience throughout the UK was one I was unable to turn down. I set about building a suite of products to provide geotechnical solutions to a now growing customer base, turning around enquiries in a timely manner and delivering products and solutions available from an expanding range of stock. TCS continued to grow and went from strength to strength as the business grew to become TCS Geotechnics, a leader in the supply of geotechnical products and systems. TCS has now become distributors of Tensar geogrids, Terram non-woven geotextiles, drainage geocomposites, Bodpave polymer paviours, and Grassprotecta grass protection mats, Lotrak wovens and the Formpave Aquaflow geotechnical ancillaries including Inbitex, SC Membrane and SC Intergrid amongst others. Nine years on from starting with TCS I am proud to be a part of a fantastic team of individuals and working for a progressive company with a great reputation within the industry. Here’s to the next 9 years.

ADAM BROOKSBANK

A PERSONAL TOUCH IN GEOSYNTHETICS | CONNOR PARKINSON

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CONNOR PARKINSON
SALES EXECUTIVE

GEOSYNTHETICS – A PERSONAL TOUCH

THE POINT OF VIEW OF AN APPRENTICE

In our first blog in the series themed ‘Geosynthetics – A Personal Touch’ Joanne Murray mentioned the apprenticeship scheme that TCS participate in. I thought that a blog covering this in a bit more details might be useful to anyone considering this route.

I started on the TCS apprenticeship scheme after my first year at college and I am pleased to say that it has given me an excellent foundation on which to build my growing understanding of the geotechnical products we stock and sell. I have learned about our varied and extensive merchant network customer base and have developed my knowledge of the geosynthetic market.

I started college in 2013 and studied Physical Education, Sociology, Psychology & Business Studies without fully knowing what I wanted to do as a career. I passed all my exams in the first year but felt I wanted to do something within a working environment and to learn on the job whilst practicing the skills I had picked up in my first year in business studies.

So I started the second year looking out for potential apprenticeship opportunities. I didn’t want to rush into anything so I took my time and waited for the right opportunity. After some time came across an advertisement for an apprentice sales advisor at TCS Geotechnics. At the time I had no geotechnical background so the products and services TCS offer was completely new to me but that made the opportunity all the more interesting. I applied for the position, was given an interview and not long after, received an offer. I quickly accepted and started in April 2015.

The scheme at TCS offered me on the job training relating to the products, services and sales techniques utilised by TCS. I also received training on the accounting and CRM software packages and became proficient in all the various transport and logistics portals. TCS also gave me time within the working day to study a level 2 Business Administration NVQ qualification. I completed this course and progressed to Level 3 Business Administration NVQ qualification which I completed in May 2018.
I think there have been many benefits to learning on the job. Not only does it help to focus on the specific products and processes that TCS have in place but it allowed me to start to build up key relationships with my customers and the associated confidence. Responding to enquiries quickly and offering a rapid and informative level of service is one of the key qualities TCS pride themselves on.

The training I have received has allowed me to develop the skills needed to do this and it is clearly very much appreciated based on the positive responses I receive from customers. Converting a quotation into an order always gives me that sense of achievement and motivates me to continue to develop in my role. I have recently started to visit my customers at their branches to further extend and build on those relationships. By representing TCS and meeting the customers face to face, it gives an extra dimension to our growing relationships.

FUTURE PLANS/DEVELOPMENT HOPES

For the future, I want to gain as much experience as I can in the geotechnical industry, as I feel I am yet to even scratch the surface of this dynamic and growing market. This would involve learning more about the specialist geotechnical products that we can offer and also gaining further knowledge of the markets TCS operate in. The natural progression on from this would be for me to take on more of a leadership role at some point in the future.

I am actively involved in mentoring our current apprentice and I enjoy passing on my knowledge, knowing that I was that new starter a couple of years ago and feeling proud of how far I have progressed since.

CONNOR PARKINSON

portrait of Joanne murray infront of a stack of Tensar Triax

A PERSONAL TOUCH IN GEOSYNTHETICS | JOANNE MURRAY

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JOANNE MURRAY
SALES & MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR

GEOSYNTHETICS- A PERSONAL TOUCH

Now four months into my new role at TCS Geotechnics and starting a new year, I have been reflecting on how I got to where I am now. To join a company straight from school, when you don’t really know which direction you want your career to take, then to end up staying for 15 years, speaks volumes about that positive experience. Finding your feet and taking your place in an industry you originally knew nothing about was an achievement in itself. Additionally, learning about geotechnics and geosynthetic products has been very interesting and satisfying, particularly as many of these products work in clever and innovative ways giving effective and sustainable results.

To learn on a job and grow and develop as a person within a company is very special. Having the support of geotechnical and civil engineers and other related professionals, plus regular training all the way through my career has been very important to me. Tensar® was my one constant throughout all of my major life events including marriage, buying my first house, two children and university.

A WHOLE NEW ANGLE

When the time came to spread my wings and gain new experience elsewhere the thought of leaving one company after 15 years and going to another was a scary one. However, the beauty of moving to an existing geotechnical distributor of Tensar products, was the familiarity with those products. The opportunity to continue to contribute to the growth and sale of those innovative products and systems but from a different angle. However, the welcome challenge is that I am now dealing with a different set of customers; the merchant network and also a wider new range of geotechnical and geosynthetic products. In addition to Tensar Geogrids, there are new products for me to learn about such as geocellular confinement systems (Techcell),  woven geotextiles, invasive weed barriers (Plantex) and gabions to name a few.

The support from suppliers to stock their market leading products such as Tensar TriAx geogrids, Terram Bodpave, Dupont Plantex and Formpave Aquaflow, shows how dedicated we are to supplying only the best products to our customers.

Selling geotechnical and geosynthetic products to the market via the merchant network is an interesting business model built on excellent levels of service and customer relations. Our approach allows us to build trusting relationships with our merchant customers, which is a very important core value to TCS and something that was born out of Mark and Phil’s original experience when working in the merchant sector before they set up TCS 10 years ago.

FAMILY FEEL

Following my former Tensar Director, Ian Fraser, to TCS helped me to feel very much at home straight away.  From the word go, I settled into TCS as they have a close family-like feel. How many companies can you say the owners/directors work in the same office, joining in with the laughs but, more importantly, the day to day running of the business?  Discussions about our business strategy and product ranges take place in an open and inclusive way creating a professional and team-driven environment, reflecting the type of company that TCS is and one that is a pleasure to be involved in.

I am also proud to say that I work for a company that actively supports an apprenticeship scheme helping young school leavers learn on the job and through college placements, to be the future of TCS. I was once that school leaver and the start to my career at a successful company was an extremely important step for me.

JOANNE MURRAY