60 seconds with Dorian Lawrence, Managing Director of Face Facades

This month we had the pleasure of talking to Dorian Lawrence, who as well as being the Managing Director of Face Facades, Dorian has a hands-on role in both a consulting and manufacturing business that we talk about further below.

Keep reading to find out how this customer focussed MD is driving his businesses to make buildings safer.

You have worked in the facade industry for over 30 years, how did things begin?
I started as a trainee quantity surveyor at 17 for a small builder. I could see that construction was changing and facades were very much a specialist field, so at 22 when I qualified I set up a small facade business and it has all progressed from there.

As construction methods changed, our company was built around the methodology and changes, to give you an idea of how this works I’d like to tell you about a project we have been involved in at a 100 room student accommodation.

Our company FRFRC attended site, we removed panels for testing, looked at the type of construction and the materials used, and then reported on this and the works needed to make the building safe. Face Facades were then appointed as the contractor, due to the speed and cost that we could complete the works, all of the ACM was removed and we put in place a temporary facade so that the building complied with regulations and the students were all able to move in.

We are able to provide the whole service to make a building safe as we also manufacture all of the ancillary and sundry items which makes the process quicker and takes the stress away for the building manager.

Following the report we were able to strip the building and install a temporary façade, this process would normally take 16 weeks but we were able to complete within 10 weeks.

What does your role at Face Façade include on a day to day basis?
As well as the Managing Director of Face Facades, I also oversee FRFRC and am the Chairman of SLS, our manufacturing plant in Andover where I am onsite twice a week.

We have a board of Directors and have promoted a culture in an open plan office where all of the team are able to ask questions and discuss ideas. I oversee the design, resourcing, production, financial and commercial aspects of the business which allows me to know where we are all the time.

The team are focused on looking after customers, providing a quality service and making sure that our customers are aware of the time constraints and we manage these expectations.

What do you feel makes Face Facade different in the market place?
Because we are able to handle the whole process – the consultancy side FRFRC looks at the issues, assesses the fire risk and provides guidance and then as we have the supply chain under control we are not reliant on third parties, and we can undertake the remedial works very quickly.

We pride ourselves on a good customer base, providing a quality service which leads to repeat business across all businesses.

Who do you admire most in the industry?
In this industry we are short of good quality staff, so I admire those who have the foresight to take on apprentices across the business to understand how the company works.

We operate a training programme across all our departments where we take on apprentices to develop and grow. In our design team we have a young lady who wanted to be a designer, she goes to college for her CAD qualification, has a training plan in place and we provide the commitment to her learning and development. Our commitment to her development has enabled her to focus on her learning, and she can often be seen in the office at 7:30am working on her training before starting work. Providing opportunities like this mean that apprentices understand the whole business and will be part of our skilled workforce in the future.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career?
Keep a business to a controllable size with the right staff, who know and understand your process. It’s no good trying to grow if you don’t have the resource to undertake work, you need to know what you can do and when you can do it.

What is your proudest achievement?
Being able to make buildings safer, with the student accommodation project the students moved in on time, temporary accommodation wasn’t needed and there was no inconvenience to the freeholder and landlord.

From a personal perspective, I tend to look forward and not back, but I am proud of being able to grow three businesses to a successful level.

What drives you crazy about the property management industry?
There are a lot of buildings that are unsafe and it concerns me that huge sums of money are being spent on temporary solutions such as fire marshal’s on site when we are able to work on a long term solution to remove and make a building safe quickly.