Being the best scaffolding company they can possibly be is what continues to drive on one of the UK’s top family firms – now into its 50th profitable year. No job is too big for Lyndon Scaffolding as it celebrates half a century of success. Grahame Anderson caught up with CEO Robert Lynch to discover the secret behind its outstanding reputation.

Projects don’t come much bigger or more prestigious than the Scottish Parliament Building, Welsh Assembly and BBC Broadcasting House. But I wondered if there was a project Lynch was particularly proud of?

Rob explained: “Of the more recent really large-scale projects, Birmingham Gateway – New Street station, is one I am very proud of, a hugely complex project with rail and public interface spread out over four years. The project for Network Rail has transformed the centre of our home town.

“But if I had to pick one project in the last few months highlighting what we are trying to achieve, it would be a complex drop lift scaffold on a city centre site. Although the job wasn’t very great in value, it certainly showcased a high level of expertise in traditional scaffolding, and our design capacity. More than anything else however, what really stood out was the fact the charge-hand scaffolder stopped the job…

“Prior to erecting one section of the scaffold the team became uncomfortable with the exclusion zone, and despite protestations from the client’s site management, they refused to start work until a larger exclusion zone and out of hours working meant our team was happy.

“This is exactly what I want from a team of scaffolders. I want them to have confidence in their assessment as professionals, to be prepared to stop the job when they have safety concerns, and to know that they will be supported by regional management, and me. I want our scaffolders to recognise when it comes to erecting scaffolding they are professionals and to have the confidence to act accordingly.”

Lyndon Scaffolding CEO, Rob Lynch
Lyndon Scaffolding CEO, Rob Lynch

Lyndon has a fantastic reputation both in and outside the industry. This legend is something achieved over a number of years and with the backing of outstanding management. So just what is the ethos and philosophy of the company?

“The philosophy is all about putting the scaffolders front and centre of everything we do,” said Rob. “We all need to work together to make their jobs as easy as possible, so they can safely deliver safe temporary access. This philosophy impacts everything we do: An easy example is the materials we use from high yield steel, which Lyndon pioneered more than 30 years ago, machine stress graded BS2482 boards, to buying only the best possible fittings, and then investing more by servicing them – every time they are used.

“We have a very proud history of innovation from high yield steel, using roll off lorries, to developing the extending (‘Paddy’) transom and the safety step – all widely adopted by the scaffolding industry. Each innovation was about finding ways to make the scaffolder’s job easier and safer.

“All Lyndon supervisors, contract managers and senior managers are scaffolders: This is really important to us as contract scaffolding is what we do and who else knows the job better?

“Lyndon Scaffolding was created by two scaffolders, Tommy and Paddy Lynch, so it’s deep in our DNA how best to deliver scaffolding. On a personal level it needs to be understood Lyndon is a family company. It was created by my father and uncle from nothing, as scaffolders working on the tools. It remains a family company. It is the desire to be the most respected scaffolding company in the UK, not just this year or next year but in the long term, year in year out. It’s about being the best we possibly can be, on every single job across the UK.”

Image credit: Rhino Shrink Wrap

Nothing stands still of course, and half a century is a long time in the employment sense. How has the industry changed and what does a company like Lyndons need to do to keep up with those changes? Rob told ScaffMag:

“For those who watch scaffolding companies there have been some pretty obvious changes. Some of the old major players have left the industry or have much reduced their activities, while lately a new big beast has evolved. But I think these changes are much less interesting, and will have less of a long-term impact than the changes in expectation, as to how the top end of the trade should operate and deliver its service.

“Lyndon’s drive is to be recognised as a professional services business, not just the leading scaffolder but the best contractor on site full stop. This is increasingly understood by our customers, and so it should be. At Lyndon we use highly skilled qualified scaffolders, properly supervised, supported by an in-house safety team, 11 in-house engineers and £30 million of assets. We don’t operate from under the railway arches with a few tatty lorries and some gear we have ‘picked up’ along the way. We will continue to talk to our scaffolders, customers and suppliers to make sure we have the best ideas, and when one of our competitors has a better notion we will copy that! We need to be prepared to constantly look for ways to improve. It isn’t easy to change but that’s the only way to ensure we can be here in the long term.

We believe by spreading the message we can encourage our scaffolders to recognise how amazing the structures are they erect, take greater pride in what they achieve and be given the respect they deserve.

“But we aren’t just a body shop providing interchangeable labour. We want to train and develop our employees for the long term. The development takes a long time as formalised training courses are only part of it. Our commitment to quality is more than just sticking someone on a course, we need to prove to our employees we really mean it, and when they need to make a difficult call and stop a job we will support them.

Scaffolders need to provide the desire to be the best scaffolder they can be. Lyndon Scaffolding has made a profit in every one of its 50 years, and just as importantly reinvested those profits into the business.”

Lyndon is continually striving to enhance innovations within the industry, and their new award-winning site inspection app is certainly proof of that as Rob explained:

“The objective was simple; to improve the quality of the inspections we undertake, and by doing this making the scaffolds safer for the user. We have invested a massive amount of time and money in developing a programme which helps the scaffold inspector do his job better. It makes it easier to report faults and provides clear and concise information to our team and our clients.

“In terms of other ideas, we have a few ideas aimed at trying to get our workforce more involved in the business. I believe we can use social media such as Facebook more effectively, and we have already introduced a popular photography competition. Next, we will be launching an innovations competition offering very significant cash prizes.

We believe by spreading the message we can encourage our scaffolders to recognise how amazing the structures are they erect, take greater pride in what they achieve and be given the respect they deserve.

“During 2017, we purchased Taylor’s Hoists, (a premium Alimak only contract hoist business) in response to a growing demand from customers to offer an integrated hoist and scaffold ‘Total Access’ package, which is an exciting additional service.”

The life of any CEO is without question generally a busy one, so I wondered how this inspiring company leader saw his job?

“My role is primarily about setting the overall course, agreeing the long-term goal and then making sure that we all do what is necessary to get there. It’s really easy to lose the long-term vision, and to get caught up in daily issues. My job is to remind us all of what we are trying to achieve over the next 10 years. and beyond.

“Lyndons has a fantastic legacy of expertise, financial resources and respect. As a result of this, unlike some other businesses we don’t live or die by achieving short term budgets and targets. I am in the privileged position of taking the long view.”

2018 is a landmark 50th year for this extra-ordinary business leading the way in so many aspects of the industry. So what plans do they have for celebrating half a century of superb service? Rob said:

“This might seem perverse, but I took quite a bit of persuading before I was convinced that we should mark our 50th anniversary in any way at all. This isn’t because I am grumpy, but the fact I didn’t want anyone to think it was a sign of complacency – a view ‘now we have made it!’ We haven’t got there yet; there are so many areas we want to improve on and a number of innovations I am really excited about.

But a 50th anniversary was too good an opportunity to miss, so we will be holding a dinner in Birmingham where we will take a moment to thank everyone who has helped us get to 50 years, and will help us carry on trying to be the best scaffold company we can possibly be.”

Happy Birthday Lyndon Scaffolding!

This article was first published in the Spring 2018 issue of the ScaffMag magazine. View Issue