Winvic News

Relationships and people are at the heart of Danny’s business development role and his whole career

Posted on March 6, 2024 in Insights and opinions from our people

As National Careers Week 2024 continues, Danny Cross, our Business Development Director, takes the reins to tell us all about his 31 years in the construction industry, which started with a chance offer in a careers office. Danny quickly realised that construction was made for him and his dedication, values and thirst for knowledge has catapulted him from chain boy to engineer, through site manager, project manager and operations manager and into business development.

If you’re considering a career in construction or are just starting out, we think Danny’s story will be particularly inspiring. Enjoy!

You might think that a career in construction is all about the projects you work on or the companies you work for, but I recall all the people who have guided me, encouraged me and put their trust in me over the years – and vice-versa. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some of Winvic’s people for the majority of my career; for example, I’ve known our Operations Director, Richard Butler, for 25 years and he was the person who offered me a job at Winvic, 16 Years ago. And I’ve worked with Danny Nelson, who is Winvic’s Director of Industrial, Distribution and Logistics, since 1998 when I was a Site Engineer, and he was a site engineer’s assistant or ‘chain boy’ as it was known back then, and that was the role I began my career in.

My dad was an electrician and I had considered going into the police force, but when I left school at 16, I didn’t have any career ambitions. I got a summer job in a factory and when I had money coming in, I didn’t want to go back! However, I was made redundant 6 months later and the careers office sent me down to a site where a small warehouse was being built because they were looking for a chain boy. My interview consisted of being asked to point to where 1 metre was on a tape measure – the next question was ‘can you start tomorrow?’! So, in May 1992 I turned up still not knowing what my new job was about and I remember Martin Giles – who is Winvic’s Pre-Construction Director – telling me to go and set up a total station and tripod. Obviously, I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and without hesitation he gladly explained and showed me everything I needed to know about setting out and more.

An experienced foreman who was in his sixties and lived down the road from me joined that project towards the end and he also took me under his wing. We worked on the next scheme together constructing accommodation at RAF Halton near Aylesbury too, travelling to site together each day. He really was my construction hero and taught me to never pretend to know things you don’t know and to draw upon the experience of the people around you. Unfortunately, he suddenly passed away and I didn’t get to work with him for as many years as I would have liked, but his advice has stayed with me and is just as important today.

I started studying one day a week to gain an ONC in Civil Engineering and then a HNC in Building Studies, but I loved being on site as I learned much more, which is what our apprentices and Year In Industry students always say. I was fast tracked to become a junior engineer and the people around me continued to educate me on everything, from quality assurance on concrete cube testing to reading complex reinforced steel drawings. In 2004, after 11 years with that company, I joined a new firm as a senior site manager. I was quickly recognised as being very able in that role and I pretty much ran a project at Kettering General Hospital, which led to me being promoted to project manager constructing a new shopping centre in my hometown of Corby; this was an exciting prospect and a great project.

That was close to completion when I received a call from Richard Butler, asking if I would like to work at Winvic. It was a difficult decision because I enjoyed working there and could see progression opportunities for my career development. However, in the end, I decided to join Winvic because I knew I would be working with numerous people who I had worked with at the start of my career. They were like my family and that feeling is something that new team members still really notice today, 23 years after the company was formed. I’m proud to have project managed the Suscon Academy in Dartford, which was the first ever BREEAM Outstanding rated education building in Europe at the time and a complex build comprising timber, steel and concrete frames. I was also the project manager on Winvic’s very first multi-room project, which was the Bulwell care home and in 2011 I was promoted to Operations Manager.

Those were a great few years, but by 2016 I wanted a new challenge. Danny Nelson understood my dilemma and offered me the opportunity to become Winvic’s Business Development (BD) Manager. He was certain that my understanding of The Winvic Way, my vast experience and my engineering, site, programme and operations knowledge would provide credibility and drive client wins. I thought if they realise my potential then why not go for it. I felt a bit out of my comfort zone initially, but Danny was right; I could – and can – promote the business with detailed understanding.

The beauty about any career in construction is having transferrable skills and a broad knowledge of processes. While some people are happy with the same role, there are always opportunities to take on new challenges for those that do want them, and Winvic is a very supportive company in this regard. The company also prioritises training, and the executive leaders programme that I undertook was brilliant in terms of understanding the business, myself and successful processes. We’ve worked very hard to put systems in place – for the whole business – on visibility of workload and project tracking as well as stakeholder engagement and obtaining feedback. I’ve been in BD now for seven years and have loved every single minute of it, and I’m proud that I’ve been part of Winvic’s progress and fantastic success.

In 2020 I became the Business Development Director and today our team stands at 13, which includes sector specific BD managers and Heidi Salmons’ marketing, communications and social responsibility team. We all support each other, educate each other and work as one across the whole business – whether a new or repeat client, it’s all about relationships so opportunities don’t always come via BD and that doesn’t matter at all. In a nutshell, our team supports the business and more importantly, the three sector leads – Danny Nelson on The values of the business, The Winvic Way, fully resonate with me and my team and we embrace those values in our day-to-day.

For anyone starting their career, I’d give the same advice as my first foreman gave to me all those years ago – lean on the mentors around you. But don’t try and run before you can walk – be an expert in what you do before you move up to that next step – and always continue to learn and better yourself. If you go out of your way to inform yourself, people will respect you much more. Don’t think that your career path is set up by the role that you trained for or are doing now; from a 17-year-old lad that got made redundant from a food preservative manufacturing factory to where I am now is night and day! Look at those transferable skills, work hard and if you want to be a business development director or a project manager, then you can get there. Your career in construction can be as limited or as broad as you want it to be, I can only guarantee it will be a fantastic ride.

The Winvic Way

The Winvic Way means challenging ourselves to constantly improve our service and our processes in order to deliver competitive advantage for our clients.

Winvic has provided multidisciplinary construction services on a national scale since 2001, and ever since has been fostering relationships with a growing list of public and private sector clients. Known for forging pioneering schemes, excelling across all sectors, and affording flexibility to developers and occupiers alike, Winvic has been built on foundations where expectations are exceeded.

Widely known as the UK’s leading industrial ‘shed specialist’, our expertise spans many areas; civils and infrastructure, build-to-rent, student accommodation, office and commercial, fit out works and specialist sustainable builds, including the fulfilment of turnkey project requirements. Our open approach to schemes of any size allows us to be flexible, we have an enviable record of project delivery and we are committed to delivering an ever improving quality of service and product, responsibly, ethically and safely. That’s just the Winvic Way.

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