The latest in our Just a Minute profiles features Jim Barrie, general manager for timber preservation at City Gate Construction (CGC) based in Paisley.
How did you get started in the industry?
Throughout my career I have had a connection to housing and construction starting out as a trainee estimator at 19 apart from five years working in the United States.
Biggest professional achievement?
Without a doubt it is growing the timber preservation and rot eradication division of CGC. Our work recently has involved Bellsmyre Housing Association in Dumbarton. We are expecting to grow our connection to housing associations and housing co-operatives substantially in 2017.
Best advice you received?
The importance of teamwork and honesty. This is vital to any organisation big or small. Cohesive and top performing teams with a clear focus on results can achieve just about anything.
What is the most important part of the industry?
Without a doubt it is the regeneration activities of housing providers – something that is so often unseen but nevertheless breathes new life into communities. Housing associations are like anchors in these communities – helping people, holding things together and doing far more than simply collecting the rent. Ones that spring to mind are housing associations in Glasgow such as Maryhill, Govanhill, Glen Oaks and Thenue – all of which do a tremendous power of work in their communities. We have great respect for them.
What do you like most about your job?
Because I’m involved in timber preservation and rot eradication, nothing beats seeing a property restored and the satisfaction of a tenant when a job is done right first time. That’s what we try to achieve at CGC – not just meeting but surpassing their expectations.
Not something I give a lot of thought to as actually quite a positive person with a good team around me. Problems occur within any working environment the trick is to recognise the problem and spend your time focused on the solution where all parties are happy.
What you would most like to change in housing?
In the private sector I’d like to see a National Crusade by all the Governments of the UK on housebuilding. What has been done in the past is simply scratching the surface. There are simply not enough houses for everyone whether that is in the rented sector or those seeking to purchase a home. In terms of social housing I’d like to see housing associations and co operatives get the greater recognition they richly deserve.
What future issues do you see arising in housing?
As everyone knows there will be increasing pressure on the social housing sector so increased support for associations would be my number one priority. We know that local authorities and the Scottish Government already work closely with housing providers to fund new builds. But I’d like to see even more money pumped into this partnership to build new energy efficient homes across Scotland.
Which newsletters do you receive?
I see Scottish Housing News and look forward to it along with Construction Now. I also receive a newsletter from the industry body the Property Care Association which is right up my street being a surveyor. I like things emailed to me in terms of news which might go some way to explaining the answer to one of the following questions.
How would you change Scottish Housing News?
It would be nice to see an occasional feature about the community regeneration activities of selected housing associations. It would have the effect of others learning from one another on what is going in different parts of Scotland and sharing ideas.
Do you read a daily newspaper?
I get my news online by visiting various news sources as I like to get viewpoints from both sides. Newspapers have their own spin on stories and no two titles are the same. The dissemination of news has changed markedly and most young people now rarely buy a paper – choosing instead to get it online. I’m afraid I’m one of those people to blame for falling circulation in the printed versions of our daily press!
Which social media sites do you use?
Like lots of people I have a Facebook page with LOTS of pictures on them such as the ones taken on a recent trip to Mull. I must have taken 600 pictures there! Facebook friends will be pleased (and relieved) to learn I haven’t added them all to my page. I’m also on LinkedIn.
Hobbies and interests:
I have a great love of animals which do so much to enrich people’s lives – particularly dogs. It is true what they say about dogs being man’s (and woman’s) best friends! I also love photography and oil painting.
Favourite holiday destination:
Few things can beat a walk in the Scottish countryside with the dogs. Aren’t we lucky to live in a country which is so stunningly beautiful? So often we take it for granted.
When abroad my favourite locations would be the South of France, the Amalfi coast of Italy, the Swiss Alps and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.