60 seconds with Access North Structures’ MD, Berenice Northcott
Summarise your role in one paragraph
I have a fast-paced, hands-on involvement in the business. I wear lots of different hats and cover everything from communicating with rope access teams on sites throughout the UK, to planning and quoting for projects, coordinating marketing campaigns, and developing colleagues – the list goes on.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love the variety, but also feel a real sense of pride building things from scratch and seeing people flourish – it’s brilliant to complete a job and receive great feedback on it, for instance. Now, when new enquiries come in, it’s truly a credit to our reputation, and shows we’re all pedalling in the right direction.
Which has been your favourite Access North Structures project to date?
It’s difficult to choose, as we work on so many prestigious structures in different sectors. I love building long-term relationships, especially with clients such as Fantasy Island, where we can get involved from the start of such an exciting project. Elsewhere, having worked with clients like Butlin’s for years, we’re continually having to adapt to new challenges, but, because we sustain our energy levels, we can really see the benefits of our ongoing maintenance work. Not all jobs are so planned out though, of course, and you often can’t beat the adrenaline rush that comes with assembling a team to tackle a last minute complex job within a tight timescale. You only have to look at our work for one of the world’s biggest cruise liners, to see what I mean.
The phone rings and it’s your dream enquiry – name the client/contract…
There are many, but I’d say Dubai airport, as I’m going through there shortly – I’ve seen rope access teams cleaning it before, and I bet that when they get to one end they have to start all over again because of the dusty climate! Blackpool Tower would also be fun, and a bit closer to home.
What do the next 12 months hold in store for the company?
We have an exciting year coming up, and are currently recruiting for a new project manager on the back of 250% of growth over last 6 months. Now, with our excellent team structure and systems in place, we’re very much geared up for the next chapter of our story. We also have a new look website, PR campaigns and brand revamp coming soon – so watch this space!
You’re based in Huddersfield – how does that location work for your business?
The central location is very convenient, as it means we can work on jobs everywhere from Southampton to Edinburgh. We’re truly based in the heart of the UK, with easily accessible motorways, and nearby airports if we’re required to work overseas.
Does everyone understand the role that rope access can play in UK industry?
Within the industry, facilities managers tend to be aware of rope access solutions and the benefits they can bring. For those who are less aware, it’s often because they haven’t procured the services before so they don’t know of a suitable supplier. In related sectors, such as school maintenance, FMs are perhaps more familiar with other work at height alternatives such as scaffolding or powered access machinery, but it’s a very competitive market, where we compete very well, especially on quality and service.
What does it take to become a height expert? (other than the ability to get over acrophobia!)
Rope access is simply the way our IRATA-trained technicians get to work! Once they’re in position and connected via two points, it depends on the job at hand – that’s why we have a multi-disciplined team, who tackle everything from repairs to cleaning. Our guys are always conscious of what’s beneath them, and so they embrace the adrenaline and learn to manage it, so that the work can be completed efficiently and safely. They are great problem solvers too, which is essential when navigating routes around diverse and unique structures.
Did you ever think, when you were little, that you’d be at the helm of a company like this?
Growing up, I never had a route mapped out for my career, but looking back, I didn’t have any barriers either. Having an open mind and a drive to make things happen has been important, and I’ve always done what I enjoy. I really think success stems from being happy in what you do.
Which 3 words would you hope clients would use to sum up Access North Structures?
Forward-thinking, transparent and professional.