Mike Turner, Managing Director of Robertson Timber Engineering, has been with us for over 30 years. He originally started as a joiner on a 1-year YTS programme in the timber workshop in Elgin with Robertson Timber Products, now Robertson Timber Engineering.
“I applied to 8 companies for Apprenticeships – Robertson was the only one to respond,” he explains.
There then followed a 3-year apprenticeship. I was employed in the workshop with 30 other joiners. I was learning on the job as well as studying in Carpentry and Joinery at Moray College. After that I was transferred from the workshop out onto construction sites to get more experience.”
At school, I was encouraged towards engineering, as it was deemed in some quarters to be more academic. But joinery was what attracted me and while working on site, I continued to attend college and completed several courses that helped my career progress.
An ONC in Construction Management allowed me to get a role as Joiner Foreman at age 21 and from there I moved up to General Foreman.
Robertson Timber Engineering has 4 apprentice joiners in the team.
Calum Catto and Cameron Kenn joined in 2013. They started out working on timber kits, assembling floors, and cutting OSB and plywood in our timber engineering facility in Elgin.
Their mentor is Willie Laing, who himself has progressed from working on the benches to his current role of Production Manager.
“Calum did really well in the first 2 years of his apprenticeship in the factory and at college. He was nominated for Robertson’s Apprentice of the Year in 2015 and since then, he and Cameron have been out on site.
It’s important to get the practical experience of things like erecting timber kits, and the first and second fix joinery. Robertson is involved in a great range of projects, so there’s the chance to get a lot of variety, ranging from housebuilding to large multi-million-pound projects.”
Willie said that Calum has the potential to take on a supervisor or manager role in the future should he want to, and that anyone with a good attitude and the urge to learn can progress. “I’d like to make use of his skills in the factory for a few years first, though!”
Willie’s own son is also pursuing a career the construction industry. Macaulay Laing joined Robertson as an apprentice Joiner in 2015 along with Callum Wood.
Willie said that Macaulay was keen to adopt a hard-working attitude and start working. He was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and with a little bit of encouragement, he applied to Moray College. He is getting on well in the classroom but prefers the hands-on, practical learning of the factory.
“Macaulay is supervised by one of the foremen or experienced Senior Assemblers. He and Calum work on the benches, helping to assemble parts in sequence such as the timber kit panels and floor sections.
They are in their second year of learning PDA Carpentry and Joinery Level 7 (Adv Craft L3).
“At Robertson, anyone can apply themselves and progress. This culture flows down from the top. The leaders, Derek Shewan (COO) and Bill Robertson (Executive Chairman and founder), originally started in a similar position so they encourage that we support people throughout the business. If you look for opportunities, you can grab them with both hands.”
Lauren Fraser works as a trainee timber frame designer. She joined Robertson straight from school and wanted to do design at university but was not sure how to achieve her career. With us, she is doing her degree on day release – one of the many ways to get qualified. Lauren was shortlisted for Robertson’s Young Person of the Year Award in 2016.
Mike also got a degree- equivalent qualification after completing a DMX Construction Management course with CIOB at Inverness College in 2004 and 2005. “This gives you chartered status and along with it, a more professional, leadership-oriented mindset. The CIOB offers plenty of continued professional development that allows you to progress your career from roles to senior positions and management roles.”
He progressed from Senior Project Manager to General Manager and ultimately his current role of Managing Director, getting a nomination for CIOB’s UK Construction Manager of the year along the way.
“If you are looking to progress in your career, put yourself forward and you will get opportunities. You may start in one role, but there are chances to do other things at Robertson. Working in a large company, you can get opportunities to be exposed to different teams and disciplines. I’m not unique, there are lots of other people have followed this sort of path.”