From the start
Having served his time as an electrical apprentice at Nelsons from 1975 to 1978, it wasn’t long before Mike Quinn took the plunge and entered the world of self-employment as an electrical contractor in 1978. With just a handful of staff, trying to get a business off the ground in difficult times, the company operating out of our Liverpool office mainly worked on commercial, factory networks, and maintaining/ installing Walter Kidde fire systems on ships visiting Liverpool Docks.
Our close association with Walter-Kidde led to the development of capability in fire detection and suppression, providing the foundations for future growth. The rush to install non water-based fire protection systems and the use of Halon 1301 to protect stored data in the financial sector provided further opportunities.
Tracking our growth
Following the fire tragedy at Kings Cross in 1987, M.J.Quinn worked alongside London Underground on the upgrade of many systems within their network. Our close association with Wormald Britannia Group (fire systems) led to M.J. Quinn being awarded the prestigious contract for the fire and voice installation at Waterloo International Terminal, which opened in 1994.
Our fire systems business grew from strength to strength which enabled us to further develop our Liverpool office where purchasing, accounts and health & safety where managed at that time. The North of England was coming out of recession and we were ideally located to offer our traditional services of Mechanical and Electrical for; Merseyside Police, NHS, Marconi Electronics, Ford Motor Company, Rolls Royce Engines, MOD and Glaxo.
Naturally, our growth hasn’t all been plain sailing. When Wormald were taken over by Tyco, our delivery model was replicated internally and we were replaced, literally overnight. Undeterred, in 1990/92 we expanded our customer base, working with companies including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and in 1994/95 saw us working with Madam Tussaud’s and the Canary Wharf development, while in the North we continued to expand our portfolio to include general maintenance.
With company-wide determination and a commitment to delivering excellent service, showed us listed at number 94 in the 1998 Financial Times Fast Track 100, a list of the UK’s fastest growing companies, with over 60% annual growth. Our company sales rose from £1.1m in 1994 to £5.3m in 1997. In 2002-2006 M.J. Quinn were awarded part of the CONNECT contract, a 4 year £30m project to install the LAN for London Underground. Determination to enter the maintenance arena was finally paid off when we were awarded the Fire Maintenance contract for Tube Lines in 2006 and the Mechanical, Electrical Fire and Signage for London Underground in 2009, which now affords us the position of the sole Fire Maintainer on the London Underground Network.
Competing in a recession
A strong and structured focus from a re-shaped management team, has meant our strategy over recent years is beginning to pay off. Developing alternative markets for our business was key to survival, in what has been a very challenging time for all companies in our sector. Our expertise now allows us to operate in several key areas; Infrastructure/ transport, communications, energy efficient power, lighting and cooling. With further blue chip companies now added to our long list of clients.
Our people, then and now
Today, with over 1,200 employees, we still strive to provide a small company feel, through the long term relationships we maintain with all our customers. Through our own training facilities, over 1,000 staff have been trained or up-skilled since Christmas 2010. Our portfolio continues to expand in order to meet changing customer needs – carbon reduction and improved telecommunications are currently in high demand. With the recent opening of our new control centres at both London and Liverpool offices and our bespoke asset management system now up and running, we face the future with renewed optimism.