Paul Slater, Adam Brooks and Eric Biggs tell Phil Clark what it was like quitting Gleeds, striking out on their own and setting up project management firm APE
How did you start up?
Adam The three of us were project managers for Gleeds in the North-west. We had been thinking about setting up our own company for some time and we all resigned at the end of October last year to do it. Roger Carter, the regional Gleeds partner, was very good about it. He wished us luck – but not too much luck …

Why did you to decide to strike out on your own?
Paul It meant we could have more control for ourselves, that we could cater specifically for clients. It's quite procedural when you're in a bigger business – you have to stay within boundaries. We can be very flexible now, and also guarantee that one of the three of us will work directly on the job.

What's your workload been like in the first year?
Adam A lot of our work has been from clients we had relationships with when we were at Gleeds, such as Belgrave Land and MEPC. The MEPC Birchall Park office development job we have been working on has been a godsend. When that has quietened down there will be other work to do, such as masterplanning, feasibility studies and cleaning up any defects.

Paul It's not been an easy road, but the clients were happy to support us when we started up. You can't ask for more than that. I think if you are starting from scratch in a new business with no work you can get in trouble.

It’s not been an easy road, but the clients were happy to support us when we started up. You can’t ask for more than that

What's been the biggest challenge of forming your own business?
Paul The sales and marketing side has been the biggest challenge. We are having to devote up to a half of our time to getting out in the area and meeting potential clients. The working hours are also very different – you can manage your own time rather than having to go in at set hours.

What are your plans for growth?
Eric Our turnover was £150,000 for the first seven months of trading. We want to grow that by about 75% in the next year. We plan to recruit some new people but we don't have any plans to be big – we don't want to be another Gleeds.

Adam We are looking to diversify, to pick up work in other sectors, rather than concentrating on work in the commercial and industrial ones. We are looking at public sector work, such as schools and healthcare.