Exactly one year ago we held a party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of McGill’s acquisition by United Capital. Taking over Affinity Business Centre for the day, we shared cake and stories, talking about the journey we had all been on together over the last year.
I recalled standing in the McGill building– what is now a very busy Affinity Business Centre – keys in hand, back in March 2019. It was the day we took ownership of the company, bringing it out of administration. I was excited to become part of the McGill legacy that has been so well-known in Dundee for more than four decades – and I was all too aware of the rocky road ahead. There was a lot to think about and plan for: we knew that the company needed significant infrastructure investment; that financial prudence must be our attitude in the months ahead; that we urgently needed a board of Directors to help turn plans into solid action.
With a group of expert Directors on board we set to work stabilising McGill, by underpinning it with infrastructure, investment, and business best practice that had been sorely lacking. We didn’t have time to mess around: every process, every system, every role that wasn’t fit for purpose was booted out the door. Instead, we focused all our efforts on turning McGill around. We got the right people into the right roles (in many cases we brought the right people back into their roles), and we tendered for contracts and began to win a number of them. We provided guidance and support, and McGill began to pick itself up, moving on from administration and into recovery, with the right leadership at the helm.
In March 2020, our one-year acquisition anniversary party marked a milestone we could all be proud of. However, none of us realised that it was the last day we’d all be in a room together for some time.
On March 23rd everything changed. As lockdown was enforced across the country, we had to make the right decisions at pace: sites had to be carefully closed down for our customers, most of our staff had to be furloughed; and we had to retain a core team of staff who were willing and qualified to attend essential work – emergency call-outs, for example, in care homes where warden call and door entry systems had to be maintained.
For businesses all over the country, this was obviously devastating. For McGill, so fresh out of administration, it could have been an absolute body blow. However, everyone at McGill from top to bottom, and including the United Capital group, had the same attitude. We all chose to make the most of the lockdown, by focusing on fixing infrastructure and getting ready to continue our recovery when the economy opened up again.
And we did – during lockdown McGill was appointed to a number of frameworks with Govanhill Housing Association, Falkirk Council, and Loreburn Housing Association. Further contracts were awarded by Living by Robertson, Caledonia Housing Association, and I-Flair, a housing consortium in the west of Scotland. The closing weeks of 2020 were busy and exciting: McGill was inundated with good news, and has begun a serious recruitment drive in response.
Against all odds, McGill has consolidated its recovery during the pandemic. In an industry which has been hit hard – so much so that one in 8 companies fear they might fail in the next three months – that’s incredible. It’s a testament to the dedication and practical optimism of everyone involved, from the growing number of employees to McGill’s many loyal clients and partners. McGill is a resilient company now, capable of weathering the challenges of this difficult industry, in these immensely challenging times.
To all at McGill, I want to say how proud I am of what we’ve accomplished together in the last two years. For any company, coming out of administration is an exhausting uphill climb; doing it during a pandemic should have been impossible. Your willingness to embrace change and your ability to get your heads down and get the job done, no matter what, is exactly why McGill is such a well-regarded name right across Scotland. We’ve already proved people wrong in lots of ways; let’s continue to build on what we’ve achieved together with our well-known ambition and enthusiasm.