July 2016

10 Years & Counting

Barack Obama, J.K. Rowling and Tony Bennett weren’t the only ones toasting a birthday last week. As some of you might have read in Building we’ve been busy celebrating our ten year anniversary. It’s a big milestone for us – and for me personally it’s been a rare chance to pause, take stock and reflect on just how far we’ve come in the last 10 years.

Simon Sinek, (TED) speaker and consultant who popularised the concept of "Start With Why"… said “The challenge of the unknown future is so much more exciting than the stories of the accomplished past...” I echo that. So you won’t normally find me reminiscing about how my dream of building my own business began. But with a decade under our belt this week, I indulged myself in some fond memories.

Before setting up shop in the summer of 2006 I’d enjoyed 20 years in the industry. I’d cut my teeth at, and alongside, some big names; my career had taken me to the bright lights of Jakarta, Dubai and back. I’d seen a great deal – but enough to know I wanted to do things differently. That’s how Symmetrys started – with an ethos there’s never just one solution to any structural challenge. I wanted to go beyond the same old tried/tired design methods and techniques. I knew that could mean doing oneself out of a bigger fee, but going it alone I was quite prepared for that, if it meant doing it right.

In the beginning we were five-strong and focused on private residential projects, as you’d expect for a company of our fledgling status and scale. We worked on projects such as Holland Park refurbs and The Mall retail refurbishments, turning over c. £200,000. Before long we were being invited to look at other types of projects, like World Duty Free and All Star Lanes in 2007, and Enfield Retail Park in 2008.

Fast forward and the last few years have been truly transformational. In the five years to end-2015 our turnover jumped over 500 per cent and in the last two years by almost 100 per cent. Now we’ve set our sights on doubling that again in the next three years.

We know we can, because having built on our own foundations, more of the big retail, commercial and residential developers have become Symmetrys’ clients. Today more people know we’re both hugely capable and geared-up to deliver on those types of projects.

That fledgling five from 2006 is now a team of over 25 structural engineering specialists… and we’re growing. We’ve already extended our converted North London office three times in the last five years, and as reported in Building we’re planning on hiring another 10 people in the coming 12 months.

It’s just as important to me that we also maintain our roots: that ethos which, I believe, is the reason we’re still here today. There’s never one solution to a structural challenge, so we’ll continue to be a collaborative partner who provides the right range of options, without fuss. Wherever we are a decade from now, that much will remain unchanged.

There is no crystal ball of course – and in the current climate the old adage is getting plenty of airtime: uncertainty is the worst enemy of the construction industry. But ours is always at the whim of market forces. It’s how we react – and adapt – that matters. It’s how we lead. There will always be challenges ahead, but in every challenge there is opportunity.

That really comes full circle to our whole ethos. There are always options – and I find that more exciting than ever. The past decade has been an incredible journey and I thank everyone who’s been part of it and the 800+ projects we’ve worked on. Now we’ve come of age and are looking ahead – and there’s plenty to look forward to.

Chris Atkins

Founder and Managing Director