Posted on Monday 26 November 2018 by Ulster Business

Les 1

Name: Les McCracken

Position: Managing director, McCue Crafted Fit

How did you get to the position you are in today?
I’m a big believer in work ethic. When I was young, 15 or so, I had a summer job on a farm. I would have milked 150 cows, morning and night, in addition to general duties around the farm. I was probably working 70 hours a week at that time, plus cycling five miles back and forth. It has stood me in good stead throughout my life. If you apply yourself, you can do anything.

What have you found the most challenging during your years of business, so far?
In short, people. They are the greatest assets to a company but they can also be the biggest challenge. I’ve been fortunate enough to build a fantastic team around me at McCue but that has taken time. I’ve been here over 30 years and we’ve organically grown over that period from 16 employees and a turnover of £600,000 to 120 employees and £35m.

It is also worth noting that in our sector there is a lack of skilled people, when you train them up some leave, which is disappointing but you have to train them and hope they stay. More must be done to engender the younger generation in to these skilled jobs. Too many are still going aimlessly in to third level education not knowing what they want to do, whereas they can earn as you learn in a trade, and that is much needed across the manufacturing sector.

How would you describe your management style?
I like to think I have a good management style, most of the time I’m very easy going and I do believe in autonomy. I expect those with responsibility to be capable and willing to do their job to the highest of their ability. I also have an open door policy allowing anyone to come and discuss problems but please bring with you a solution too.

This allows my team to complete projects around the world from Vienna to Milan to Stockholm. We’ve been very fortunate to work with great brands, both in retail and hospitality, and on some fantastic projects from Ten Trinity Square in London to Danske Bank in Belfast and around Northern Ireland.

What would you change if you could go back and do it all again?
Of course, who wouldn’t say things could be done differently, and better? Nobody is perfect, there’s always room for improvement. If I was to work until I was 100 years old, I would still learn something new every day.

Have you done it all on your own?
No, of course not. Who does? After 30 years I’ve a fantastic team who are very competent and trustworthy. But it has taken hard work and graft to get here. Today is very different to 30 years ago and for me I chose the right path. Today, you can enter this sector via a trade, an apprenticeship or a university background; it’s about the right fit and enjoying what you do.

How would you like your business to be remembered?
McCue Crafted Fit is bigger than I. It’s been going for 65 years and providing unquestionable quality work. Like Jimmy McCue, who set this company up, when I choose to go, I hope to be remembered as a good leader who left the company in the best possible shape.

Thirty years is a long time to be managing director and I have seen many changes in skill base, technology from hand drawn floor plans to full colour 3D fully explosive plans. It certainly has been an interesting three decades or so. I’d also like to note that McCue weathered the recession very well. I took some strategic decisions in 2008 and 2009, which ensured we not only held our own, but grew as a company.

What piece of advice would you give to a 20-year-old you?
Be patient. Time will come. Don’t think you know everything, as each day you’ll learn something new.

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