(from left) Richard Crowther, Kier Construction; Gordon Hunter, hub South West; Hayley Shevill and Amy Monaghan (Hayley’s sister) from Arvill Plant & Tool Hire at hub South West Building for Growth programme graduation ceremony

Former primary school teacher Hayley Shevill on life as a commercial director in the family business at Arvill Plant & Tool Hire.

I completed a 4 year Bachelor of Education degree at Glasgow University in order to work as a primary school teacher. I did that for 4 years before joining the family business.

I loved teaching but found the real fire in my belly after working for my dad during my summer holidays as the field sales rep for the company. I decided to make the leap in 2014 when I chose to leave the teaching profession and become a full-time member of the Arvill team. I worked for 2 years as the field sales rep, where I fought for new business opportunities whilst familiarising myself with the construction industry and was appointed for the position of commercial director at the end of 2016.

Highlight the biggest projects you have been involved in

I was hugely proud of winning awards for being the ‘Most Passionate Hirer’ in Scotland in 2015 by the HAE (Hire Association Of Europe) and becoming a finalist for ‘Lanarkshire’s Best Family Business’ in January 2018.

Also, for being wholly responsible for winning business and becoming a supplier to major contractors such as family owned civil engineers I & H Brown, UK and Ireland-wide builders and civil engineers Farrans Ltd, one of the largest privately owned civil engineering firms – Barhale Ltd, and blue chip companies such as Morrison’s Construction and Malcolm’s Construction.

Where would you like to be in future?

I hope to be at the forefront of the business, alongside my sister, with a real focus on developing our team as we continue to grow our business and with a vision of opening up future depots across the U.K. It’s a family business, and our aim has always been to be the UK’s premier plant hire company, providing an incomparable, reliable and competitive service; always with a smile.

What are your thoughts on your sector in terms of the number of females working in general and in higher positions?

I think there is a real lack of females within the construction industry, particularly at higher levels, and even more so when it comes to the boardroom. Personally, I would have had no interest in getting involved in this industry if it hadn’t been for our own family business and the opportunities and experience that my connections provided me with from a very young age.

I think there should be a stronger emphasis within schools to encourage both girls and boys to gain work experience within the sector; in order to showcase the benefits and scope for success within the industry. It’s important that everyone gets to see what they can achieve in construction, not just those who have a family connection.

Could more be done to encourage women into construction?

Definitely. We all have our own part to play in making the Construction Industry a more attractive and accessible sector for young women. Schools and local businesses within the industry could get together to arrange career talks within schools or day-trips to sites and depots in order for young people to gain experience and become familiar with machinery and plant & tool hire.

I think big corporations could also do more in terms of how they encourage young people, particularly young women into the construction industry, as well as look at the ratios of men to women in their own hierarchies.

What has Arvill Plant & Tool Hire done to facilitate this?

We have actively sought after young people (particularly young women) through the ‘Forward Training’ programme funded by North Lanarkshire and in 2013 we put a young woman through the apprenticeship programme, who continues to work with us to this day.

She has garnered experience in various roles within the company such as administration, invoicing, Health & Safety training and is now currently front of house at the hire desk, dealing with customers and suppliers on a daily basis. As former school teachers, my sister and I also try to do as much as we can in terms of reaching out to schools during career weeks to offer our services and a chance to engage with children at every age and stage to make them aware of the opportunities within our industry.

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.