DJ Laing

Strategic decisions deliver positive results for DJ Laing Group

David Laing, chairman of the DJ Laing Group

The DJ Laing Group has reported an increase in profits following a loss in the previous year in its civil engineering, housebuilding and recycling operations.

The firm attributes the significant increase in profit to a number of key strategic changes made across the group’s operational activities over the last two years.

In October 2015 the waste processing operations at Gourdie, Dundee was sold to the NWH Group and this was followed by the sale of the wood processing activities at Petterden, also in Dundee in May 2017. The remaining activities within the recycling operations will complement the other areas of the group’s activities whilst allowing the management to focus on their core strength areas which have been key to the group’s previous success.

These significant disposals have also been complimented by other, less radical, but equally important strategic changes to the group.

Within the civil engineering division, a decision was made to reduce the level of activity in exchange for focussing on projects which would improve profitability. This, the firm said, has resulted in DJ LAING (CONTRACTS) LTD remaining competitive within the market and preserving the core team with an increased focus on providing an excellent service to new and existing clients in all practices areas, including new roads and infrastructure.

The moves have also been supplemented by an increased build programme within the house building division due to increased confidence within the local housing market. These decisions have allowed the group to focus on working with key clients and deliver high quality work which the groups’ reputation has been built on.

Gross profit margins have improved as have net profits despite turnover falling 22% and 5% year on year.

The enhanced level of activity in house building division in the Dundee and Angus areas, coupled with a positive outlook for the construction market generally, the directors remain optimistic for the year ahead.

David Laing, chairman of the DJ Laing Group, said: “Our profits have improved greatly this year, driven primarily by a number of key strategic changes made across the group’s operational activities over the last two years. Our board of directors had recognised that our previous business operations were not a sustainable long term business model. A decision was made at the expense of turnover, to concentrate on our core strength areas (house building and civil engineering) in Tayside and Fife rather than taking on work which had lower margins further afield.

“We are committed to improving the efficiency of our operations that will ensure the long term future of the Group and provide stability for our trusted workforce. The support and commitment demonstrated by the DJ Laing team to provide a quality product and the best possible service to our clients has ensured that our business has remained resilient and competitive within our industry sectors. It is this dedication that will drive our business forward to greater success.”

D J Laing Homes celebrates 30th anniversary

Some of the D J Laing team at the Laing House headquarters in Carnoustie

Some of the D J Laing team at the Laing House headquarters in Carnoustie

Architects have paid tribute to D J Laing Homes as the firm celebrated 30 years of building new homes in Dundee and Angus.

Part of the D J Laing Group which was established by David and Dorothy Laing as a civil engineering contractor in 1975, the business diversified into housebuilding in November 1986 and waste recycling in 1992.

The company currently employs 100 team members and 40 local sub contractors.

Managing director David Laing said: “The success of our company relies on our skilled workforce consistently achieving high standards and we are committed to developing their skills to provide an outstanding quality product for our clients.”

D J Laing Homes’ first project was the refurbishment of two cottages at Long Row, Easthaven. Since then, the company has built over 600 new homes on 25 new housing developments in Carnoustie, Dundee, Letham, Brechin and Arbroath.

The company’s largest development to date was at Ballumbie in Dundee where 223 brand new homes were built from 1999 to 2012. The development proved to be so popular that some house buyers queued up for up to a week following a release.

In 1999 the company carried out extensive work on a former jute mill which was in an extremely dilapidated condition and transformed the building into its headquarters, now known as Laing House. This building enjoys a panoramic view of Carnoustie’s championship golf course and won an Angus Design award for the building’s design by local architects, the Voigt Partnership.

Heinz Voigt, director of the Voigt Partnership, said: “In 1991 we grasped the opportunity with both hands to work with D J Laing as we recognised their drive and ambition to grow into the renowned business they are today. In the early years we had a lot to prove to Dave Laing but his risk with us has matured into a lasting relationship which we still value today and we are still as passionate in achieving the goals set by D J Laing today as we have been over all these years. Their homes division has grown in stature since their tentative venture into the Housing Development Market experimenting with innovative design and construction techniques and today they can pride themselves in providing quality homes for their customers to live in and enjoy.

“We look forward to the next 30 years where client and friendships have merged into a lasting and valued relationship working together in order to produce the homes of the future. We wish DJ Laing Homes every success in achieving their goals and high standards for the years to come.”

D J Laing has also worked in partnership with Angus Housing Association in providing 74 much need affordable homes in Carnoustie, namely 1 and 2 bedroom flats and 2 and 3 bedroom homes.

Bruce Forbes, director at Angus Housing Association, said: “Since 2004, Angus Housing Association has enjoyed a very positive and constructive working relationship with D J Laing Homes. Together, we have built over 70 affordable houses for rent in Carnoustie which have made a significant contribution to meeting housing need in a pressurised market area. We hope to build on this relationship in the coming years to deliver more homes for rent, especially as D J Laing Homes is a local company which like us, has genuine roots in the communities they work in.”

With a healthy land bank the company’s future workload looks secure.

D J Laing’s latest development at Malt Loan – the former Paul’s Malt site – is currently proving popular in Victoria Street, Carnoustie. A planning application has been submitted for the next phase providing thirty seven 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes which is due to commence in early 2017.

A planning application has also been submitted for a new private housing development at Aberlady Crescent in Dundee comprising of 96 units. This development is due to start in January 2017 and will offer 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes for entry from the summer of 2017.

D J Laing’s vision for Carnoustie may soon be realised if planning permission is approved for the 24 acre business park and 274 homes at Upper Victoria/Pitskelly. This development will provide much needed business industrial units on the edge of town close to existing infrastructure.

It will also allow the regeneration of the Maltings and Panmure Industrial Estate site to relocate to a new modern purpose built business park and reduce HGV traffic in a residential area. But most of all, these proposed developments will continue the business for future generations and safeguard local employment.

DJ Laing fined £32,000 after employee had legs crushed

DJ Laing group sales director Karen Nicholl was at Forfar Sheriff Court for the verdict

DJ Laing group sales director Karen Nicholl was at Forfar Sheriff Court for the verdict

Angus civil engineering firm DJ Laing (Contracts) Ltd has been fined £32,000 over an accident that left a 17-year-old employee permanently disfigured and facing arthritis in his legs, The Courier has reported.

Connor Watson was struck by a section of concrete retaining wall during work done by DJ Laing as part of the Arbroath Flood Prevention Scheme in September 2013.

The company appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted failing to take reasonable steps to prevent Mr Watson’s injury on September 26 that year.

DJ Laing appeared under an indictment brought by the Health and Safety Executive, following the accident at Denside culvert, Letham Grange.

The firm had been awarded an Angus Council contract to work along the Denside burn, which feeds into the Brothock Water, for a fee of £15,977.

It was to replace a pipe at a railway arch belonging to the former Arbroath to Forfar Railway.

A nearby garden had reported flooding and the local authority had decided to carry out work to prevent further occurrences.

The court heard Mr Watson’s father Gavin was the contracts manager for the site and had expressed “concerns” over whether the infill was secure before the accident.

He had asked the council about details of work done at the arch in 2003 but they were unable to provide a full brief.

The decision was taken to remove a “letterbox” of blocks toward the bottom of the structure, to allow gravel to flow out due to pressure.

Mr Watson had been removing blocks with a handheld electric drill and had removed two blocks before a colleague came to assist with a hammer.

On removing a fifth block, the wall gave way and its 0.46 tonne weight fell on Mr Watson’s legs.

Specialist fiscal depute Gavin Callaghan said: “Mr Watson was crushed and trapped by a section of concrete wall in the work, as directed by his employer, and suffered serious injuries as a consequence…

“He had played a large amount of football but is unable to do so.

“He is unable to run and he has been told he will not be able to play football again…he will have arthritis by 30.”

Solicitor for DJ Laing, Mark Donaldson, said the company was “deeply regretful” for the accident.

“The company fully accept that, not having received the information (about the wall) they should have refused the job,” he added.

Mr Donaldson said a combination of “experience and pragmatism” had led employees to undertake work, which was described as a “dangerous assumption” by Sheriff Pino Di Emidio.

Mr Watson returned to work in May 2014 and is currently in receipt of benefits, but has been offered a job on his return.