DJ Laing

Abertay student gets down to business at DJ Laing Homes

Gemma Wanless at Laing House in Carnoustie

A 3rd year student at the University of Abertay has recently completed a work placement with local housebuilder DJ Laing Homes.

The Dundee Business School at Abertay ran this initiative with companies locally and nationally as part of the students’ course modules. The placement initiative is aimed at providing 3rd year students on the BA (Hons) programmes: Business & Management; Business and HRM; Marketing & Business with real life work experience and to help showcase their practical skills within the workplace.

Gemma Wanless, a student on the Marketing and Business course, recently took part in a ten week placement with the company.

Having a keen interest in the dynamics of a business and the creativity which marketing offered, she decided the Marketing and Business course was the perfect match to develop both aspects further.

Gemma worked alongside DJ Laing’s marketing assistant, Daniel Rosie, who is currently undertaking some large digital and branding projects which Gemma was quick to be involved in. While given the responsibility for managing the company’s social media sites and producing a range of press releases for distribution, Gemma was able to put her theory and knowledge to the test with some practical tasks within the environment of a business.

Gemma had a keen interest and was excited to be involved in a business which was making some significant changes to its marketing strategy. Having also learned the important of marketing and internal and external communication within the workplace, Gemma was quick to settle into the team at DJ Laing.

Gemma commented on her time at DJ Laing: “This experience has made me realise how much we use marketing in our daily lives, directly or indirectly. Marketing influences everyone. It has been interesting to see methods which I was aware of from my studies actually working in the business world. I have enjoyed using certain methods and techniques while realising ‘oh I know about this, I wrote a report on it’.

“I have been made to feel very welcome at DJ Laing and would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to work with the marketing team for the 10 week placement. I would recommend work experience to anyone. I have developed a practical knowledge and gained experience working in an office environment. Their industry requires individuals from all different sectors which makes the experience and company even more interesting.”

Gemma hopes to graduate with honours and is looking forward to a career in digital marketing.

Daniel Rosie, marketing assistant for the DJ Laing Group, said: “The 10 week programme which Abertay organised gave the students exposure to a variety of different industries and allowed them to put their theory of business and marketing into practice.

“It was great to have Gemma join the team here at DJ Laing for her 10 week placement and allow her to get involved in the multiple projects we are currently working on. Myself and the team have been impressed by Gemma and her enthusiasm for the marketing industry. It’s great to hear that she has enjoyed her time here and has been inspired to pursue a career in digital marketing.

“I believe strong partnerships with local universities and colleges are essential for securing the next generation of employees and delivering the work force for the future, here at DJ Laing and out with.”

Sod cutting ceremony marks the official start of 200 home Dundee project

Plans to bring new housing to the Whitfield area of Dundee as part of a “major regeneration initiative” have commenced this week.

Local developer, D J Laing Homes has returned to the area to start work on their latest development and follow the success of the 200 homes they built previously in Ballumbie.

This latest project for the construction of 26 new build homes is part of a masterplan of 97 new houses with 2, 3 and 4 bedroom house styles in 5 varying house designs.

The first properties will be ready to move into later this year.

The 5.34 hectare site at Aberlady Crescent was previously home to the Skarne blocks and Greenfield primary school. More recently the Whitfield area has been upgraded to include The Crescent, a recently opened community Hub and Medical Centre with Ballumbie Primary School all within a short distance.

DJ Laing Homes officially marked the start of their new development at Castle View, Dundee with a Sod Cutting ceremony on 12 April.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of DJ Laing Homes, civil engineering contractor, DJ Laing Contracts, and Dundee City Council’s City Development Department.

Managing director of D J Laing Homes, Karen Nicoll, said: “We are delighted to return to the Ballumbie area 10 years on since our previous development. Our new development will be of a high quality complimenting the new housing stock in Dundee and assisting the further regeneration of Whitfield. With recent news that Help to Buy funding has been extended there is no better time for house buyers to purchase a new home with quality finishings, effortless style and exceptional value.”

As part of their planning consent, D J Laing Homes will make a financial contribution towards the education provision in the Whitfield area.

DJ Laing Homes has also agreed to include public art work that compliments and enhances the development’s amenity area. Green spaces will also be created throughout the site and a new spine road will connect Berwick Drive to Lothian crescent.

Commercial manager of DJ Laing Contracts, Gavin Watson, said: “We are pleased to commence work on this project which has been in the pipeline for a few years.  Starting work on site is great news for our company; providing investment in the local economy and securing employment for our workforce and local sub contractors.”

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.