Q and A with Mark Cawley of RS Industrial Services

Industry Insights

Q and A with Mark Cawley of RS Industrial Services

25th April 2024

Founded in 2001, RS Industrial Services has grown to be one of the UK’s premier independent industrial services providers.

From facilities in Teesside and Tyne & Wear, the company supports customers with crane and lifting equipment service & maintenance, 27/4 breakdown cover, installation and specialist projects too.

The company offers an extensive range of industrial and safety supplies across all industries – from PPE and safety equipment to electrical parts and fixings. It provides accredited industry training courses which are delivered at its Training and Development Centre and at customer sites.

But despite the success of the company – and awards recognition for its customer service – RS Industrial Services isn’t standing still.

The company underwent a management buyout earlier this year and is powering ahead with a new investment programme.

2024, therefore, is set to be a big year for the North East based business.

We caught up with CEO Mark Cawley to get the inside story…

What does the recent management buyout mean for the company and its future?

The management buyout was backed by a fund dedicated to the North East and Yorkshire of Foresight Group, a leading listed private equity and infrastructure investment manager, and represents a significant milestone for the company, symbolising both continuity and evolution. By building upon the solid foundation established by its founders and making strategic investments in infrastructure and talent, the company is poised to capitalize on new opportunities and navigate future challenges effectively, thereby shaping a promising trajectory for its future success.

RS Industrial Services recently defined its vision, mission and values and is integrating these into the business. How important are these to the company?

It’s vital that as we accelerate and grow the business, we keep hold of our values as these are the things that continue to keep the business successful.

Our values should be clear, not just to our customers but also to our teams who live them every day. The buyout has been exciting, but it’s important that we share our vision, mission and the values we hold close.

What is your approach to recruitment and retention, and how do you get the best engineers on board?

I have worked within industrial services for over 20 years and I don’t think it’s ever been easy to recruit good people! However, a noticeable difference that I’ve seen in the last few years is that people want to work for a business that has purpose and passion. Being competitive in areas such as salaries is important, but people want more now, so giving people that purpose and passion is something we embrace.

The beauty of RS Industrial Services is that it’s an independent business and with the way we’re structured, people can come in and have a long and successful career. You can join as a junior engineer and progress all the way through. For example, our Engineering Director, who was appointed this year, has been in the business for 20 years and started ‘on the tools’, and there are many more similar examples in the company.

And because we’re a business with ambitious growth plans, it’s going to be an exciting journey for both our existing team and everyone who comes on board.

Your three core areas are Cranes & Lifting, Training & Development and Industrial & Safety Supplies – what do these joint capabilities bring to your customers?

Our expertise in cranes and lifting enables us to provide reliable and efficient lifting solutions tailored to our customers’ specific requirements. Whether it’s breakdown, installation, maintenance, or consultation, our extensive experience in this domain ensures optimal performance and safety compliance.

Industrial & Safety Supplies encompasses a wide range of products essential for maintaining workplace safety and compliance. From personal protective equipment to industrial supplies, we provide high-quality products sourced from trusted suppliers, ensuring our customers have access to the tools and resources necessary to uphold rigorous safety standards.

The focus on Training & Development underscores our commitment to empowering our customers with the knowledge and skills necessary to operate safely and efficiently within their respective industries. Through comprehensive training programs and ongoing support, we equip individuals with the expertise needed to navigate regulatory requirements and mitigate operational risks effectively.

By consolidating these capabilities under one roof, we offer a streamlined and integrated solution that simplifies procurement processes and minimises logistical complexities for our customers. Moreover, in heavily regulated industries where safety and compliance are paramount, our comprehensive service portfolio provides peace of mind, allowing our customers to focus on their core activities while entrusting us to manage their safety and operational needs effectively.

RS Industrial Services has picked up trophies in the North East Business Awards for its customer service – what’s the secret?

The DNA of the business is service. We offer a genuine 24/7 service, we will be there straightaway, day or night, whatever day of the week. If a business can’t move something from one part of a manufacturing site to the other part or needs products then everything stops… so that’s where our support is crucial.

We have the biggest facilities in the North East within our sector along with a vast range of parts and products so we can respond very quickly to the needs of our customers.

However, our people are the real difference. We’re a service business and service is about people. Our teams have huge amounts of expertise and experience, so we are able to support every customer right across multiple areas of their business.

Where is the most demand for your services and products coming from?

It is very much coming from the engineering and manufacturing sector, and we serve a very wide range of manufacturing customers, including heavy engineering companies, pharmaceutical firms, foundries and automotive manufacturers.

We’re seeing a lot of demand from the offshore wind sector too. We’ve provided lifting equipment, PPE, workwear and specialist training – including working at height training – to companies operating in offshore renewables. We also work with major multinational offshore wind farm developers, who have been able to tap into our local knowledge and expertise.

Geographically, our sites are very well placed to service key industries and developments in North East England. For example, from our site in Gateshead we’re supporting the automotive cluster around Nissan and the A19, while our Billingham facility is close to the Teesworks development, so we’re engaged with companies who are working on that site.

It’s an exciting time to be in the North East, because the level of investment is significant.

What does the future look like? What is on the horizon?

We’re continue to investment in people, equipment and our facilities, to make sure we stay best in class. We’re investing in the growth of our teams, especially in recruiting additional engineering resource, but also in the development of our teams, for example, through dedicated IOSH training and the development of our experienced management teams. We have apprenticeship schemes in place now too.

In addition, we’re rolling out an ERP system this year, which is our biggest ever single investment in the business and will help us lay the foundations for future growth. This will also allow us to operate more efficiently.

In the future, we will expand geographically, but first we want to meet the demand that’s in our local region – demand that’s being generated by the industries that are growing here. There’s never been a better time to be in North East England!

For more information on RS Industrial Services, visit www.rsis.co.uk