IndEx's Dick Green - a busy year for demolition blowdowns
By Lindsay Gale15 February 2011
Dick Green, MD of UK-based IndEx Independent Explosives Engineers Limited, looks back on the first 12 months of his new company. Despite the challenging economic climate he has been busier than ever, and has been involved with more than a dozen blowdowns in the UK and abroad
The middle of a recession is probably not the best time to start a new company, but this was exactly what Dick Green did at the end of 2009.
One year on and Dick's company, IndEx (Independent Explosives Engineers Ltd), is still going strong.
"After over 40 years' continuous employment - 25 years' military service and 16 years as senior explosives engineer with Controlled Demolition Group (the UK one)- it was interesting to find myself back in the job market," said Dick.
"I was made redundant as part of a cost-cutting exercise at Controlled Group about nine months before they went into administration. Although a number of job offers came through I decided it was a good time to strike out on my own. I believe you have one life and it should be an adventure. My first 'adventure' was during my 25-year army career, which I followed with an equally enjoyable experience (well, most of it) with Controlled Demolition Group. Now it was time for Adventure Number Three."
It was a bit of a gamble for Dick as very few, if any, explosives demolition companies have started up in the last 15 years and he claims he's 'not a natural businessman'.
"I am pleased to say though that during my first year many respected members of the industry were always on hand to give advice when I contacted them," added Dick. "Whether I called John Woodward, Charles Moran, Malcolm Ingry or some of the leading demolition company MDs, they were always available and willing to pass on some of their business knowledge and valuable advice. I believe if you don't know something it is a 'strength' not a weakness to ask)."
Over a dozen blow downs
"I have been lucky enough to be involved with over a dozen blowdowns in my first year, including cooling towers, a hotel, three tower blocks, a number of steel and concrete industrial buildings, a couple of water towers and three and a half chimneys,"continuesDick."(I would like to say the half was planned, but sadly I can't)".
"In its first year, as well as many projects in the UK, IndEx has been to America, the Middle East and South Africa and priced possible future projects in many more places.
"The main advantage of having my own independent company, apart from the obvious of being in charge of my own destiny, is that it has given me the opportunity to work with a number of demolition companies and make good friends both in the UK and around the world - these are colleagues that not only run professional companies, but are also nice people."
15-storey hotel in Qatar
IndEx set off for Qatar in the Middle East in January 2010 to demolish the 15-storey Rydges Hotel for the Emir of Qatar's Private Office.For this job Dick worked alongside Dykon from the USA.
Having spent the last 16 years working as a senior explosives engineer or project manager on numerous explosives projects across the Middle East including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Libya, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, this is a market Dick is comfortable with and keen to work in.
On his return to the UK he teamed up with Phil Lowe and SES Contracts Ltd for a number of prestigious projects including two 175m chimneys and six concrete silos for Erith Group at the Lafarge cement factory in Northfleet, Kent.
In April, following the successful Qatar project, Dick was delighted when Dykon President Jim Redyke invited him to view the explosive demolition of the 65,000-seat Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
"Very few UK-based explosives engineers have experience of such projects and I felt privileged to be there during the preparation and blow down," he said.
Back in the UK Dick was involved in a number of projects throughout the summer, including the demolition of two tower blocks in Scotland with Safedem and a concrete chimney within a live hospital for Carillion and Bath Demolition.
Cape Town cooling towers
"After this I was enjoying some quality time in the garden with my grandson (another benefit of working for yourself) when I received a phone call from Joe Brinkman MD of Jet Demolition in South Africa," added Dick.
"They were tendering for the demolition of a couple of cooling towers in Cape Town. Although Jet is a professional, experienced demolition company they only had experience of five cooling tower demolitions and felt that by adding IndEx to their team and adding our vast experience of cooling tower demolition to theirs they would have a better chance of competing against the other international bidders.
Although not the cheapest on price Jet/ IndEx were awarded the contract on the quality of submission and experience of cooling tower demolition.
In late August the Cape Town Cooling towers came down within their own base area with no damage to nearby buildings, services or roads.
"During the Autumn another tower block in Scotland, a water tower and some industrial building demolition kept us busy," he added,"and along with the opportunity to speak at the World Demolition Awards in Amsterdam, it made 2010 an interesting, rewarding and successful year."
Calling in fellow professionals
Dick says he has been lucky in that since starting IndEx his friend and former work colleague at Controlled Group, Phil Lowe has joined SES Contracts. "By working together we can offer a vast wealth of experience in both the hands-on practical aspects of explosive demolition and the planning and coordination, a side which is sometimes overlooked. Also by adding the knowledge and demolition experience of structural engineer Rob Clarke (R W Clarke Ltd) the team is complete.
"As for 2011, who knows? We have looked at and priced a number of overseas projects and made some good contacts and friends on three continents and within the UK demolition sector. Being a small company we can keep our overheads down and endeavour to offer a fair price and safe, professional service to our clients which we hope will benefit everyone and see IndEx through 2011."