Jack Lumsden and Tony Carroll have helped shape the landscape of construction in the North East. From the humblest of origins in County Durham, Lumsden & Carroll has gone from strength to strength throughout the past 50 years and following a merger with Deerness Fencing & Landscaping and Dunelm Homes in 1990, continues to thrive as Esh Group. We caught up with some current and former employees to find out what makes the business a success!
Louise Lamb started working at Lumsden & Carroll in 1988 when she left school and is now an integral part of the operation as Group Accounts Manager. She’s seen the company develop through the last 30 years and has fond memories of both Jack and Tony.
“I initially helped out with some filing throughout the summer holiday, and Jack asked if I would like to join the company on a business apprenticeship,” said Louise. “Since then, I have been given the opportunity to progress to the position I am in now.
“The atmosphere was always fantastic. It was really family-oriented and a brilliant place to learn. I was the youngest in the office, and they made me feel part of the team. Jack and Tony played a major role in the office environment. Jack was in the office a lot and he always had time for everyone. I used to have a catch up with Tony over a cuppa when I had to get cheques signed off – he was always out on the sites. My dad always says I’ve got ‘green blood’ because this is what I’ve known since I’ve left school. Even though Esh is a bigger company now, it’s still a really great place to work.”
There aren’t many in the business who share Louise’s service record. Fred Gressmann was there at the beginning though, progressing to Construction Director in two stints with the firm.
“I’ve known Jack most of my life, we are both Esh Winning lads,” said Fred. “I first met Tony on the Broompark estate job, where we were both working for other contractors. I was Lumsden & Carroll’s first employee – I had a car and could drive us to and from the sites in the early days before we had a van.
“It was a good company to work for, and it was always interesting. We had a strong ‘grow your own’ culture and there was a big emphasis on promoting from within. You were judged on your ability, and if you did the job well, you were recognised and rewarded for it.”
The family-oriented nature of the business saw former Purchasing Director Dave Thompson spend 26 years with Lumsden & Carroll before retiring in 2016. He said: “I joined Lumsden & Carroll in 1990. Since the early days back in Esh Winning, Jack and Tony have created a lot of jobs for a lot of people. The company has always had a family atmosphere and good people who I enjoyed working with.
“It was all hard graft, but it was good work. I enjoyed every minute of it and I still speak with Jack each week.”
The community ethos has been a driving factor for Lumsden & Carroll. Since joining the company in 1993, Andrew Pritchard, Technical & Bid Manager, has been part of the family.
“I arrived at Lumsden & Carroll straight from Sheffield Hallam University aged 23,” said Andrew. “I was made very welcome and it quickly felt like a family atmosphere, working with Jack Lumsden and Tony Carroll as well as members of their family and local people from in and around Esh Winning.
“Very quickly it felt like a company that looked after people and as a result a lot of us have stayed with the company for many years/decades, building very strong bonds. The company developed and prospered and offered opportunities for my development and career progression which has provided a good balance of challenge, success, and reward. While we are a much larger company than in 1993, the same culture still applies which was developed with the founding staff many years ago.”
Former Construction Manager Derek Rayner worked continuously for 39 years with Lumsden & Carroll. He said: “I, like many others, was given the opportunity to progress within the company. For a company that has been run for 50 years and is still going strong, Lumsden & Carroll has provided a lot of jobs and provided futures for many people, so I would say that alone is a magnificent achievement.”
As Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Esh Group, Steve Wilkie knows more than most what has gone before, and what is in the future for Lumsden & Carroll.
“I started working at Lumsden & Carroll in 1989, I was 17 and employed straight from school as a Trainee Engineer. I trained on the job and on day release until I qualified with a BSc in Construction Management from Leeds University in 1999, fully supported by the company’s ethos to ‘grow your own’. The support I have been given has played an instrumental part in my career development, I have been given opportunities to progress through different managerial positions which has led me to the position that I’m honoured to be in today.”
When Jack and Tony reminisce, the respect, praise and pride they have for their workforce which they grew year on year shines through. However, it is clear the references are equally as glowing in the opposite direction. The focus and support given to the workforce from the top has helped drive a longevity through to the current day, that is expected to continue for the next 50 years.
Looking back, the humble pair exchange stories about their staff, Jack recalled: “We all worked hard. The people we employed made our lives easier, they did a good job.”
Tony proudly concluded: “Thank you to all the lads and lasses that have worked for us throughout the years.”
I was made very welcome and it quickly felt like a family atmosphere, working with Jack Lumsden and Tony Carroll as well as members of their family and local people from in and around Esh Winning. Very quickly it felt like a company that looked after people and as a result a lot of us have stayed with the company for many years/decades, building very strong bonds.”