Gloucestershire business lessons: Why starting on the shop floor can be so invaluable

In the sixth in our ‘business lessons’ interview series, in partnership with Nimble Elearning, we speak to Sam Carter, joint managing director of EG Carter, about how starting from the shop floor and working your way up can provide invaluable lessons.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Sam Carter, centre, and Thomas Jones, of EG Carter, pick up the Growth Hub-sponsored Business of the Year award at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards 2021.

It’s easy to presume the company boss has always been a boss, or if it is a family firm, the progression to the top job was inevitable, but that was not the case for Sam Carter of building firm EG Carter.

Carter only moved into his current position, joint managing director of the Gloucester-headquartered construction business with brother Joshua, in January 2022 after working his way up from the ‘shop floor’ of the business.

It is a journey he describes as invaluable in a profession that is as complex as it is fast-moving, where each trade speaks its own language yet everyone needs to communicate and understand one another to finish the job on time and budget.

‘For me, working for a family construction firm, the best advice I can give anyone is to spend at least your first year in the industry on-site,’ said Carter, who talked to SoGlos as part of our Gloucestershire business lessons series compiled in partnership with online training provider Nimble Elearning.

Among other projects, the fourth generation family business is currently involved in the high-profile development, The Forum, transforming Gloucester city centre.

‘It was lucky, I started working on a site of 12 houses, learning from ground zero, doing anything that needed to be done.

‘I never thought just because I had an education that I could go straight into the office. I was on the ground, getting my hands dirty.

'I then spent two and a half years on site after that as a site supervisor and then site manager, learning about dealing with people.

Sam Carter (left), with chairman Michael Carter (centre) and  fellow joint managing director Joshua Carter.

‘It also helped teach me how to speak to tradespeople in a knowledgeable way, to understand the kind of construction details they are concerned with – right through to the importance of what is happening in the football and rugby.

‘Then there is learning to speak to people like the health and safety executive and how to understand them. That was all brilliant for me. It was about beginning to learn about the craft involved in the industry, and to see the bigger picture too.

‘If you are working as part of the team in construction and someone joins as a project manager or a decision maker who directly affects you, there is nothing more frustrating if they do not understand the demands on everyone and the aims of the project.

‘If you have an experienced manager who you can talk to and who hears your frustrations and is prepared to help get things done, it makes all the difference.

‘That is all part of the challenge and when you understand what is going on you can resolve the issues and make sure the business delivers.’

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