It could all have been so different for Lee Creese, had he not gone with a suggestion to apply for a job at a firm of architects on the off-chance it might interest him.
The firm was Roberts Gardner Ltd, which would become one half of the highly regarded Roberts Limbrick, and Creese began a journey in the technical side of the construction industry that saw him find his forte – although not as an architect.
It was building surveying that suited his attention to detail and personable nature, and after forging a career in a leading UK giant of its sector, he took another left turn.
It was a decision that led him to co-found one of the most exciting firms in its sector, Six Property Consulting – experts in building and quantity surveying and project consultancy and a disruptor in a profession no stranger to long hours and burn-out.
Creese, who jokes the only thing he really ever wanted to be was a footballer, rubbishes the idea Six Property Consulting was the culmination of some long-term career masterplan: ‘I had left school and literally did not know what I wanted to do, so went to the Job Centre.
‘When I spoke to a careers advisor they asked ‘what are you interested in?’, I said I liked drawing and buildings and they pointed me towards a vacancy and I got the job.
'To work for such a good business, although it was much smaller at the time, was really fortunate.’
Post Roberts Gardner, as a building surveyor, Creese began to climb the corporate ladder, but the higher he went, the more he wrestled with the culture – to the
point he shocked senior staff at one of the UK’s biggest firms by saying ‘no
thank you’ to the invitation to try for partner.
‘I seem to have an aversion to a suit and tie,’ he joked.
Then came a chance conversation with Elliot Dinsdale, who was a partner at the same firm, and a realisation they shared the same vision.
‘There was a lot of change. The firm was growing rapidly and felt very volatile. We both felt we were pretty much running a business anyway; we were running a department, handling the profit and loss account, but we didn’t feel satisfied,’ recalled Creese.
Their vision; a property surveyor built on the quality of its work, on good relationships with its clients, that also allowed for a work-life balance, became reality in Six Property Consulting.
That partnership was also joined by Dee McCarthy, now Six Property’s co-owner, a fellow director at Six and one of those licensed to operate its drones – just another tool of a modern building surveyor’s trade. She and Creese are also partners outside work. The couple have two children.
As the business developed, like everyone in the building sector, Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge. Six continued to fare well, but just as the UK was leaving the lockdowns of 2022 and the business was about to launch its Cheltenham office, the team was rocked by tragedy –the death of Elliot Dinsdale.
‘It was, and still is, very difficult,’ said McCarthy.
‘We found a piece of paper recently from one of the early meetings with Elliott about what sort of as business Six should be; it was all about values and about quality for clients. It was about attracting quality staff and it was achieving an incredible working environment.’
She added: ‘When you look at the business now. We still feel like this is his business.’
Which is why only now has the firm started to shout about itself and its Cheltenham office, in Creese's home county. And it is that precious culture and foundations of the firm that has been key to the firm’s success, and helped it attract staff.
The business has just formalised a four and a half day working week, with Fridays reserved for staff to come together to discuss the business, share ideas and best practice and tidy up loose ends.
It is an approach that is working for clients who appreciate the close working relationships, ease of face-to-face communication and dynamic approach, with work for Six Property Consulting now expanding outside of its core public sector work.