Kevin Griffin: The view from the top

November 2, 2017

 

After four months in the chair, we caught up with new SELECT president Kevin Griffin to find out more about his career, hear his thoughts on apprenticeships and training – and discover how he sees our future as a gatekeeper for Members

 

Hi Kevin. In your last CABLEtalk interview, you spoke of your interest in apprenticeships. Why is that?

 

Maybe I’m biased because I came up as an apprentice, but I think they’re still vital – particularly in the current climate. For a while, apprenticeships were almost seen as a second prize instead of going to university, but people are now beginning to recognise their true value again. Apprenticeships today give you a valuable skill that’s taken years to perfect and that you can take anywhere in the world. Plus you can learn and earn at the same time and gain a constructive qualification. It’s a tremendous launch pad and we should rightly be proud of the part we play in it.

 

So you went through that yourself?

 

I certainly did. I was still at school and knew I didn’t want to work behind a desk, so I applied for an apprenticeship with Chubb. I don’t think there was a huge amount of choice back then – we were in a recession and it was probably my last chance. Luckily I was accepted and it worked out well.

 

How long did it take for you to think: ‘This is the industry for me’?

 

Probably when I got my first wage slip! Back then you were paid weekly in cash and the wages came up from London. In my second week, the postman handed me a packet and when I opened it there were all these notes inside. I just thought: “Wow!” There was something tangible about getting the money in your hand rather it just going into a bank.

 

How did your career progress?

 

After my apprenticeship, I became an estimator, getting into contracts and running jobs from the office side of things. I then decided to set up on my own, and joined SELECT about a year later, in June 1994. Like a lot of firms, I did it because I wanted to give credibility to my business and show that I was doing things the right way. Being a member of an association like SELECT means you’re properly inspected and vetted, so other people know you’ve really got to have your house in order.

 

 Did being a SELECT member help your own business, Logic Systems Fire & Security Ltd

 

Definitely. For example, I’ve never had to do any advertising because the networking side of things helped to develop things dramatically. The SELECT name absolutely helps within the industry – it’s recognised as a seal of approval if you like. We work in conjunction with a lot of electrical contractors and as soon as they see the SELECT name, they know it’s a business they can work with.

 

What’s been the most useful part of being a member?

 

Things are constantly changing, evolving and updating and you can never afford to stand still, so the SELECT training has been invaluable. I speak to people who say: “Why do I need to do this training every three years? It’s ridiculous.” But standards change, equipment changes and you absolutely need refreshers. It’s only when you go on the courses that you start to think: “Wait a minute – I do have gaps in my knowledge.” Technology is changing so fast now. In my own business, CCTV cameras have come on leaps and bounds – things are moving so fast that you just absolutely need to keep pace. Without a doubt, training is the foundation on which SELECT is built. It’s what employers want, and luckily the interaction between SELECT, the colleges and the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) is phenomenal. It’s moving the industry forward and helping to build a solid foundation. As an apprentice, you’re working and also going to college. So you’re not racking up huge debts, you’re learning a trade and you have SELECT’s support the whole way through.

 

What else do you think SELECT Members value most?

 

The back-up and technical advice is invaluable – particularly the helpline. Members know that if they hit a problem, they can pick up the phone and SELECT’s technical knowledge will help them find a solution. I’ve used it myself, so I know its value first-hand. I think our Members see SELECT as the gatekeeper that gives them information and fights their corner – and that’s something we’re determined should continue. With the upcoming IET Wiring Regulations 18th Edition, it’s going to be more important than ever.

 

So what are your aims as president?

 

Firstly, to represent the association when and where we need it. I’ve had a great start and things are now starting to get busy. I really want to drive forward our campaign to highlight the dangers of using unqualified people to carry out electrical work – that’s a huge priority. I’m also looking forward to getting out and about to the branches and meeting and talking to as many people as possible; doing things face-to-face is always how I like to do things.

 

Outside of work, what are your other interests?

 

I go to the gym a couple of times a week and I play a bad round of golf. I also do a bit of walking and have taken part in charity walks, including the WolfTrek in the Cairngorms. It’s a great way to raise money for worthwhile causes.

 

Speaking of causes, the Electrical Industries Charity is something that’s close to your heart isn’t it?

 

It’s a great charity, and I’d really like us to become more involved. It’s here to help people within the electrical industry who have problems or issues, whether you’re an apprentice, an employee or a family member. It does a great job, so I’d certainly like to raise awareness and get the branches involved. I’d like to think we could organise some events that bring Members together and raise money for the charity. It’s something  that I’m really looking forward to being involved with.

 

How much has the digital revolution changed your industry?

 

Alarms and security systems have progressed on the technical side, but the function hasn’t changed much. The size and price have reduced, but things still work to the same principles. The socket and voltage don’t change, it’s just the extra bits they add to them.

 

What ARE the biggest things that have changed in your industry?

 

I would certainly say CCTV. You’re now buying a camera for about a tenth of the price compared to 15 to 20 years ago – and you’re getting a far better picture. You can do an awful lot more with it in terms of zoom etc and the quality is absolutely stunning.

 

Where do you see it going in the future?

 

To be honest, I really don’t know – things are moving so fast. You can now see and do everything on your phone, from banking to watching a live stream of what’s happening in your house. Who knows where we’ll be 20 years?

 

Kevin on the digital revolution

 

How much has the digital revolution changed your industry?

 

Alarms and security systems have progressed on the technical side, but the function hasn’t changed much. The size and price have reduced, but things still work to the same principles. The socket and voltage don’t change, it’s just the extra bits they add to them.

 

What ARE the biggest things that have changed in your industry?

 

I would certainly say CCTV. You’re now buying a camera for about a tenth of the price compared to 15 to 20 years ago – and you’re getting a far better picture. You can do an awful lot more with it in terms of zoom etc and the quality is absolutely stunning. 

 

Where do you see it going in the future?

To be honest, I really don’t know – things are moving so fast. You can now see and do everything on your phone, from banking to watching a live stream of what’s happening in your house.

 

Who knows where we’ll be 20 years?

 

 

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