We had a chat with Jim to find out first-hand what changes he’s seen in his job, the estate and why his company has been based here for so long.
You’ve probably spent more time working at Hillington Park than most so can you tell us when you started and what you did?
I started work on Hillington Industrial Estate as a technical apprentice on the 15th of August 1983. The company was called APV Hall International back then (before it changed its name to J&E Hall) and was based in Cameron Court, the same building I still work in today. We design, manufacture, install and commission air conditioning systems/refrigeration plants for food processing, chemical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, marine, cold storage, district heating, retail and the leisure industries.
I am now J & E Hall’s Senior Contracts Manager and I look after the many contracts that we have across the world.
You’ve shared a picture from outside the office back in 1983 which looks significantly different from now. Can you describe what it was like back then and how the business has changed?
Like most businesses, technology and communication are the big changes in our industry and a lot of what we did back in 1983 has become automated. We still do a lot of work in the marine naval industry, but we now work with the oil & gas and nuclear industries across the world too.
Feeling a bit old here, but back then we had no computers and all the design and drawing work was carried out manually on drawing boards and using first principle, hand calculations. We had around 100 employees and we occupied the whole of the building. Nowadays we only occupy part of Cameron Court and have fewer staff, but it is modern with air conditioning, LED lighting, high speed internet and of course lots of technology that allows us to communicate with clients across the world, quickly and efficiently.
You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve also changed my car since then!
Is there a particular memory that you have from your early years?
Back at the beginning of my career the major factory of Rolls Royce was across the road from our office. At night it was a rush to get out of our car park before the many thousands of their workers started leaving!
And what would you say have been the most significant changes on the estate since the first day you arrived to start your career?
Hillington Park, as its now called, has greatly improved with the new builds and the number of shops, restaurants and coffee shops that are on the estate. It is now looking modern and is kept in a good condition but my memory from when I first started in Hillington Industrial Estate back in 1983, it was showing its age and looking tired.
We know lots of businesses base themselves at Hillington because of its location – near the airport, railway, road network and customers. Is that true for you and was that the same when you first started?
Yes, it is. The business actually moved to offices in the north of Glasgow and on the other side of the River Clyde in 2000 but we returned to Cameron Court in 2010 because of the location of Hillington Park. The decision to move back was all about proximity to the airport and the M8. Some may say we came back to this office because it is very close to my own home, but it was good to return to where I started many years past!