It has been 82 years since the FMB was established in London and the FMB’s member base has spread a long way since then. Over 600 miles. Back in 2002 a cluster of building contractors based in and around Shetland Islands capital, Lerwick joined the FMB. Since then FMB staff and other members have visited the archipelago to listen to and learn from members who deliver construction services 150 miles away from Norway.
It's been five years since I visited members in Shetland. Yes, the pandemic disrupted plans but a trip to catch up in person with the dozen FMB member companies on Shetland was well overdue. FMB Scotland Board member Peter Tait of D.I.T.T Construction and his colleague James Johnston got me a speaking slot at the Shetland Construction Training Group’s AGM. Here I was able to update everyone with news on the FMB’s work, our business support services as well as meet contractors who aren’t (yet I hope!) FMB members. I was impressed by the volume of training undertaken by the training group and the participation of our members on the group.
Building 60 Degrees North
The weather was fair and very calm (the formidable winds which frequent the isles were absent) as I toured some of the construction and house building projects our members are delivering. I was impressed by the size and high-quality finish to the houses constructed by FMB member E & H Building Contractors Ltd for Hjaltland Housing Association. One feature about building on Shetland is the presence and abundance of rock, so members including Hunter & Morrisons Limited and Garriock Brothers Ltd deliver civil engineering services as well as building and construction.
Whilst Shetland’s economy means there is often an abundance of work, the employers face huge competition for labour from the oil and aquaculture industries. Planning delays were another matter cited during my visit. It is clear that our Shetland members are eager for me to continue to provide a voice for them when I lobby Scottish Government Ministers. It’s also clear that our members on Shetland really value FMB’s influence and ability to speak out on their behalf.
The challenges of building on a landscape that at no point, is more than three miles from the sea may be different to where the vast majority of FMB members work but our most northerly members are proud to be part of the FMB community.