Me and my job: Peter Shone interview

Peter Shone, JPCS

JPCS Managing Director, Peter Shone, talks about his job and what it’s like to work in the highways industry. For more information about the history of JPCS, you can download our visual timeline

What made you want to get into this line of work?

From the experience I gained as an apprentice and then operative at a local surfacing company, I had a vision to transform footway surfacing from a rather “scruffy” industry, into something much more high profile, offering excellent value and quality of service, as well as investing in the future, so, at the age of 25, I decided to start a new business.

How long have you been doing it? How long with this company?

I have been in the highways industry for a total of 28 years now, with 21 years at JPCS.

How did you get the job? Can you remember your interview?

It’s my own business, so there was no interview! In terms of getting to where I am today, JPCS was born out of a passion for delivering a client-focussed solution. When I was 18, I went out to work on pavement repairs with a gang, as part of an apprenticeship. Whilst working on the ground, I realised the products and systems used were out-dated and very limited. I spotted an opportunity to develop new methods and a higher level of service, and started to introduce these whilst moving up the ranks of the company, eventually heading up a footway operation. JPCS was then setup in 1993.

Give us a two-sentence summary of what your job involves.

As managing director, I am responsible for business strategy, health and safety, financial probity, personal development and ensuring the business is adaptable to meet the needs of our customers. I am directly engaged in monitoring and reviewing corporate and business objectives, as well as developing strategies, facilitating innovation, maximising continuous improvement, developing new business opportunities, commercial control and senior appointments.

What do you love about your job?

Watching employee loyalty pay off, seeing people adapt to change, and working with forward thinking people who bring solutions, not problems. In addition, seeing concepts evolve through the contributions of our clients, suppliers and team, from early ideas into cost-effective, market leading solutions, is extremely rewarding.

And what do you hate about your job?

Watching achievable developments stagnate through third party bureaucracy.

How much can you expect to earn in the highways industry on average?

Operatives in footways can earn around £25k on average. If you take the plunge to set up your own business, the rewards are there, although it is always a risk on your investment. However, there is no substitute for the satisfaction of seeing your hard work paying off.

What qualifications, skills and personal qualities do you need for the job?

Our business is really diverse, as we work with the highways, rail, and energy markets and each requires different qualifications on the ground. As a leader, I believe you need operational experience and understanding, strategic awareness, commercial control and know-how, and a true client focus, as well as having the ability to innovate, and crucially, to build successful teams.

Being involved in industry groups to keep up with developments and make positive contributions is also really important. I am currently a Fellow of the Institute of Asphalt Technology and a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation.

Any advice for those wishing to join the profession?

Listen to your stakeholders and engage with the people you come into contact with. Working around hundreds of thousands of homes over the last 20 years has helped us to understand peoples’ needs, enabling us to adapt and develop new products and services accordingly. This goes back to my earliest experiences on site: if you stand on the road wearing a “yellow jacket”, people will come out of their homes and give invaluable end-user feedback.