Using their redundancy as a springboard, our co-founders Adam Richardson and Lee Buchanan have gone on to develop commercial properties for SMEs with community at their heart.
What is it the company does?
We specialise in creating commercial accommodation focused on the SME sector. The space is available for sale or to let, enabling small enterprises to choose the type of property and tenure that is most suitable for their growth and development.
I set up Priority Space with my business partner Lee Buchanan in 2012. Having both worked with public and private sector organisations, we understand the restrictions and protocols that organisations such as these must adhere to.
The main ethos of Priority Space is to provide spaces that enhance the local communities where we operate. We work in partnership with local authorities and government agencies to do this.
Each development is built to a high specification with sustainability in mind. We always aim for BREEAM, EPC and Secured by Design accreditation when designing the space.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role as director of Priority Space is to find, appraise and acquire land opportunities for commercial property developments.
Once a site has been acquired, I devise a masterplan for the scheme with the project team and oversee the construction process from inception to completion. I am also responsible for the marketing of the development, constantly reviewing and revising the strategy until the last unit is sold on the scheme. My role also involves instructing and liaising with agents and solicitors in order to attract and complete sales and lettings on developments.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I’m fortunate enough to have worked for public, private and client-side organisations throughout my career which has given me a broad understanding of different organisations and their structures.
My last role was at Priority Sites Limited, from 2006 to 2012. Priority Sites Limited was a commercial property development company with a unique ownership as it was owned 51 per cent by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and 49 per cent by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
In October 2012, following a decision by the shareholders, all the staff at Priority Sites Limited were made redundant. Shortly after, Lee and I decided to set up Priority Space.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Great leaders need to inspire and motivate the people that they work with, whether it’s those within the organisation or external partners.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Without a doubt, funding has been the biggest challenge for us. We have the knowledge and experience to undertake developments from start to finish, but the lack of funding definitely held us back in the early years.
We started the business with a redundancy package to live on, but when the due diligence on the very first site cost over £100,000, getting the money together whilst making sure our bills at home were paid, was extremely challenging. We’ve come a long way since then, with lots of developments in the pipeline both in Yorkshire and further afield.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Exercise is key for me. I play football weekly and when I am working in the office, I take the dog out for a walk during the day.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My dad was a farmer and I grew up on a pig, sheep and arable farm, so naturally, I always wanted to be a vet. But in my teens, I quickly discovered I was useless at science at school.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
A lack of work ethic is my main pet hate. Having been brought up on a farm where the work is often hard, with long hours and sometimes with little reward, I get frustrated when others are not working as hard as I feel that they could.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I would like to see the company continue to grow. This would involve acquiring more sites throughout the country but also growing the team. Lee and I have worked together since 2004 and know how each other react to situations, so it will be important to bring in the right people.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Have a vision of where you want your business to go but don’t be afraid to adapt. Listen to others but don’t be pushed down a path you don’t necessarily agree with. Over the last six years, our vision for Priority Space has developed and evolved and in certain areas, it’s changed from where we thought we were going at the start.
Article first published on BQ Live.