Building The Shard
When Steve Foster was meeting with suppliers who had submitted tenders for what was to be London’s highest building, he immediately recognised Barry Groves.
The year was 2008. Steve was project manager in contracting firm Mace. Barry, a UK pump industry veteran, was Area Sales Manager from the Grundfos London Projects Group. The building was The Shard. It would become an 87-storey, 310-metre (1,016-foot) artistic, glass-covered structure on the Thames River that resembled a “shard of glass.” Today the Shard features a hotel, two restaurants, penthouses, offices and a viewing gallery.
“When I was an apprentice 30-odd years ago, I remembered Barry coming into our offices,” Steve Foster says. “But I’m not sure he remembered me.”
“I didn’t,” says Barry. The two sit in a restaurant over dinner, throwing a barrage of friendly insults and jabs at each other.
“But we hit it off, straight like that,” says Steve, who today works at DGR Mechanical. They quickly learned that they were both from the same area of South London, and they both rooted for the same local football team – Millwall.
On the Shard project, Steve Foster was responsible for buying all the hydraulic services – cooling towers, pumps, boilers, chillers. Grundfos had submitted a pump supply tender for all the main services where water must move: pressure boosting stations for fresh water every 30 floors, heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) and boiler feed. Barry helped Grundfos to win the tender.
“Other pump manufacturers were involved,” Steve says. “Barry stuck with it. We worked him hard. He gave me what I needed. As a contractor, you’re looking for the best price. You’re looking for good service. You’re looking for a high-quality product. And frankly, that’s what we got.”
Barry read the fine print
Steve highlights Barry’s service around the technical submissions, or “techsubs.” For these, the contractor submits suppliers’ product data, drawings and other information back to the consulting engineer for approval.
“We require a lot of support to make sure we are buying the right thing,” Steve says, “You would not believe how hard it is to get people to actually read the specification. I don’t mean to disparage Barry in the least, but when you get someone who actually does what you’re asking for, who reads the specifications, who highlights the differences – Barry did his job. It makes Barry stand head and shoulders above the majority. I could bore you with stories about people who don’t know their products. Or they’re lazy, or they can’t prepare a techsub. So the fact that someone’s doing his job just sets him out from the others. And that couples with a competitive price.”
Even if Barry retires, Steve will call Barry
Steve Foster says, “I’m not ashamed to say this as an engineer or a project manager. Everybody likes an easy life. Who doesn’t? Why would you want pain? I can measure how good somebody is by the amount of pain they give you,” he adds.
“Barry and Grundfos: minimum pain. Very often, it’s almost an inverse proportion to the size of the order or even the size of the company – to people who create the most pain. You’re measuring some suppliers in millions of pounds. You’re measuring others in tens of thousands, and they’re the least equipped – and they take the most time.”
For Steve Foster, the most important factors in a pump supply are an excellent product, good service and good price. But there is something more.
“It’s relationships,” he says.
“People talk to people,” adds Barry. “It’s not people talking to companies.”
“And you know,” adds Steve, “if Barry left Grundfos – and that’s highly unlikely …”
“I’m 65 this year,” Barry says.
“Yeah, well, you only look about 70. If Barry left, well, you know – I would still call Barry. If something goes wrong with the pumps, even if he retires, I will still call Barry. Because I know that even if Barry doesn’t know, he knows someone who does know.”
For more information on Grundfos boosting and HVAC supply
Barry and his team took care of all the boosting at the Shard, as well as pump supply for heating, chilling, condensing and pressurisation. For more information on Grundfos in the commercial building sector, click here.
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