Bouncing back after demise of long-established business

THE economic recession has been tough on the local building trade, with a number of high profile names disappearing from the street scene.

Builders, joiners, plumbers and electricians have all suffered from a dry-up in work, with some firms forced to down-size and others going to the wall altogether.

One of the Forfar victims was the long-established plumbing firm of Skene Blair & Son (Forfar) Limited.

Bidding to ride out the traditionally quieter winter months the plumping and heating engineers based at Station Place were hit by the early onset of severe wintry conditions.

What work there was began to dry up, cash flow became a problem and the straw that broke the camel’s back came when money due from main contractors failed to materialise, leaving directors Ian Steven and Angus Smith with no option but to call in the liquidators.

That was in mid-February, and resulted in the loss of nine jobs.

“We were totally gutted to go down that road, but, after looking at all the options over a period of time, there really was no other way to go,” commented Ian Steven on Friday, as he looked forward to kick-starting his own way back into employment.

“It was hard enough with the work not coming in but the big blow was not getting money in from main contractors.”

Ian said that having to tell the workforce that the firm was going into liquidation was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.

When the shutters went on at the Station Place base of Skene Blair & Son (Forfar ) Limited in mid-February it signalled the end of the road for a firm established away back in 1937.

Skene Blair operated initially from a communal wash house at 66 East High Street, Forfar.

The business moved to 126 East High Street at the end of the second world war, Ron Blair joining his father in 1959 to trade as Skene Blair & Son.

Another short move was made to 124 East High Street before the 1990 transfer from the main street to a new purpose/built showrooom/store at Station Place, Ron then selling his business to Ian Steven and Angus Smith five years ago, as he looked forward to retirement.

Ian Steven is still coming to terms with the closure of the long-established business and ther circumstances behind it.

But, with a wife and young family to support, he is looking to the future, planning to put his 35 years in the plumbing trade to good use.

Having served his time as a plumber with Alex Whyte in Don Street, Forfar, and been associated with Skene Blair for 35 years, he has opted to go down the self-employed route for the first time.

He is operating from his Lunanhead home as Ian Steven, plumbing and heating engineer.

“I will be offering all the services that were available under the Skene Blair name – everything from tap washer replacements to bathroom installations.

“I am Gas Safe registered and carry out a range of work, including boiler servicing, repairs and renewals, bathroom installations, wall panelling and tiling, the installation of gas fires and surroundings, together with leadwork and guttering,” concluded Ian, who can be contacted on 01307 460816.