Family values driving longevity of North East construction business

MGL Group has come a long way since the company was founded by Alan and Sheila Davison in 1971. Five decades ago, Alan launched his business with close friend Andy Waddle Snr joining as his one employee. The pair drove the company Land Rover to their first-ever project in Marton and the rest is history.

From humble beginnings, the business carried out small civil engineering projects for national housebuilders, the coal board, and shipyards and in the early days, it was operating out of a second-hand caravan which was the office, bait cabin and equipment store.

Building its expertise and resource – and driven by Alan’s founding ethos of high-quality workmanship and developing strong partnerships – the company quickly outgrew this start-up arrangement.

MGL Group has 25 apprentices on structured training programmes across 10 disciplines

Today, MGL Group is one of the North East’s most successful construction companies, with its head office in Durham and a 12-acre mixed-use site at Newburn incorporating recycling, workshop and asphalt production facilities, plus a second asphalt site in Barton.

“The business has gone from strength to strength, working with a variety of public and private sector clients as a trusted partner on hundreds of high-profile projects,” said Alan.

“Our commitment to partnering is what differentiates MGL Group from others, as trusted relationships have been built over many years by exceeding client expectations and adding value.”

Adapting to the needs of the sector

As the region’s construction requirements changed, the group diversified its delivery capabilities to transform the built environment. Through partnership agreements and places on major frameworks, MGL Group uses its capabilities to offer a flexible single service or end-to-end solutions.

Now, with a comprehensive range of business units, its core services include asbestos removal, demolition, earthworks, civil engineering, road surfacing, and asphalt production. More recently, the Group has also successfully expanded into new markets including property development and engineering services to the offshore wind sector.

The company’s comprehensive range of services is delivered by a team of over 450 passionate people.

Chief executive Gary Smith has been working for MGL Group since 1997. He said: “As a proud local employer, an important part of the 50th year celebrations is recognising the employees that supported the business.

“Some of the families of original workers are now part of Team MGL. Andy Waddle Jnr, son of the first-ever employee, joined from school and recently retired after 47 years of continuous service.

“He and the other loyal and longstanding employees have played an integral role in driving our business forward as we expand across the North East.”

Nurturing the next generation

There is a team-focused culture throughout the business, which is committed to educating, training, and developing its people to be the best. Through robust apprenticeship programmes and membership to the 5% Club Charter, MGL Group is committed to developing the next generation of employees and inspiring younger people to work in the construction industry.

The company currently has 25 apprentices on structured training programmes across 10 disciplines, which accounts for approximately 6.5% of the group’s total employees. It also recently signed up to The Armed Forces Covenant, and the MOD’s Career Transition Partnership (CTP), which aims to facilitate the employment of service leavers, their families and cadets.

MGL Group makes a significant contribution to the local economy in terms of employment, skills, and training opportunities, as well as a vibrant social value programme to create outcomes that are relevant and beneficial to the community.

In 2016, the MGL Foundation Trust was established to support worthwhile causes with the core business making a significant contribution annually into the trust which has been backed up by internal fundraising activities. Since its inception, the trust has generated funds for local community groups, including donations for two minibuses for local disabled children.

A family investment

Although Alan has retired, the company remains very much a family-led business. His entrepreneurial spirit and client focussed ethos is embedded into MGL Group’s day-to-day activities and core values. His son, Mark, and son-in-law, David Elliott, are both managing directors and his daughter Gillian Reader is a group director. They all share Alan’s passion, drive, and commitment to the family business, while third-generation family members have recently joined the company to strengthen the business.

The future is bright for the MGL Group, as it enters its 50th year of trading. The business is a household name in the region, with a turnover of circa £70m and a strong pipeline of work, maintaining excellent relationships with longstanding customers and acquiring new clients in what is still a very competitive market.

Continued investment in equipment, plant and its people, has allowed MGL Group to ensure it is continually adapting to meet the changing market and customer needs, while retaining the core morals and ethics which are the foundations of the business.

For more information on MGL Group, visit

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