Danny Sullivan tells Fiona O’Brien why he is so grateful to his workers as his company celebrates its 30th anniversary and how he has seen the change from talented grafters to skilled engineers
After 30 years the founder of the Danny Sullivan Group (DSG) recently held a special event to thank the near hundred workers who have given the company service over two decades.
Danny Tim Sullivan has become a well-known part of the London Irish community, both for his construction company and his charitable work, and helping out new arrivals from Ireland.
At the Clayton Crown Cricklewood he held an event to honour the 96 employees who had worked for him for 20 years or more. Such is the mutual respect between boss and workers that there are a further 500 employees who have worked for him between five and 15 years.
But Danny, in his ever humble way, does not personally take the credit for the reason why his workers have stuck with him, only instead citing the long-term contracts that have kept men in work for a number of years.
“The reason for that is long contracts. We have been fortunate enough to have worked on some great jobs from the Crossrail, to the Euro tunnel to the new Jubilee line, the nuclear station in Reading, the Liverpool docks and work in Aberdeen too.
“So it is all across the UK and some of those jobs have been five, six, seven years long so that’s why the workers have stayed with us for so long.”
Danny first arrived in the UK with his uncle in 1971 at the age of 16 and a half where he worked in Nottingham before moving to London. Having worked on the sites Danny’s ambition saw him take on his own workers and build the company from there.
“The Danny Sullivan Group officially started in 1986, although I had been working with men from 1981, with 700 people, and two people in the office and one on the road.
“Now, 30 years later we have about 1,600-1,700 workers, an office of 60, as well as four health and safety teams and ten agents.
“It wasn’t even the youth on my side that allowed me to take that risk, because I would not have been able to do it in this age. It is so different now with all of the legislation.
“I was lucky enough in my time to be paid weekly and to have good workers with me so we could just go from job to job.
“Now you need so many years behind you, and accounts and everything backdated before you can start up.”
Danny cites this, and the increase in health and safety operations, as the biggest changes in the industry, a ‘necessary’ one, and he also credits his son Timothy for a lot of the business’ recent success.
“We are lucky to have him as managing director as his vision and new ideas have secured us major contracts.” But Danny is especially thankful to the staff he has himself.
“I am delighted to have great people working for us and my family and I. This event gave us the opportunity to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, every person who has worked with us over the years.
“We are so grateful to each and every one of them, and especially the ones who are no longer with us. And also the clients, they are so, so important too.”
Danny is extremely well-known for helping people get their first job in London, and in his 30 years of running the company has noticed the difference in the skills of people coming over.
“In our day you just needed to be a good grafter, but it’s all changed now, you need more than that. The lads coming over are more educated and have engineering and computing skills. “But you need that education behind you with all of the extra legislation now, and there are very good lads coming over at the moment.
“I am delighted to give them a start over here, and sometimes it sets them up for better tests and opportunities in the future. “And we don’t mind that at all if they find a better opportunity, and sometimes you’ll see them return to us in a few years time.
“But that’s no problem, we keep our door open for them.”
Danny also has praise for one worker in particular for organising the big anniversary event.
“Special mention must also go to our PR and Marketing officer Sinead O’Sullivan, who was brilliant in organising the event.
“I must thank her for all of her hard work and support to the company.”
And one other woman he singled out in his praise was his wife Sheila.
“My biggest success in life by far is marrying such a wonderful and solid woman. We have five children that were born here in London and then moved back to Kerry and I can’t thank her enough for the job that she did raising them.
“It is very important to have that personal life, it’s a boost. If the home is happy then you can face the problems of the world and all of its ups and downs and I would like to give her the biggest thanks of all.”