Steve Martin

Steve Martin

Managing Director

Managing Director

Name: Steve Martin, Grad.IOSHInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Job title: Managing Director

Before joining Xmo Strata:

I started work at HM Naval Base, Chatham, completing a four year apprenticeship as Fitter & Turner, learning about refrigeration, air conditioning, was trained to use lathes, grinders, borers, milling machines and hand tools. Working conditions have been transformed since the days when I received additional pay for ‘obnoxious conditions’ and ‘danger money’ (you just wouldn’t get away with acknowledging that you were putting people in danger nowadays and paying them a bonus to put up with it). As well as frigates and minesweepers, I also worked on HMS Endurance (the Antarctic icebreaker) and on HMS Churchill and HMS Warspite Nuclear Submarines. Whilst with the YMS (Yard Maintenance Services) team, I was regularly employed to chisel asbestos lagging off water pipes, which I guess puts me at high risk of mesothelioma or asbestosis within the next few years; that may explain my personal interest in making sure my colleagues perform to the highest achievable levels of safety and never expose themselves, our customers or site patrons to any unnecessary risk. I believe firmly in an incident and injury free workplace, to ensure that everyone goes home safely to their family at the end of each week.

When the government announced the closure of the Dockyard, I joined the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry where I received 8 years of classic management training from one of the UK’s leading confectionery distributors with a turnover of £380 million. My roles included several management positions, with responsibility for a team of 38 people and a sales budget of £60 million.

I moved into the sign industry more than 20 years ago, and have always tried to apply my disciplined training to a very unruly and unstable industry.

My work at Xmo Strata includes:

Directing our management team to complete all work in a safe manner, on time and to the high standards expected by our customers. I try hard to achieve transparency and traceability for everything we do, hence the performance statistics being displayed on our website homepage and our Xmoman Management Information System holding a detailed asset history of more than 23,000 jobs, more than 300,000 photographs and the capability to generate more than 70 different reports.

I am proud that my colleagues on site have made more than 750 hazards safe (at source) on site at no cost whatsoever to our client, which saves them calling out another contractor and protects them from potential injury claims by site patrons employing no-win-no-fee lawyers

A large part of my job is also maintaining a strict adherence to health and safety policies and procedures and ensuring that we deliver added value to our customers. The priority I have instilled in everyone at Xmo Strata is safety, quality and productivity – in that order. I always try to encourage our management team and engineers, to ensure that they deliver the same service they would expect if the work was being done on their own home. Like any business, we make mistakes, but we always admit if we have and bear the cost of rectifying it. I would rather lose money on a job than not do it safely or well.

Training needed to complete my work:  

Much of my training relates to managing people and getting the best out of them. Early on in my career, I received formal “listening skills”, “learning profile” and man-management training. This helped me to understand that we all learn in a variety of different ways. I always try to remember that it isn’t what we say that counts, it is what the recipient hears, and more importantly, understands.

Training courses completed since joining Xmo Strata:

As well as management training, I also believe in our management team understanding what our guys on the ground do. For this reason, I hold many of the same qualifications as the teams doing the work, these include UK PIA, PASMAPASMA - Prefabricated Access Suppliers' & Manufacturers' Association. (For mobile scaffold users). (mobile scaffold tower erection course), Incident & Injury Free training, as well as IOSHInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health. Managing Safely, IOSHInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health. Directing Safely and the NEBOSHNational Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health. General Certificate.

I am proud to have achieved an NVQ level 4 in Occupational Health & Safety and accreditation to Grad.IOSHInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health. status in 2009.

The best thing about my job:

I get a lot of satisfaction when customers are pleased with our work, and take the time to drop a note or e-mail. Passing this sort of plaudit onto our guys makes the job all the more rewarding.

Why I wanted to set up Xmo Strata:

As detailed in the book I wrote about it (Safety, Quality, Tricks and Lies), the UK sign industry is (in the main) very poorly managed, extremely under-capitalised and littered with the corpses of companies that could boast a long list of blue chip customers, but that failed to survive. I wanted to set up a company that would deliver what blue chip customers want, and lead the industry from the front in driving up its standards of safety, quality and service.

Sum-up your job in 3 words:

I was torn between 2 answers here, so offer both: “Bloody hard work” and “Tough but rewarding!”

What’s the strangest thing that has happened to you?

 Some years ago, I worked with a creative guy called Ben Mitchell, who had an idea for a SportsWall that could be used for training. We developed it from GRP and used graphics that could be used as targets that the ball would bounce back off; I guess it was a high tech version of the garden wall that Pele, George Best and all other young kids use to develop their skills. To cut a long story short, Chelsea FC and Arsenal bought two and used it as part of their training; I was invited along to meet the Arsenal team while they trained and had a great day with Arsene Wenger, Pat Rice, Denis Bergkamp, Martin Keown, David Platt, Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira, Lee Dixon, John Hartson and dined in the canteen with them. Following that, the story was picked up by Soccer AM and I appeared on TV with John McGovern, Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain, who were all fantastically welcoming.

In your spare time:-

 I don’t get a lot of spare time, but I own two Siberian cats, called Nala and Kiska and try to get to the gym when I can (clearly, not often enough).

I am on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and love sharing things I’m passionate about on there, so feel free to follow me:

Twitter: @XmoSteve

LinkedIn:  Steve Martin 

Facebook: Xmo Strata

I love fishing and spent much of my childhood on the banks of local rivers, lakes and beaches, but rarely make the time nowadays; sadly that’s the first thing that gets sacrificed if I’m busy at work or home.

I do, however always manage to make time for good food and any type of red wine (can’t you tell?).

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