Weekly Pic | 28 Nov: That Time I Won* An Award

5 years ago | The Brewery, London, UK | 30th November 2017 I’ve been to industry awards nights before and even picked up the odd award or two but this was the first time I’d ‘won’ an award for someone else. Earlier that year, I’d been asked to write the award entry documentation to support …

Continue reading Weekly Pic | 28 Nov: That Time I Won* An Award

Photo of the Week | w/c 3rd October 2022

35 years ago: Central Park, Wigan, UK – 7th October 1987I’m almost certainly on this picture. I was one of the 36,895 who packed into Wigan’s old Central Park ground to watch the cherry-and-whites become World Club Champions. That we were packed tightly at the very back of the corner terrace, far behind the floodlight …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 3rd October 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 26th September 2022

20 years ago: Statham Lodge, Lymm, UK – 29th September 2002We got married twenty years ago, this week. I’ve previously shared more obvious pictures from that day but this shot is one of my favourites. We’re gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, for a cameraman trying to create an image. We’d argued in that Bentley …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 26th September 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 19th September 2022

20 years ago: Robinsons Superstore, Ashton-in-Makerfield, UK – 19th September 2002It was just a regular Thursday evening in September and we’d just got back from Sainsbury’s when the ‘phone rang. “The shop’s on fire”. We jumped in the car and drove to Ashton. There were police cordons on the A49 at Haydock Racecourse. We told …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 19th September 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 12th September 2022

25 years ago: Robinsons Superstore, Ashton-in-Makerfield, UK – 13th September 1997If you were re-opening a feedstore for horse feed and bedding in the 1990s, there was no bigger equine celebrity to perform the grand opening than Milton, one of the most famous and successful horses in British showjumping. Having obligingly ‘cut’ the ribbon (actually two …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 12th September 2022

School’s Out (Again)!

It’s early August and, across the country, an annual ritual is taking place.  Days have been crossed out on kitchen calendars, past favours counted up and the number of ‘sleeps’ counted down.  There are few weeks in the year that can generate as much excitement – and trepidation – as those upon us. 

Photo of the Week | w/c 5th September 2022

10 years ago: Salford Quays, Manchester, UK – 11th September 2012I took this photo as we climbed out of Manchester Airport on a flight to Gothenburg. You can see the Manchester Ship Canal winding its way past the Trafford Centre to Salford Quays, Media City, the Lowry and then Old Trafford football ground. Behind the …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 5th September 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 29th August 2022

10 years ago: Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany – 31st August 2012A 2012 business trip to Germany just happened to be on the doorstep of Germany’s famous racing circuit. When it was time for lunch, our hosts had booked us in “a local restaurant”. We didn’t know any more than that until we arrived at the circuit …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 29th August 2022

The Road to Wigan Pier

Mention George Orwell and the mind most readily turns to his two masterpiece novels, ‘Animal Farm’ and, of course, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Together, these two modern classics constitute a third of his body of fiction in a career curtailed all too soon by his untimely death, at 46, in 1950. In 1936, Orwell was 33. He’d …

Continue reading The Road to Wigan Pier

Photo of the Week | w/c 15th August 2022

10 years ago: Orléans Cathedral, Orléans, France – 17th August 2012It’s exactly 10 years since we decided to drive into Europe for our main holiday and Orléans was the stopping point at the end of our first day on the road, en route to Bourg-sur-Gironde, north of Bordeaux. We went inside and viewed the tapestry of …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 15th August 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 25th July 2022

10 years ago: Chamberlains Farm, Shevington Moor, UK – 27th July 2012In a ‘scene change’ of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, I made a brew and allowed myself to be caught up in the national-image-reaffirming positivity of the evening. The Queen had just ‘parachuted’ into the stadium and we’d shown the world all that’s great …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 25th July 2022

Photo of the Week | w/c 27th June 2022

30 years ago: Old Trafford, Manchester, UK – July 1992In the close season before the first Premier League season, I made my regular summer trip to Old Trafford to purchase the new home shirt on the day of its release from the Club ‘Superstore’ (the small rectangular building in the bottom-right corner). I remember walking …

Continue reading Photo of the Week | w/c 27th June 2022

If It’s Not All Right, It’s Not The End

My email to Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode on the occasion of their last ‘Wittertainment’ film review show on BBC 5Live… Dear “Goodnight From Me” and “Goodnight From Him”, I like to think of myself as a LTL (approx. 13 years) but, this being a church, I’m aware that there will always be those, ‘holier-than-thou’ …

Continue reading If It’s Not All Right, It’s Not The End

Сообщение для русских друзей

Привет, Надеюсь, вы понимаете это. Одна из немногих фраз на русском языке, которую я помню из своего визита в Москву и Санкт-Петербург в 1991 году, это «Мой русский очень плохой». Сегодня мой русский так же плох, но у меня есть Google, чтобы помочь мне перевести. События на Украине волнуют весь мир. Я уверен, что они …

Continue reading Сообщение для русских друзей

10 Years On: By Royal Appointment

Just over a decade ago, I was honoured to be asked to speak at the National Equine Forum, one of the most prestigious events in the horse industry. The event was attended, as usual, by HRH The Process Royal. and, unusually, would be held at The Royal Society in London. My speech was entitled ‘How to Run a Successful Equine Business in a Recession’ and, as a speaker, I was asked to meet Princess Anne afterwards – she was very complimentary, by the way.

Whatever Happened to Likely?

We appear to be at a crossroads, in which some in the field of linguistics consider it to be a vulgarity and others a natural progression. It is, essentially, the same argument that purists and pragmatists have waged since well before Shakespeare’s day. The difference is that Shakespeare knew he was concocting a new word – one of the key tenet of so-called ‘poetic licence’ is that you have to know the rules in order to break them.

Tropic with Joy: Where It All Started

We’d been advised by Australian friends that the place to explore the Barrier Reef from is a town called Port Douglas, about an hour’s drive North of Cairns. We picked up our hire car and made our way up the coast road. The stunning scenery, the exotic vegetation and the perfect beaches you see whenever you read Tropic’s literature, or the Tropic website, all reminded me of that wonderful time in our lives.

From Grange Hill to The Palace – And Back

I’m so proud of him for listening to me and to everyone else who encouraged him to write this book. I can’t begin to describe the admiration I have for him for actually writing it and I think he deserves every bit of recognition due to him as he continues to reduce the stigma of a condition that can affect any of us. The heir to the throne could do a lot, lot worse than enlist his help in some way.

CSG: Owning the Problem of More Consumption

“Very low down the list of reasons not to participate in Black Friday was the sense that the whole thing might be harming us all by fuelling overconsumption. With such significant change, there is almost always a ‘law of unintended consequences’ to consider. The whole thing started merely as a competitive device to win sales from others. Within a year or two, as it became clear that the buzz generated by Black Friday was too big to leave unexploited, leading to a ‘mission creep’ of more products, cheaper variants and more frivolity.”

CSG: The First 85 Years

In 1934, a very different Britain was still shaped by her Victorian heyday, in the twilight of Empire. The country mourned the passing of two of its greatest composers, Elgar and Holst, a 19 year-old called Stanley Matthews made his England debut and a writer from Australia called PL Travers published a book called ‘Mary Poppins’. It was, in so many ways, nothing like the Britain we inhabit today. And yet, the basic rules of business apply today, as much as they did then – the vital importance of doing a job well, to the absolute satisfaction of the customer.

CSG: Same Place, Different World

Despite the notability of the occasion, Mike recalls the ups and downs of his career over the last forty years with little ceremony.

“It all seems to have gone past pretty quickly.  I’ve always said that working here has been like playing a game of snakes and ladders.  I’ve been up a few ladders and down a few snakes – and now I’m happy to stay out of the way of them both.

60 Miles? Nothing in the Scheme of Things

After all the seemingly pointless Strava updates about random cycling sessions you may have seen, it’s time you all knew the truth I’ve been keeping under wraps – I’m going to do the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride. I’ve been asked to ride to help raise money for the iMRI Scanner Appeal at Manchester Children’s …

Continue reading 60 Miles? Nothing in the Scheme of Things

Thanks For Your ‘Great North’ Support!

As a result of their efforts, I’m delighted to confirm that Charlie and Warren have managed to beat their £500 sponsorship target for Amelia’s specialist support.  As I type, the appeal has reached £665, a third more than they’d hoped to raise.  Of course, don’t let that stop you adding to that figure, if you wish to.  Every pound raised is as important as every other.  Once again, thanks to all of you who made that happen!

To see how the sponsorship money helps – and to add to it – have a look at Warren & Charlie’s JustGiving page.

Just When You Though It Was Safe, He’s Back In The Water…

Please consider helping Charlie and Warren as they raise funds to help with Amelia’s progress for another year. The link is below. Oh, and as Warren works for United Utilites, we’re hoping that every pound that he and Charlie raise from this page will be matched by UU – so for every pound you donate, you can get two pounds’ worth of feelgood.

Really, what’s not to like about that?

CSG: Safe Processes

In one form or another, we’ve been adopting ever-safer processes in the ways that we work for decades. Responding to the ever-shifting balance between the services we are able to offer and the way we expect our colleagues to perform them has become a process in itself. This year’s focus is on those we’ve always been less able to control: contractors. Whether they’re working with CSG to look after our facilities or they’re sub-contractors doing work on our behalf for the customer, we’re now ensuring we can exert the same levels of control over their processes. This will allow us to expect the same level of safe practice already shown by our own highly compliant team.

Obituary: Marley

Marley was different.  Possibly because he was the runt of his litter, he possessed a legendarily meek nature and always accepted his obligations without complaint.  His reward for compliance was the years it added to his life.  Without doubt, the biggest hurdle in owning a diabetic dog is overcoming the natural reluctance to believe that you can inject an animal so regularly.  You just have to – but it’s so much easier with a compliant dog.

CSG: Safe People

“We have to empower our people to exercise judgement whenever they feel safety is compromised  – no-one can accurately predict every single risk and even a huge set of prescriptive rules will never lead to a safer outcome in all cases.  A fear of being blamed for stopping a process can be a disincentive to Behavioural Safety so the only way to counter that is to create and reinforce a strong ‘no-blame’ culture.”

My Letter to Lisa Nandy MP: May I Count on Your Support for the Kyle-Wilson Amendment?

This week, following the 230-vote defeat of ‘The Meaningful Vote’ and the 149-vote defeat of ‘Meaningful Vote II’, there is, we are informed, likely to be a third attempt for the Prime Minister to scrape her ill-conceived, ill-begotten, ill-starred deal into UK policy – I’d like this one to be called ‘Meaningful Vote – With A Vengeance’.  Among the amendments it will face, we expect the Kyle-Wilson Amendment to be debated, in which May’s faltering, diluted position, if passed, must be put to the people as a “confirmatory referendum” and against which the option to Remain must feature.

CSG Says: Don’t Forget To Love The Environment, This Valentine’s Day

Glitters and foils may make your offering more visually attractive to your intended but their complexity means they’re far less attractive to Mother Earth. As we’re becoming increasingly aware, the same is also true of black plastics – something that tends to make up the trays lurking inside most  chocolate boxes. The more environmentally-aware we’re becoming, the more we feel under pressure to cut back on the more obvious bits of eye-candy at times like this.

Take my 20-minute Music Quiz!

It’s all a bit arbitrary, I know, but it’s my game so do you wanna play? As with the Danny Baker Show on BBC Radio 5 Live, the winner will take home “the prize of nothing more than our very best wishes” and, of course, some bragging rights. Good luck!

A Corner Of A Foreign Field That Is Forever…Standish

With the centenary of the Armistice almost upon us, this year’s Remembrance Day will be especially poignant.  Anyone with strong family links to serving personnel, especially those who were killed in action, will be keen to participate in the many commemorative events that will be held. I grew up believing that no-one from my family …

Continue reading A Corner Of A Foreign Field That Is Forever…Standish

It’s Only Words (To Take Your Heart Away?)

Introduction “The Impotence of Being Earnest” I believe it was Søren Kierkegaard who once said “If you label me, you negate me”.  Already, I’m sensing you’re rolling your eyes at the audacity of my quoting a 19th-century Danish philosopher, without any warning.  “Oh no, here we go.  What an absolute [insert insult of choice]”.  Hold …

Continue reading It’s Only Words (To Take Your Heart Away?)

Southgate, Redemption & Coming Home

Today, I went to Chorley. Nothing particularly noteworthy or even relevant in that, on this day of all days, you might think. In fairness, you’d be right – unless you’re aware of then significance it has to me. What’s the tale? Okay, ‘long story short(er)’ version: It’s Euro ‘96. I’ve managed to get corporate tickets …

Continue reading Southgate, Redemption & Coming Home

CSG: A New Window on the World of CSG

As you’d expect, the site is designed to smartly alter its layout, depending on the dimensions of the screen on the device you’re using so it looks equally impressive whether you’re accessing it on a 27-inch desktop machine or an old iPhone – and everything in between!

The information is designed to be easier to navigate, immediately helping you to distinguish between our commercial and domestic services. Further innovations such as a quote calculator for domestic collections (similar to the function on our Oil Monster site) are expected to be added in due course.

CSG: Driving Ambition

CSG are a firm supporter of apprenticeships and have found the scheme beneficial to the development of many individuals in roles across the company. Our Managing Director Neil Richards is firm advocate and has in the past stated that investing in programmes that develop skills is a great way to counter perceptions that the waste industry is too reliant on low-skilled labour.

CSG: Who Will Watch the Watchers? The Case for Internal Audit

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” wrote the Roman satirist Juvenal around the turn of the 2nd century, raising questions of the capability of those in authority to discharge their duties responsibly. It’s a question that for the almost two thousand years since, civilisations have grappled with, resulting in the notion of auditing – to ensure that others can see that responsibilities are being met, as they should be.

CSG: From One Revolution to the Next – A History of our Cadishead Site

With such a rich history, and a key part in the Industrial Revolution, the Co-operative movement and then the subsequent decline of mining and steelworks, Cadishead and Irlam’s development has, to a large extent, become a textbook example in the very history of industry over the last two hundred years. With CSG’s focus on recycling and commitment to development to achieve better waste outcomes in future, it combines two of the most sought-after elements to meet the challenges ahead: environmental sustainability and the so-called knowledge economy.

Notes On A Shrinking Planet

Travel.  It’s such a short, functional word which has come to represent something far more profound than its brevity implies, like ‘time’, ‘life’ and ‘politics’.  Too often, it’s a word associated only with the mechanics of moving around the world, rather than the effect of doing so.  Perhaps the term ‘transportation’ would better describe the simple relocation that is the very minimum requirement of ‘travel’ in its correct, widest sense.

CSG: Happy Xmas (2017 is over)

2017 has been another busy year, here at CSG, with more customers served, more volumes moved and more satisfaction with our services than ever before. It was a year that saw the launch of ‘The Hart of Waste’, the second edition of the book, which contains the official history and current portrait of CSG. It was also a year in which we strongly identified the four pillars that make our brand so strong: Customers, Heritage, Innovation and People.

CSG: More Power To Your Elbow!

Using GEA’s new scroll drive system, it produces upto 15,000Nm of torque – roughly 10 times that of the fastest supercars – and it’s capable of removing upto 1,700Kg of dry matter every hour. It’s not all about brawn, there are brains as well: the system continuously monitors torque and will automatically change the differential speed in order to ensure maximum dry solid content at all times.

CSG: The Importance of Being Recognised

One curious discovery we made was that very often, the people closest to the technology were so used to its capability, they didn’t always recognise the significance of what it enabled them to do. On several occasions, impressive processes that are done every day were seen as ‘everyday’ in nature – and that’s nowhere near the same thing! Using the freshness of a different perspective, we were able to remind ourselves – and, importantly, the very people who use the technology – just how amazing it all is!

CSG: Untrained Operators? Consider it Undone!

“We have knowledge gained from the experience of doing hundreds of jobs and we try to apply as much of that know-how as we can into our training” said Gavin Lucas, Willacy’s General Manager. “The proper use of the machinery we’ve supplied not only ensures the jobs are done more effectively but it also reduces the chances of faults or performance issues occurring on the machinery itself.”

CSG: Brand Pillar 2 – Heritage

CSG has always tried to combine the best of both worlds: the achievement and capability of a dynamic corporation with the lighter touch and firmer identity of a family concern. It’s a rare combination and one that’s a testimony to the vision, not just of the man who started it all, but to his descendants who have worked to retain the essence of that family business, established 83 years ago.

ETN: Simple Answer? No-one is “Always Right”

The net result is that upholding consistent, mutually-fair customer service is more difficult today than it’s ever been. Some simplicity helps ensure consistency but clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach guarantees that sooner or later, the wrong outcome will be reached.

There will (and should) always be judgement calls. As in judicial process, consideration must be given to things like previous good character and mitigating factors. I recommend you ask yourself these three questions…

CSG: Treatment and Recovery

With the industry’s successes in extracting waste oil for re-refinery, together with the growing capability for separating precious metals from waste streams to create a ‘circular economy’, it’s tempting to think of waste treatment and recovery as a modern-day form of alchemy, the mythical ancient art of turning base metals into gold.  For centuries, many cultures have tried in vain to find a process to do just that. Are we, figuratively speaking, now at that point with a large proportion of our waste?

CSG: Brand Pillar 1 – Customer Service

Customer retention rates, longevity, average life-time value are all longer-term measures of customer behaviour that almost define the very point of offering an unbeatable ability to meet and exceed expectations, consistently.   Customer service is not really about what it achieves today but what it continues to enable in future.  In an era where we’re used to demanding and delivering instant gratification, it’s worth remembering that its true value is one that arrives very steadily, over time.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics?

I can only presume that in 2017, ten years after the stadium’s opening, the debenture terms have elapsed and different rules now apply.  The good news is that 68-odd thousand is not really any lower than any other year so the “lowest attendance” story is (and I hasten to give this term the credence it ill-deserves) ‘fake news’.  The bad news, rugby fans, is that for a decade, we’ve been kind of kidding ourselves about the true numbers.

CSG: A ‘Brand’ New Outlook

Our intention was to establish the things we’re strongest at and put them at the forefront of our identity – which is just an exercise in common sense, when you think about it. Land Rover never seem to miss a chance to tell you how good their vehicles are off-road and why shouldn’t they – it’s their very reason for being! We’re very aware that all our customers have a choice of waste partner and only by presenting ourselves in the best way possible can we hope to become – or remain – your first choice.

CSG: Coming Soon… A Site to Behold

Since 2010, there’s been an explosion in web browsing from hand-held devices and websites today simply have to look as good and behave as well, whether you’re using a smartphone, a tablet or a desktop computer to browse it. It’s therefore no surprise that the new site will be ‘responsive’ – i.e. the site responds to the screen requirements of each device used to view it – unlike the 2010 edition.

CSG: The Beat of a Different Drum

In 2008, Willacy were asked to lend their cleaning services to the Petrotrin refinery on the island of Trinidad.  Since then, work there has become a regular fixture on their calendar.  Trinidad and Tobago has a long association with petrochemicals – the distinctive sound of the steelpan in calypso music was defined in part by the availability of oil drums there in the early twentieth century.

ETN: A Catalogue of Considerations

“These leviathans of a bygone age may seem a comforting reminder of constancy in an uncertain world but bear this in mind: Next have flirted with charging for their directory and are also very sophisticated at deciding which customers should (and shouldn’t) deserve to be on their ‘VIP’ list to whom free directories are sent. If you happen to find your coffee table supporting the Next directory, their hard-bound Summer Fashions volume and the extensive Next Furniture opus as well, clearly, someone in your household is spending a fortune with them.”