Name: David Townend
Job Title: Area Manager
What is your background?
Following schooling in Huddersfield, I attended Portsmouth Polytechnic to sit a BEng Honours degree in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics.
Since graduating 30 years ago, I have worked in geotechnical engineering in the varying roles of Consultant (the likes of Amey, Atkins, AECOM, Donaldsons, WSP), Contractor (Geotechnics Ltd) and Client (Hong Kong Government Geotechnical Engineering Office) on a variety of geotechnical, civil engineering, mining and environmental projects, primarily involving ground investigation, earthworks and tunnels.
Since 2008 I have held senior roles, leading and managing teams and taking full responsibility for deliverables, quality, programme and budget.
How long have you worked with Geobear?
I started with Geobear in March 2019, just at the start of the Covid pandemic, so things were a little difficult to start with.
I was attracted to Geobear having first come across the product in 2006 and, when the opportunity arose in 2019, I discussed the opportunity with Alex Finch and came on board soon after.
What does your job involve?
As an Area Manager with Geobear, I am involved with residential subsidence projects, from receiving the first information on an enquiry from Customer Services, through initial customer liaison, site assessments, scheme design, quoting, follow ups, review following site investigation & drainage surveys and moving the project across to the Delivery team on receipt of an order from the customer.
I see my main initial responsibility as picking up as much information as possible from the client and property owner to allow a design to be produced which will see our geopolymer injection works being successful. I then assess ground and borehole information, mining information from the Coal Authority to property history from historic mapping, and images of the property on Zoopla etc.
As a geologist / geotechnical engineer, I like to work out what is affecting a property and the mechanics behind the movement.
Private homeowners contact Geobear for their expertise, as they often only know a little about the problem. They are able to point out some new cracks or show that a door is no longer closing as it used to do, but they rely on us to work out where the property is moving and why. Some of the things we consider are, is the property underlain by soft or loose ground which is prone to ongoing settlement / consolidation ? Is the property underlain by clay which is prone to seasonal shrink & swell ? Are there drains in the vicinity and where do they run ?
In summary, an Area Manager needs to be able assess a problem in detail from a technical side, while being able to discuss with the owner at an understandable level (I liken our injection tubes to the straw on a WD40 can and clay shrinkage to the cracked mud in a dried up puddle). Although working in Sales, I am first and foremost a Geotechnical Engineer.
What is a typical day/ week like in your role?
My role generally takes me anywhere north of Sheffield and Manchester, resulting in many hours on the road and circa 20,000 miles a year. It is important to schedule visits appropriately, to save zig-zagging across the north too much.
I am generally out visiting and assessing properties 3 days a week, with the rest of the week preparing projects for the design and quoting phase, assessing further information as it comes available and processing orders when they come in. Follow-up is an important part of the role, which I like doing between property visits, so making use of my time on the road.
We have two kinds of residential projects, those that come through insurers / loss adjusters (B2B) and those that come from private customers (B2C).
B2B projects generally comes with a wealth of information including a site investigation report and drain survey, along with a subsidence engineer’s assessment as to what the problem is and what areas of a property require treatment. We review the details and arrange a site visit with the policyholder to discuss our processes
B2C projects are very different and can be more challenging because they need an in depth review to work out what the problem is, where treatment is required, where the drains are and what the ground conditions are (if possible, we use a dynamic probe on site to give an initial assessment of ground conditions, the results of which relate directly to our design guidelines).
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That is an easy one – I like using the experience I have gained throughout my career to help customers through their subsidence problems.
If someone was interested in pursuing a career in your role, what would you like them to know?
It is essential to be knowledgeable about ground conditions and how different issues may affect a property. Such knowledge will likely come from a background in geotechnical engineering, following a suitable degree course.
It is important to be confident in discussing our processes with customers and how we can solve their subsidence problem.
You will also need to have the ability to assess what is in front of you, and don’t be afraid to challenge the information provided or request further information to assist your assessment/ solution.
If you have a suitable background and like working things out and piecing things together, then this is the role for you. Get out there and use your knowledge to help others.
We currently have open positions for Area Managers, to find out more information and for details on how to apply click here
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We deliver projects on any sort of building or structure – from conservatory extension problems to 80,000m2 warehouses and road infrastructure. In most cases we will have the best solution, so get in touch today.