Founded in 1964
Founded in 1964, George Leslie Ltd is a Civil Engineering Contractor operating throughout Scotland; capable of undertaking a wide range of civil engineering construction projects.
Based in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, George Leslie operate across Scotland and beyond, working on Marine projects, Water Management, Infrastructure and Energy.
GEORGE LESLIE SNR FOUNDED THE COMPANY, GEORGE LESLIE LTD, IN 1964; WORKING FROM THE FAMILY HOME IN GLASGOW, WHERE A BEDROOM WAS CONVERTED INTO AN OFFICE.
With the help of his wife Jean, who became the company administrator and son George Jnr assisting on sites.
Our first contract was for the provision of a concrete hardstanding, undertaken for Glenfield & Kennedy at their foundry works in Kilmarnock for the princely sum of £8,500. Completed work was agreed every Friday morning and payment made the same afternoon!
As the business expanded through the following year, George Leslie established premises in a former garage in McCulloch Street on the southside of Glasgow, which was converted into an office and yard.
During this time, the company secured inclusion on the Tender List for the Corporation of Glasgow’s Sewerage Department. George Leslie were appointed as one of three emergency contractors for Greater Glasgow on a significant and important new development – the construction of the Kingston Bridge and Inner Ring Road.
By 1967, the company had started working on the British Rail Scottish Region’s electrification programme, which involved the raising of bridge decks on all existing overbridges to allow clearance for new overhead cables.
Our first British Rail contract was on the Glasgow to Wemyss Bay line and our relationship continued for 30 years until rail privatisation.
As the company grew, a new two storey office block was built on the corner of McCulloch Street and Kenmuir Street. It was officially opened in August 1969.
THE 1970’S – A DECADE OF CHANGE FOR THE COMPANY.
George Leslie Jnr, who had been working in Australia, returned home and re-joined the company in 1970 as a Civil Engineer. He was appointed to the Board in April of that year.
George Leslie Sewer Services Division was established the following year.
In 1972, George Leslie Snr sold the company to the Economic Forestry Group, a small stock market listed engineering company, based in Nottingham.
Having outgrown the original McCulloch Street premises, the company moved to Blackbyres Road, Barrhead in 1973, where we are located to this day.
By 1974, the Economic Forestry Group were renamed BrabyLeslie Plc, reflecting the importance of George Leslie within the group.
The same year, the company won the contract for the first phase of a modernisation programme for Scotstoun Marine (Yarrows) Shipyard. Following successful completion of this phase, subsequent contracts were secured, with BrabyLeslie maintaining a continuous presence in the shipyard over the next few years.
George Leslie Ltd continued to grow but in 1979 George Leslie Snr retired from the company with George Leslie Jnr taking over as Managing Director.
BY 1982, BRABYLESLIE PLC WERE SUBJECT TO A HOSTILE TAKEOVER BY ANGLO NORDIC BUT IN 1984, GEORGE LESLIE JNR LED A MANAGEMENT BUYOUT AND GEORGE LESLIE LTD RETURNED ONCE MORE TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP.
The new Board of Directors, George Leslie Jnr, Iain MacLeod and Lindsay McGibbon, along with two aspiring Site Agents, Gordon McIntosh and John McCormack, had a good start to 1984. In January, George Leslie were awarded the £721k, Loch Vaa Railway Bridge near Aviemore. This was followed up by the £788k, Fullarton Road U/B No.5 Cambuslang contract in February. Following this, several British Rail, Scottish Development Agency and Regional Council contracts were won.
1985 saw the creation of our widely recognised diamond logo with our trademark orange and black colour scheme. The logo was created by George Leslie Jnr and his original drawings of the trademarked logo are still on file.
John McCormack and Gordon McIntosh joined the GL Board in 1986.
The remainder of the 1980’s saw turnover steadily build under the MBO team, with a diverse range of clients across a wide range of civil engineering projects.
WITH ANNUAL TURNOVER RISING TO £9M THE BUSINESS CONTINUES TO GROW ORGANICALLY.
By 1992 and with workload and regional presence expanding, the company opened a satellite office in Inverness to manage the growing number of projects we had throughout the north of Scotland. We had been working in the Highlands and Islands for many years undertaking varied projects such as water and sewerage schemes, jetties, sea outfalls, roads, and bridges. Clients included Highland Regional Council, Highlands Enterprise, British Rail and British Waterways.
One of our most notable projects at that time was the Black Isle Water Augmentation Scheme, designed to provide resilience to the water supply network in the area. This involved the laying of 7km of new pipeline, some of which utilised state of the art no-dig techniques for the time, exemplifying George Leslie’s drive for innovation. Other projects included a new road bridge at Ullapool and the A96 Aberdeen-Inverness Trunk Road Improvements contract.
The early 1990’s saw a significant change in client procurement to Design & Build (D&B) contracts. This was particularly so in the water industry, both on the clean and dirty water side. The introduction of “Partnering” and “Frameworks” was another important aspect of contract procurement, which would have a significant impact on the way the company would develop in the future.
Partnering moved George Leslie up a league in the water industry and in the days of the three Water Authorities in Scotland (North, West, and East), George Leslie established itself as a major player. Our first partnership, Purac Leslie Consortium worked well, concentrating mainly on projects for East of Scotland Water.
As a standalone project, George Leslie was awarded the £5.6m, Ayr Interceptor Sewer contract from West of Scotland Water in 1999, which was the largest single contract undertaken by the company at that time.
At the end of the same year, George Leslie were approached by Biwater, a Manchester based process, mechanical and electrical company operating within the UK water industry and internationally, with a view to forming a joint venture to tender for the West of Scotland Water Frameworks. The Joint Venture was formalised in 2000 and Biwater Leslie Joint Venture (BLJV)’s first success came later that year, with the award of the Coastal Communities North Partnership – a 3 year, £35m programme of sewage treatment works up and down the west coast of Scotland. This was closely followed by award of the 4 year, £100m Strategic Partnership; both with West of Scotland Water.
February 2000, John McNaught joined our team.
Lindsay McGibbon retired from the George Leslie Board in 1999, with Iain MacLeod following him in 2001. However, the Board was strengthened in March 2000 when Iain Burrows and Brian Findlay were appointed Company Directors.
In 2001 the Purac Leslie Consortium were awarded a £30m design & build framework programme of sewage treatment work upgrades for East of Scotland Water, adding to the Biwater Leslie Strategic Partnership and cementing George Leslie’s presence in the water industry across Scotland. John McNaught, who had re-joined the company in 2000, was appointed to the Board of Directors in August of this year.
The three water authorities in Scotland amalgamated in 2002 and in 2003, George Leslie were appointed to the Minor Works / Small Value Capital Framework by the newly created Scottish Water.
2003 was another significant year in the company’s evolution when a second management buy-out saw George Leslie Jnr retire, with John McNaught leading the MBO and taking over as Managing Director. George stayed on with the company until 2011 as Honorary Chairman.
Our Bonnyrigg satellite office opened in 2004 to manage the growing workload in the east of Scotland.
In 2005, George Leslie were awarded the contract for Albert Quay reconstruction by Aberdeen Harbour Board. At £4m, this was the largest marine works contract undertaken by George Leslie. Brian Findlay retired from the Board in this year.
George Leslie were consolidating their place in the Scottish civil engineering industry and building a strong reputation with some prestigious projects, including the reconstruction of the Montgarrie Bridge over the river Don in Aberdeenshire, which merited a royal opening ceremony by the Earl of Wessex.
The latter part of the 2000’s saw a continual steady growth in turnover, with an expanding client base, although the water sector and marine works continued to be mainstays of George Leslie’s activities.
With over 60 years’ service to the company between them, John McCormack and Gordon McIntosh retired from the Board in June 2009, although both stayed on in a consultative capacity for a short time thereafter. Having joined George Leslie in 2001 and 2004 respectively, David Ross and Neil Doherty were appointed Company Directors at this time.
BY 2010 AND WITH OUR ANNUAL TURNOVER AT £37M, GEORGE LESLIE WERE APPOINTED AS BOTH INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPITAL MAINTENANCE PARTNER FOR SCOTTISH WATER’S 2010-2015 DELIVERY FRAMEWORK.
2012 saw George Leslie embark upon the first of several programmes of storm overflow interventions for Scottish Water, upgrading the sewer network under the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategy Drainage Partnership (MGSDP). The programmes would continue for six years with involvement at over ninety locations throughout the Greater Glasgow area.
Having joined George Leslie in 2002, Mike Gault was appointed a Company Director in 2013.
This decade also saw George Leslie significantly increase our presence in the marine sector, with the company delivering projects at Corran Ferry, Craignure, Lochranza and Wemyss Bay to name a few. In 2015, we were awarded the Brodick Ferry Terminal Reconstruction contract from Caledonian Marine Assets Ltd (CMAL). At £23m, it was the largest single contract undertaken by GL. In the same year, we were appointed Tier 1 delivery partner for Scottish Water for the 2015-2021 regulatory period.
After successful completion of the Brodick Ferry Terminal and building on our marine/linkspan expertise, George Leslie were awarded the contract for Oban Ferry Terminal Linkspan Replacement in 2018. This would be one of a number of marine linkspan contracts on the West Coast of Scotland, which continued with the design, fabrication, and installation of new linkspans on the islands of Coll, Tiree and then at Gourock for CMAL.
Iain Burrows retired from the Board in 2018 after 33 years’ service and in the same year, Tony Fry joined as a Company Director.
In September 2019, the company was to undergo its next stage of evolution when John McNaught retired after 19 years’ service with George Leslie. David Ross took over as Managing Director, leading the MBO and new Board of Directors consisting of Mike Gault, Neil Doherty and Tony Fry in September of that year. Like George, John stayed on as Honorary Chairman until December 2020.
The company has continued to see strong growth, with annual turnover rising to £50M+
After the successful completion of the MBO in late 2019, the early 2020’s presented challenges with the emergence of Covid-19 and the untimely passing of our Company Director, colleague and friend, Neil Doherty.
Despite the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had across the industry, country and the world, the 2020’s commence with George Leslie continuing to maintain our organic growth, supporting the health and wellbeing of our people and securing workload to ensure the continued success of the company .
Developing our strategy of consolidating our position in the Water and Marines sectors (securing a 6 plus 6 year framework with Scottish Water and marine projects with CMAL and the Western Isles Council), whilst diversifying into other areas that suit our skillset, the start of 2020 saw George Leslie secure projects within the energy sector.