Meet The Boss: Andrew Dawson, managing director of Dawson Landscapes

ANDREW Dawson has always had an eye for detail.

As a youngster, he would intricately stage father Patrick’s Dahlias for judges’ perusal at shows.

Loading article content

Those early days included 3am starts and journeys of 25mph to protect the prized greenery.

Today, he runs his own landscaping, play garden and maintenance company, which employs nearly 20 workers and carries out contracts across the UK.

But it was so very nearly different.

Fresh from school, he became an ICI boilermaker and then worked in rig yards for 13 years.

It was only when he was paid off from the latter did Mr Dawson really ignite his passion for horticulture.

Enrolling on night classes to brush up on his knowledge, he bought a wheelbarrow and used £500 from his settlement to launch Hartlepool-based Dawson Landscapes.

His first job yielded £380 and has proved to be the catalyst for great things.

The 16-year-old business, which is supported by sister operation, outdoor area developer Dawson Playscapes, does work for budget supermarket Lidl and local schools, and will fit flooring, stages and water features at the School of London.

He said: “I’ve always loved gardening.

“My father used to show Dahlias nationally and he gave me a little plot of land out the back to work on when I was younger.

“I used to go to the shows with him; he would grow them and I would stage them.

“We would have really early starts and would go down at 25mph so we didn’t damage the Dahlias.

“My dad had the hard job; it was easier for me to stage them and I could also fall asleep in the van too!

“He got a lot of best in show awards and it showed me the dedication that goes into it.

“I think it was where I got my eye for detail.

“When I was paid off, I had a wheelbarrow and £500 to get me up and running.

“My first job was in Stockton where I turfed a lawn and planted a hedge, and things just grew from there.”

Mr Dawson says the commitment of his workforce has been a major factor in his business’ success, revealing their craftsmanship secured the company top prize for block paving use in the national Marshalls Awards.

It was also highly commended for work on a driveway over 70-metres and came third in the contract of the year category, with all the nominations coming from a project at a private property in Newcastle.

He added: “People say I’m doing well, but there’s no I in team.

“Kevin Keegan, a real hero of mine, was presenting those awards and he congratulated me.

“I told him it wasn’t just down to me, it was down to the team.

“I’m doing a job I love and with us being so good at it, it is leading to bigger and better things.

“We’ve got big contracts and have built up a rapport with companies who are asking us back in.

“We can design and make things, but we have got the lads to do the installation too.

“It is a team effort, we are a professional outfit and we do a good job.”

Five minutes with... Andrew Dawson

Favourite North-East building and why? My home. It’s my castle where I relax.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? I was an apprentice boilermaker at ICI. I was on £21 a week.

What is the worst job you've had? I had a job at Babcock, in Glasgow. I drove up there to my digs, saw a drunk in the street and decided it wasn’t for me. I was there for an hour at the most.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I’d do a pea and mint risotto for starters, pan-fried salmon for the main and sticky toffee pudding and vanilla custard to finish.

What would your superpower be? I’d like to be able to see into the future.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: I’d invite Billy Connolly, Dawn French, Sir Bobby Robson and Freddie Mercury.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? A racehorse called Andy’s Girl. It’s in training now and will be running over six furlongs in the flat season.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? I’m not too sure yet, I’ve only just started using it.

Favourite book? I don’t read much now, but I remember Animal Farm when I was a kid. The quote about everybody being equal but some are more equal than others has stuck in my head.

When did you last cry? When my dad died four years ago. It was a few months afterwards when it suddenly hit me.

What is your greatest achievement? Setting up Dawson Landscapes and making it what it is today.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Treat every customer as you’d expect to be treated yourself.

Favourite animal and why? A tiger. My dad used to call me that.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? I don’t really have anyone famous in my phone. I’m just an ordinary bloke.

What was the last band you saw live? Take That at the Stadium of Light.

Describe your perfect night in. A nice home-cooked meal followed by a cuddle on the couch watching a film.

In another life I would be? I don’t think I’d like to be anyone else. I’m happy being me.

Who would play you in a film of your life? It would have to be someone ginger, so I’d go for Chris Evans.

What irritates you? People who aren’t professional in what they do; bodge-it-and-scarper merchants.

What's your secret talent? Dad dancing.