From the moment of its inception, a demolition company is locked in a battle for survival. Like a bait fish birthed into a pool of hungry sharks, some are eaten immediately while others are chased away.
Those that survive then face a new battle: a battle for recognition and reputation; a battle to win work from companies with far greater experience, far broader connections, and far deeper pockets.
Even when a demolition company has been around for long enough to justifiably describe itself as “established”, it still faces a daily fight to maintain a full order book, keep the wages and the bills paid, and to keep those pesky newcomers at bay.
But if the life of a demolition company is brutal, the death of a demolition company is even more so.
There is no farewell tour of the type that might be afforded to an ageing rock star. There is no testimonial match to say thank you to a beloved football player. Regardless of all it might have achieved and accomplished, a fallen demolition company quickly becomes like so much carrion; a carcass to be picked over.
Squibb Group has become the latest company to walk this sad, lonely but well-trodden path.
There will, of course, be a circling of vultures – The scale of the debt amassed by the company, the redundancies and the likely impact upon the wider supply chain will guarantee that the company’s remains are pecked clean and that its name is dragged through the mud.
But we should not forget or overlook the contribution that the Squibb Group and the Squibb family made to this industry.
Barking Power Station, the Imperial Tobacco building in Nottingham, the MG Rover facility at Longbridge and countless more besides, erased from the nation’s skyline by the skill of the Squibb Group.
There are buildings up and down the land that exist only because the Squibb team cleared the way. There are countless individuals that learned the fine and noble art of demolition under Squibb Group tutelage. And there are hundreds or even thousands of suppliers that have enjoyed decades of lucrative business thanks to the orders awarded to them by generations of the Squibb family.
All those years; all those projects and all those people. “All those memories” [to paraphrase Roy Batty in Blade Runner] “lost, like tears in rain”.
Amidst the bitter aftermath of the company’s untimely and calamitous collapse, there will be some who will tell you otherwise. But make no mistake. Over the course of three-quarters of a century, Squibb Group was a titan of the demolition industry and one of its finest exponents. And demolition is not for the faint-hearted nor for the incompetent. A demolition company doesn’t get to 75 years of age unless it is doing something – many things – right.
For some, it will be difficult to look beyond the current situation; the catastrophic collapse; and the impact upon both employees and the wider industry supply chain.
But, as someone that is not directly impacted and who has followed the company’s fortunes for years, I will be taking a different stance; a stance that I hope – in time – some may come to share.
When I think of the name Zinedine Zidane, I do not think of the head-butt on Italian player Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final. That was an anomaly, a tiny, momentary blight at the very end of an otherwise glittering career. I think instead of the skill, the flair and the artistry of one of the greatest players of all time.
I would like to remember Squibb Group in the same way; not for when it went dark but for when it shone so very brightly.