Facing redundancy? Tale of hope as Paul shows that losing your job can give a new lease of life

Paul Tedoré, Director, Fir Tree Project Services. Picture: Dorset Biz News.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: October 23, 2020 | Updated: 24th October 2020

Paul Tedoré is proof that being made redundant at 50 can give you a new lease of life.

In October 2018 – and after 35 years in the joinery, shopfitting and fitout industry – he was offered redundancy.

His story is a tale of hope for others who may be facing the loss of their job in the coming weeks and months.

Paul said: “I had worked my way up to Director position for a specialist division of an international organisation that was in financial pain.

“So, redundancy was not a surprise and I readily grabbed the opportunity to set up on my own.

“Losing the security of a regular wage, sick pay, paid holiday, company car, pension and health insurance was a little daunting.

“But I had a feeling fate had played its part and it was down to me to make something from it.

“I had always thought that I would become my ‘own boss’ in my mid to late 50’s.

“When this opportunity arose it seemed right, I had the energy and contacts to give it my best shot.”

Two years later and Paul, Director of Fir Tree Project Services, has never looked back.

He said: “I had been involved with a trade association for many years – the National Association of Shopfitters – and it provided me with many high-level industry contacts.

“Additionally, many of the clients I had worked with in the past had become friends.

“So when I announced that I was working for myself I had quite a few calls to offer support and work.

“That surprised me, often redundancy can come with a stigma attached that says you are ‘no good’ or ‘not wanted’.

“My career has been quite diverse, so some potential clients homed in on my bid support experience, others my estimating or quantity surveying skills and others my project management capabilities.

“In this way I was, in many instances, able to quickly start work within a month of redundancy and earn a wage.

“It was quite a surprise as I did not expect to see a wage for three to six months.

“In my whole career I have worked for six companies, with each move to climb the ladder.

“Every time I left on good terms, sometimes a challenge in itself.

“Additionally, I have kept in touch with people, some moved on themselves and started up on their own.

“Indeed, one of my customers was a Production Manager that I worked alongside who has his own successful business.

“Even the company I was made redundant from has produced joinery for a project I was project managing on a cruise ship, so I became their client.

“Throughout my career I have always endeavoured to maintain a professional, fair, and honest approach with people, from the client, down to the individual tradesmen.

“Every single one can be an influencer in your success.

“A quiet word from a fixer to the boss can make a difference to you getting the next project.”

Paul in the workshop of his Colehill home.

Paul, who has been married to Annette for 22 years, a fellow Director in the business, can trace his love of making things back to his childhood.

He said: “When I was three, I picked up a hand brace my Dad had been using and drilled a series of neat holes in the dining room chairs before anyone realised.

“From then on, every Christmas and birthday I would ask for tools and knew I was destined to be a bench joiner.”

Nearly half a century later – and now after 37 years in the joinery, shopfitting and fitout industry – his passion for the sector is undimmed.

Or, indeed, his belief that it is one of the best careers possible for a young person.

He said: “Youngsters have a preconceived idea that it is dangerous, cold and wet.

“I was doing a career talk at Corfe Hills School and asked if anyone knew what the earning potential was for a top project director.

“They were absolutely gobsmacked when I told them it could be in the region of £150,000 to £200,000.

“We’re not good at promoting ourselves to youngsters but they’re our future and we need them to join the industry.”

Paul’s career began as an apprentice bench joiner.

It quickly gathered speed as he moved into estimating and surveying before taking on other roles including Project Manager, Production and Operations Manager and Pre-Construction Director.

He’s also been Chair of the Southampton Hub of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) covering Dorset and Hampshire (2016 until February this year), a STEM ambassador and was Treasurer for the NAS for three years, and Executive Council member for eight years.

The last two years as Fir Tree Project Services has seen Paul, who lives in Colehill, travel across the globe working on projects ranging from luxury residential, marine outfitting, a fitout of Harrods and commercial and hospitality joinery projects.

But Paul says he has no ambition to grow the business beyond himself.

He said: “That’s partly because the company is me, but also because each client is someone I have known for some time – so I am the product.

“I do have enquiries from new customers, but those too are recommendations.

“It can be a fine juggling act to service them, and sometimes I am run off my feet.

“I also must be honest and turn work away, which can be difficult.

“Lockdown has been interesting.

“I am a limited company, trading for less than two years and, therefore, I was not able to gain assistance from grants or furlough myself, but I haven’t needed it.

“Throughout the period I have kept busy, averaging 35 hours a week.

“A little down on what I was doing last year, but it’s been a nice summer.”

Looking ahead, Paul, who has four children and three grandchildren, said: “The future of our economy is uncertain, whether you are employed or self-employed, I believe that we are in for a challenging time.

“I do not believe that anyone is in for a smooth ride, but I do think that people work with individuals they trust and like.

“There may also be companies that have to reduce overheads and look to consultants and freelancers on a temporary contract basis.

“Maybe more people will be given the opportunity that I was.”

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