Former SNIPEF President takes helm at SEC Group Scotland

February 19, 2020

Former SNIPEF president Gordon Matheson has stepped up to a new industry role where he will continue his focus on bringing an end to payment abuse in the specialist engineering sector.

Previously president of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) for the 2018/19 term, Gordon has now been appointed the new chair of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group Scotland.

SEC Group is an umbrella organisation made up of a number of bodies, including SNIPEF and SELECT – the electrical contracting trade association – in Scotland. The group is campaigning for legislation to bring an end to late payments, mandate the use of project bank accounts and protect cash retentions.

Gordon, who owns Matheson Plumbing of Falkirk, has replaced Eddie Myles of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), who has stepped down after seven years as chair of SEC Group Scotland. Gordon is joined in his new role by former Clydesdale Bank chairman Ken Lewandowski, who has been appointed executive chair.

Gordon, 58, founded his own business in 1992 after several years working for his father and grandfather in the plumbing trade. Currently employing 11 people, Matheson Plumbing has been a SNIPEF member for 27 years.

In addition, Gordon has been involved with the SEC Group for the past six years.

He said his own company is not as badly affected as some by payment abuse, in large part because his firm carries out credit checks on all contractors before accepting any work. However, it is a major problem in the plumbing trade and the wider specialist engineering sector.

“This is the biggest issue affecting the operation of any company – but particularly sub-contractors – in the construction industry,” Gordon said. “Think about it like this: what other businesses offer unsecured credit at such high values?

“Owners of these firms need to lobby their MPs and MSPs to make them aware of the strain that payment abuse places on individual businesses and the industry as a whole. SEC Group Scotland is here to help – one of my primary goals in my new role will be to achieve statutory protection of retention monies and legislate for all contractors to pay within 30 days.”

Retentions are monies withheld from sub-contractors to ensure that all work is completed properly. This cash is meant to be repaid once work is finished and confirmed compliant with industry standards.

SMEs in the industry regularly report late release or non-payment of cash retentions. In addition, research carried out by the UK government suggests that smaller firms in the construction supply chain are haemorrhaging almost £1m worth of retentions per working day due to upstream insolvencies.

The Scottish Government is currently carrying out an industry consultation on the abuse of retention payments in the sector. Both SNIPEF and SELECT are working closely with SEC Group Scotland on this and a range of other issues.

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