Both our Founder and current Managing Director have taken DDS Demolition through to our 40th anniversary in 2018 in spectacular style.
Les Ray and Wesley Ray, Founder and Managing Director respectively, can look back and take stock of the last 40 years, appreciating the hard work it has taken to grow such a successful company.
We also know that behind every great man there is a great woman – the same can be said in this instance. Lorraine Ray, our Company Secretary and forever Mum to all at DDS, has supported both Les and Wes throughout their tenures at DDS Demolition and continues to support the ever-growing family business.
With the Reclamation and Salvage Yard opening in 1978 under the name of Downfast Demolition and Salvage, Les undertook smaller demolition projects to begin with. The euphoria of his first big job came in November 1978 with the demolition of the 90-year old Queens Hotel in Cliftonville, Kent. Les and a gang of 6 ruddy, hardened demolition operatives steadily razed the building mainly armed with their trusty mattocks and woolly hats! When we asked Les about those hazy glory days, expecting a wistful tale of times gone by, the first comment to leave those wise lips was “it was on the seafront in winter, it was bloody freezing!”. The tools for the job back then were a million miles away from the modern mechanical technology we use today, the Queens Hotel demolition also employed a crane and wrecking ball which only tracked one way – not a technique we’d generally use these days!
As the decades rolled on, DDS rolled with them, gaining significant momentum along the way. Our “Lifers” as we call them can relay many entertaining stories, most of which (regrettably) are not fit for print. Jay for example is great at enlightening the rest of us about Wes’ early days in the business….
Joining DDS straight from school, Wes started his demolition career as a labourer on site. With older brother Spencer initially following in Les’ footsteps at Downfast in the early days, the business really was a family affair and it is fair to pay credit to both brothers for their devotion to Downfast. As fate and shrewd business sense transpired, Les set up Thanet Waste Services (now TW Services) which Spencer proceeded to spearhead and grow into the successful recycling business it is today. As Wes continued at Downfast, whether it was learning about the salvage in the bricks, burning, banksmen duties, machine driving – you name it, he lived and learnt it. As his impeccably behaved (ahem) adolescence drew to a close, from the chrysalis emerged an enthusiastic, mature and focused Wes in his 20’s whose passion to grow DDS was contagious.
Moving into an Operations role in the office alongside Les, Wes became more commercially aware of the businesses needs, allowing the family to decide upon a strategy to grow the business responsibly and safely. They chose not to run before they could walk, our history and experience has always been in accordance with our capabilities – for example the first explosive demolition of Bexley Hospital in 2002 precluded the high profile explosive demolition of Richborough Power Station in 2012 which then fell under Wes’ time as Managing Director.
As MD for the past 10 years, Wes has steered the business through the evolution of demolition, throughout a time when Health and Safety needed a firm hand with a leadership team that embraced and valued the notion. With great intuition as well as a savvy and astute business mind, Wes employed the right people in the right positions throughout the company who to this day, still commit wholeheartedly to DDS.
Speaking for all of us at DDS Demolition, we look forward to “Setting the Standard” for the next 40 years.