Jack Laidlaw joined the family firm – John Laidlaw & Son building restoration company – from school at the age of 15.
He’s been there ever since, winning the admiration of his workforce and forging the company’s move into the scaffolding field, while at the same time enhancing its reputation for adopting the highest standards of health and safety.
Now he has decided to step aside to spend more time with his wife Marguerite and their family.
Jack, 66, described his time with the company as a ‘privilege and honour’ and is confident the family firm, now fronted by his nephew Allen Laidlaw, is in good hands going forward.
He said: “The original company was started in 1844 in Jedburgh by my great-grandfather, the original John Laidlaw, and was later taken on by my father Thomas Turnbull Laidlaw and was passed onto my brother Robert and I in the middle to late 1970s and we’ve run it until now.
"I stood down as a shareholder and director in 2013 and my brother took it on and his son Allen Laidlaw joined the board of the company in around 2018 and he now fronts the company.
"Both my brother and I started off as builders, masons, we’re mason-bricklayers really at the end of the day, and then in about 1986 I decided I wanted to start a scaffolding side of the company as well and I took on the role of scaffolding manager and that’s where I have brought the company forward on that side of it with health and safety.
"We now have masons, scaffolders, bricklayers, joiners, plasterers, employing 50 people.
"I’m proud of the way the company has upped its ante in terms of health and safety and has become an industry-leading scaffolding contractor.
"The scaffolding we have done has been quite phenomenal. We’ve done huge projects, including Lindisfarne Castle, Holyrood House in Edinburgh, McEwan Hall in Edinburgh.
"The fact that we have trained every one of the guys who work with us, right from day one they have come as apprentices and some of the guys have now been there 40 years.”
Jack added: "I’m 66 years-old and the bones aren’t quite as good as they used to be and the time has come to pass it on to the next generation.
"I’m just going to enjoy myself with my grandchildren and my wife. I like fiddling about with old cars, so I’ll probably do that.
"It’s been phenomenal. Fifty one years and three days. I was born on the second of May 1955 and left school at 15 in the third week of June and joined the company then.”
Jack’s role is to be taken on by Alan Armstrong, ably assisted by Kenneth Scott.
He added: "It’s been a pleasure and it has been a blast, a privilege and an honour.”