Face to Face: ACO

Face to Face: ACO

ACO manufactures a broad range of surface water management systems designed to provide the optimum solution in storm water control and sustainable drainage systems.

These ranges are designed to suit many applications including parking areas, retail and commercial developments, highways, residential developments and airports and docks.

The portfolio includes oil separators, storm water attenuation and infiltration systems, traditional channel and grate assemblies, monocast and high capacity drainage systems, as well as solutions for environmentally sensitive projects.

PBM speaks with John Ryszkowski, Divisional Managing Director – ACO Water Management.

Q. How did you get into the industry and to your current position?

A. When I completed university, I never thought I would be selling drainage for a living. I wasn’t sure of the career I wanted to pursue so I needed something to ‘tide me over’. I secured a job with UGS as an internal sales negotiator and quickly enjoyed the pace, diversity and culture of the construction industry.

I’ve since undertaken roles with Hepworth Building Products, Wavin, Vent-Axia, and most recently as Commercial Director for ACO Water Management, before becoming Divisional Managing Director in April.

Q. How do you feel the industry has changed in recent years?

A. The market has become a lot more price competitive in recent years, largely due to the rise of online retailing. Now, price transparency is greater than ever, thanks to smartphone apps and webstores, which means contractors can quickly compare costs across a host of different platforms and as such, I think a lot of commodity products are now being purchased in this way.

However, where merchants can still add enormous value is through specialist product knowledge. No app can really compete with a specialist branch that know their sector inside out, and the same can be said for those general purpose and independent merchants who have really looked after and retained their staff, and in turn have built up their own community of loyal customers.

Q. What are the current challenges facing your company?

A. Flash-flooding is now a national, year-round problem, rather than one which is localised to certain areas or times of the year. As the existing national drainage infrastructure was not designed to cope with this level of rainfall, we need to find sustainable ways of handling excess surface water.

SuDS (sustainable drainage systems) technologies can provide a viable way of collecting, holding and releasing water to prevent long-term flood damage, but until they’re legislated for — rather than purely recommended under NFPP guidelines, as is currently the case — the UK may have to continue to rely on a system which is not fit for purpose.

Q. What are the challenges facing the merchant sector in particular?

A. Aside from the rise of online retailing for commodity products, I think talent recruitment and retention is a major challenge, particularly when it comes to encouraging the next generation to enter the industry over and above sectors with a more ‘glamorous’ perception, such as technology.

Across the construction industry as a whole, there needs to be more collective investment in apprenticeships and graduate programmes, as well as finding ways of enticing people from outside of the industry to ensure there is a continued talent pool to work with.

Q. What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A. The highlight has to be the appointment to my new role. Whilst I have always strived to progress my career, I couldn’t have imagined when I first started in the industry I would achieve such a position within a company of ACO’s standing.

Q. Finally, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

A. It would be great to continue progressing through ACO. Given we’re a multi-national company, I would like to one day take responsibility for another region within the ACO Group.

Q. Which individual has influenced you most in your career?

A. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great mentors throughout my career, but none more so than Richard Hill (the current Managing Director ACO Technologies UK). He’s been with ACO for over 25 years, and the company has seen year-on-year growth for the last 17, despite some turbulent times for the UK’s commercial landscape such as the 2008 recession. I’ve already learned a tremendous amount from him, and I am sure I will continue to do so going forward.

Q. What has been your biggest challenge so far?

A. Whilst the introduction of our daughter to the family has been a great challenge, being a Dad certainly offers rewards that no job or order can match!

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