Preston, UK, was a hotbed of the industrial revolution. Located on the fringe of Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds, this city is built on rock and coal – 150 years ago it was all factories and chimneys. Today there is not much left of this heritage, but the buildings that do exist have been repurposed for modern use, like Sika’s Preston site, approximately 200 of Sika’s 1000 UK employees are based.
We Built This City on Rock and Coal
Mark Gatrell, who manages the UK roofing division, is one of those. He’s spent 27 years at Sika and feels the history of the region. “The office I’m in now is a refurbished cotton mill and there is a lot of industrial heritage on the Preston site,” he said.
It’s the mix of the old and the new which makes the Preston site unique – because what excites Gatrell most about working at Sika is the new technologies he handles daily.
Gatrell oversees the trading activities of the UK Roofing division, whose commercial activities cover the sales of four different roofing technologies; liquid-applied, single ply membranes, reinforced bituminous membranes, and hot melt; and adds around 6o million pounds of sales per year to Sika’s turnover.
"What really interests me is bringing all the different roofing technologies together into one powerful, integrated Sika offer that establishes the company as a serious player and leverages the strengths of all areas. Bringing together all the pieces of the jigsaw has been critical to driving success in UK roofing. For me, this provides an exciting and engaging challenge."
Research, Development and Quality
Liquid Plastics Acquisition Gatrell joined Sika by luck. After graduating from Coventry University with a degree in Chemistry, he became an R&D chemist for Liquid Plastics, a technology leader in applied roofing which was acquired by Sika in 2009.
Over the years, Gatrell has enjoyed several different roles at Sika. He arrived as an R&D chemist and then became an R&D manager in 2008. Later, he joined the UK management team and took on responsibility for both R&D and Quality across the entire country.
"There is a lot of opportunity here if you are open to new challenges and willing to go looking for it."
Team of the Year
“I certainly enjoyed the challenge of being part of research and development in new areas like concrete and adhesives. The opportunity to develop my knowledge in Quality Assurance and Control was another great experience,” he said. “We brought together the entire operation in the UK into a closer and integrated, and this taught me a lot about managing multiple teams and functions. It required flexible leadership.”
Ultimately, his team in Leeds was shortlisted for the “Team of the Year” at the International Quality Awards in 2022.
Gatrell also benefitted because Sika invests in its people. He finished an MBA in 2009 with the support of Sika and took part in the regional and global leaders’ programs.
“I see a lot of opportunity within the company and always felt that I’ve been suitably challenged and engaged in what I’m doing. There is a lot of opportunity here if you are open to new challenges and willing to go looking for it,” he said.
"Our teams deliver a consistently high level of performance which we can take pride in."
He believes that the “Sika Spirit” is more important now than ever due to the very difficult economic times in the UK, including high inflation and serious cost of living pressures. “That spirit and the way we look after our people has never been more valuable than it is today.”
He added, “We have a very strong brand and a clear identity. A lot of people over the years that have been attracted to join us, can see and appreciate the Sika Spirit and togetherness from the outside. Our teams deliver a consistently high level of performance which we can take pride in.”