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A New Hope . . . .

We have suddenly found ourselves travelling a path down which the destination is no longer clear. Whilst navigating through the recent economic challenges of COVID-19 Ian Grindey, director, owner-operator, and dedicated galley slave of the used to be one-man band ING Design Ltd, has laid the foundations for the future of his business.

With over 20 years industry experience, ING Design pay the bills with a varied mix of retail, industrial, commercial, and residential projects and some considerable reliance on part time help from fellow structural engineer Mandy Cook.

Having been on the design team for several award-winning projects, and currently involved in a 150-apartment mill conversion, and a public art installation on the banks of the Thames at the Southbank Centre, clearly being a small company does not hinder the realisation of big ideas. However, ING Design really come into their own when someone wants what can only be described by Ian as the “weird and wonderful…off the wall challenges where imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Examples of the ‘weird and wonderful’ include:

- For the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, Argentinian artist Jorge Macchi posed the question: “Can we get a shipping container into the Walker Art Gallery?”

- Empire Property Concepts asked: “Can we get two additional floors on the roof of this existing mill building?”

- Artist Liz West asked: “Can I safely install an interactive art piece in Spinningfields?”

And whilst most engineers might simply say ‘No’, I glance at Ian and notice a shift - his eyes widen, his body languages changes and I can see his expression sparkle as he describes the above challenges he happily accepted with a childlike enthusiasm:

“If you can imagine the solution and enjoy the challenges it presents then the marriage between a work/life balance becomes a blurry haze in the middle where enjoyment mingles with necessity”

Ian doesn’t allow the mathematical constraints of structural design to dampen his passion; he embraces the almost impossible and lets theory walk hand-in-hand with creativity. His enthusiasm is contagious and the zeal for his work makes you believe anything is possible.

Considering the recent economic uncertainty and the struggles of lockdown, Ian took the chance to reflect – on his work, on his client base and more importantly on the future. He considered several ways for future-proofing ING Design and never really settled on any; something just didn’t feel quite right, there was a palpable resistance to him hanging up his laptop. Ian has always believed that “with the right people, and the right technology, large jobs are achievable with minimal staff” and this is where I’m introduced to Charlotte.

Charlotte’s thirst for knowledge is infectious, she is the Luke Skywalker to the engineering Obi Wan, a true Harry Potter at the ‘ING Design School of Structural Wizardry’ but more importantly she is the first ever apprentice at ING Design and hopefully the key to their future continued success.

At just 17, Charlotte is venturing down a career path that will see her become a fully qualified Engineer, having taken her first step at Runshaw College studying for a BTEC in General Engineering and now embarking on a Civil Engineering qualification at Salford College.

Charlotte met Ian during a short-term work experience programme at Bradshaw-Gass & Hope. She was finding her feet and using the time to help her decide the next steps she needed to take. With her time cut short due to the restrictions of lockdown, Ian offered to continue to mentor her via correspondence and assist with further questions she may have and hopefully expand her development.

Fast-forward six months and here we are: “I pestered him…” laughs Charlotte “Text, email ‘what about a job?’, ‘What about this job?’, ‘Can I have a job?’”.

Ian eventually relented and replied: ‘Tell me why I should hire you?’

A test.

A crossroads where your average 17-year-old would walk away thinking ‘nah mate’ but not Charlotte; her tenacity and determination produced pages upon pages of reasons why and as Ian opened the email the resistant energy evaporated:

“I am a very spiritual person. I believe there is an energy is in everything we see, there is a collective force of energy in the structure around us, from the wood and steel to the atoms of power in a phone battery and we all know what happens when we split an atom. When I read the email from Charlotte something just felt right, the energy aligned…” I had never imagined being an employer, let alone having an apprentice. It just happened, almost overnight!

As I put my pen down and watch them sit across from each other and joke, the sum of the equation is clear – Charlotte is the solution Ian and ING Design Ltd were looking for. Her journey into a world of fascination and design will keep Ian busy, as an educator, a mentor, and business owner for the foreseeable future as the passion, knowledge, and energy flows from master to student and her abilities grow to fill his shoes. Eventually Charlotte will take ING Design into a new, as yet unknown future, but with a stable grounding, an open mind, and a love for the weird and wonderful, that future is bright.



Ian: 07961 748 933

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