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Interview With Dave Edwards, MD of Chawton Hill

Chawton Hill turns 20 today, so we had a quick chat with Dave Edwards, our Managing Director. We wanted to find out a bit more about the last twenty years. How did Chawton Hill get to where we are now, and what’s changed?

Dave spoke to us from the middle of a busy day, ploughing through emails and enquiries from the many projects he’s currently managing with the team. Typically busy, Dave’s day sees him along with fellow Director, James, keeping a close eye on the various projects we have running.

Coincidentally, yesterday, Steve Holmes, one of the original founders of the business popped in to see how things are going. He’s still a good friend of the business and many past clients will remember his work in setting up the firm all those years ago.

The founding team came from a large multi-disciplinary practice. Smaller projects and the type of personal attention Chawton Hill like to specialise in were becoming less of a focus of that business. The team were keen to carry on working on the more client-focussed projects. Their aim was to provide a quality, director-led service, so Chawton Hill was born in October 2001.

Challenges and Opportunities

Over the years, the team have dealt with their fair share of challenges and difficulties. Not least of these was the 2007/8 recession, which hit so many businesses hard. Dave notes that the key to any adversity has been to persevere and keep going. This attitude certainly seems to have served Dave and James well, having grown to the established business they now run. 2021 is looking like it may be their most successful yet, despite the challenges of COVID. The team have worked hard to build on partnerships with long-term clients, while maintaining a focus on new business and opportunities.

Of course the past 18-24 months have also been a huge challenge for any business. However, Dave notes that the business was already set up for remote working. Many of the team were already able to work from home or working on-site for clients, so the shift to remote working was not such a shock.

The biggest challenge now is finding the right people to join the 15 or so strong team of surveyors and project managers based out of Chawton Hill’s Leatherhead offices. The skills shortage is something the entire industry is battling with, and Chawton Hill are no exception. Innovative approaches, such as apprenticeships and helping people to re-skill have added some great people to the team.

In the coming years, Dave notes that the team will need a new office. In keeping with many companies, the focus is likely to be on better meeting space and a focus on less desk space.

Congratulations to Dave, James. And thanks to everyone, clients and team members who have worked to make Chawton Hill the success it has become. Here’s to another twenty years!