In a regular feature each fortnight, Caerphilly Observer is profiling a business based at the Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise. Welsh ICE is a hub for new businesses at Caerphilly Business Park and is currently home to around 60 start-ups. This week we look at MAR10 Geotechnics Ltd.
“Where there’s muck, there’s brass,” goes the old adage, and for one Caerphilly company this certainly rings true.
The aptly-named MAR10 Geotechnics Ltd is a geotechnics firm – a term probably unfamiliar to most of us.
“Geotechnics really covers the majority of products used in the construction industry in relation to the ground,” explained company director and founder Mario Sharley. “Anything to do with muck and soil.”
From landslips to railway embankments to supermarket site drainage – the world of geotechnics is all around us and it is an area that Mario has a wealth of experience.
After around 40 years in the industry working with some of the big firms, 57-year-old Mario was faced with redundancy and decided to go into self-employment.
He said: “I wish I’d done it earlier. I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of contact I have had from fellow colleagues and clients. It’s been busy.”
One of the projects Mario’s been working on is a garage in Tonypandy affected by a landslip caused by a burst water culvert.
The landslip meant the garage was heading downhill. Mario was contacted and working alongside a local contractor, Pete Morris and Sons, designed and built a 14 metre wide, eight metre high gabion wall using steel cages filled with rock – the type you often see on the side of roads.
It is just one of the many challenging projects Mario is used to working with and the entrepreneur is expecting to be busy with solutions being sought to the floods that have engulfed the UK through the recent heavy rainfall.
The challenge he faces though is not one of engineering skill – it is getting a foot in the door with contractors who may use a bigger supplier.
He explained: “If you order from one of the bigger firms, they’ll deliver the product onsite and that’s it. I’m going out to customers, discussing their options and then going onsite and helping them with installation and I’m hoping that approach will get the return custom.
“It’s old-fashioned customer service.”
Start-up hubs like Welsh ICE are usually associated with would-be internet entrepreneurs hoping to create the next big social media platform and Mario had reservations about being a “good fit”.
Mario, who lives in Hengoed and started MAR10 in November last year, said: “I had a word with [Welsh ICE chief executive] Gareth Jones and he said they needed people with a bit of experience to help the internet geeks.”
As Mario is self-employed for the first time, he too has had help and encouragement from fellow ICE member and friend Nigel Davies of Response Property Repairs.
He said: “I’ve learnt a lot from Nigel and at the beginning I had quite a few dark days, but he brought me out of it.
“There’s lots of people at ICE who you can bounce ideas off – but we’re not IT geeks. Nigel and I feel like the Muppets Waldorf and Statler of ICE.”
• For more information about MAR10 call 0330 122 2280, email email@example.com or visit www.mar10geotechnics.com.