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16 November 2017

Grand Designs of Perthshire member John Langley

Name:   John Langley

Position (Owner/Partner/Director/etc.): Owner

Business Name: JML Contracts & JML Garden Rooms

Business Sector: Construction & House Building

Location:  Auchterarder, Perthshire

Date established: January 2006

Number of employees:  22 full time

  1. How and why did you start in business? JML Contracts - Team   

    My father has a small construction business so I spent most of my school and university holidays working on site for him.  After studying at Aberdeen University, I had a few years in the offshore industry whilst training and competing as a rower with a Scottish based crew - our aim to make the GB Olympic team for Athens 2004.  Unfortunately we didn’t make the cut but enjoyed success at Commonwealth/International level for Scotland. I retired (at the grand age of 29!) and returned home to Perthshire and worked for my father whilst studying Construction Management at Heriot Watt University. Sometimes the pressures of working in a small family business are tricky so my father and I parted company (amicably!) and with the help of my wife Katie we set up JML Contracts at the beginning of 2006. 

  2. How did you get to where you are today?

    Lots of hard work, long days and late nights! Not uncommon to anyone starting and running their own business. We started out doing small civil engineering jobs with myself and two other employees (one of whom is still with us today, 11 years on).  We soon expanded into house building, choosing to specialise in an innovative construction technique called Structural Insulated Panels or SIPs. We opened our own SIPs processing factory in 2011 and this has enabled us to further expand our offering to include luxury garden rooms ( and our own range of low energy, Passive Standard homes.

    The FSB has always been a fantastic resource for us, alongside some great support from Scottish Enterprise and a brilliant Non Executive director.

  3.  Who helped you?

    My wife Katie also works in the business so we are able to share the highs and lows.  I am also grateful to our JML team – our highly skilled employees have been a key element in our continued success.  Other family members such as my father and father-in-law who both started and still run their own businesses have been a great inspiration and a constant for support and advice.  I was also lucky enough to be shortlisted to join the Goldman Sachs small business programme which ran for three months this year and provided me with amazing support and tools to take our business to the next level.

  4.  What has been your biggest mistake?

    There’s no doubt that you learn a lot from your mistakes and never repeat them!  So I try never to regret any.  However, if I had to choose one it would probably be not putting enough emphasis on our growth and long term business plans.  It’s very easy when business is hectic to get stuck in the rut of working ‘in’ your business instead of ‘on’ it.  Thankfully we have rectified all of that now and are clear on our direction and projected targets for the forthcoming years.

  5. What was your greatest achievement?

    We have been involved in some really interesting and challenging projects over the years, and a few in fairly inaccessible locations (some with only helicopter access!)  However, I would say the most exciting has been our recent appearance on the Grand Designs television series in October this year.  We supplied a SIPs house kit for a client’s two bedroom, Passivhaus in East London (allegedly the smallest two bed house in London!)

    JML Contracts - Filming Grand DesignsKevin McCloud and his TV crew filmed at our factory for a day which was a fantastic experience and the media coverage, website traffic and enquiries have been incredible following it. I think it really hit home to people the benefits of building in SIPs – offsite manufacture, quick erection time and its incredible thermal efficiencies resulting in minimal ongoing heating bills.

  6. If you were in power in Government, what would you change?

    Improve our building standards on insulation and energy efficiency for our new homes in the UK. Our current standard of newly built homes is really poor when we compare ourselves to places like Germany and Austria.  I would increase the amount of land and plots available to self-builders as they do in Europe. It’s this sector which will drive improvement and innovation as they really are interested in improved performance and not shareholder profits!

  7. What do you still hope to achieve?

    Continue our sustained business growth, increase our staff numbers and become a prominent Scottish housebuilder producing high quality, low energy/passive standard homes. We also plan to have one of the first ever Passive Standard, Carbon Negative factory in Scotland.

  8. What do you do to relax?

    Family time - with three active sons, we all enjoy our sports and are regulars at the Park Run in Perth on a Saturday morning – a great event.  I also have a rowing machine in our JML Garden Room and will escape there to chase the fitness levels of my youth – I’m still trying!

  9. What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on the TV?

    I’ve recently discovered the world of podcasts and am working my way through all the desert island discs recordings – some really interesting stories of success.  On holiday, I tend to have a stash of business books that I work my way through (slowly!) – I’m always looking for ways to improve our offering and the way we run our business. JML Contracts - House

  10. What do you waste your money on?

    I value our family holidays and time out from the business more and more as time goes on and being a sports fan, there is always lots of kit and clothing to buy!  I love to take our children to various sporting events and as well as enjoying it myself I hope it inspires them to believe that if they want something enough and are willing to put the hard work in, anything is achievable. 

  11. How would your friends describe you?

    Hard working, passionate and I’m sure a little disorganised!

  12. What would your enemies say about you?

    I am pretty self critical anyway, but I would really hope I don’t have enemies!

  13. What do you drive and dream of driving?                                                         
    Currently a Toyota Hilux pick up. Would love one day to have an old VW Karmann Ghia.


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