Gaz Bains: The Ideas and Inspiration Behind G-Deck Products
The success of G-Deck is a team effort, with every individual on our team working together to deliver the very best products and service to our customers because we are all passionate about improving safety and providing cost-effective solutions for the construction sector.
But there is one person on the team who is the inspirational figure behind the innovative array of products in our portfolio. Gaz Bains, our managing director, created the first safety decking system commercially available in the UK and, determined to make the concept even better, he developed the first G-Deck system to improve on his previous design. He continues to be a constant source of ideas and inspiration within the company and across the construction industry, so we asked him to tell you his story.
Tell us about your early career
When I left school, I went straight into an apprenticeship as a trainee lift engineer, so I had mechanical and electrical engineering training in a lift manufacturing environment. I was always good at maths and my apprenticeship included five years of study at college and learning from really talented and experienced people at work. Everything had to be accurate within 0.2mm and the people I was learning from were old school, experienced engineers who took pride in what they did. It was a great way to learn and gave me really good foundations for developing quality products.
How did you get involved in product design?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making and fixing things. As a kid, growing up in Leicester, we didn’t have many toys and I used to make things like go-karts and bikes for us to play with. If I didn’t know how something worked, I’d take it apart and put it back together again. In fact, I could do a full service on a car by the time I was 13. The beginning of my product design career was really there, in my parents’ living room, moulding pieces of plastic together and enjoying creating.
Once I’d done my apprenticeship, I could see that there was scope to turn my love of making things and my aptitude for coming up with ideas into an actual business. I’ve not had any formal product design training; it’s intuitive for me, which is probably why I have such an eclectic portfolio and I’m so driven to make my ideas happen.
How did you come to set up your own company?
I was just 27 when I started my own company – 3G Metal Fabrications – in 1996, and the reasons I wanted to start the business were two-fold really. Firstly, I was buzzing with ideas for products I could make and secondly, I wanted to provide a positive work environment where people were valued.
I knew there was potential and opportunity in my ideas and I have always lived by the philosophy that you should treat people the way you want to be treated, so I set up the company to make products that people would find useful and to provide jobs that respect the talent and contribution of every individual. Blue collar talent isn’t always recognised but, having come from a blue collar background, I have always put those skills at the heart of our business because they underpin the quality of our products.
Have you always designed construction safety products?
Initially most of what I designed was shop fitting products but that gave me a good grounding in delivering solutions from concept to completed product very quickly.
How did you begin designing construction sector products?
I was installing a newspaper display unit when someone came to fix an awning and we got talking. They were looking for a safety system, explained what they wanted and I designed it. That product became the UK’s first construction safety decking system. The system launched in 2006 and by 2010 I was designing a new version, which built up on my earlier design. That improved system became our standard G-Deck 3-in-1 product and from there I’ve also designed G-Deck Lite, G-Deck Dual and our latest innovation in safety decking, G-Deck Multi Leg.
What other products have you designed for construction sites?
All the products in the G-Deck portfolio are my designs, including the Access Hatch, the Lift Shaft Gate and the Universal Stillages. The more time I spend with customers, the more I understand what they need and I can come up with ideas and develop designs from there.
For example, the G-Deck Access Hatch came about when a housebuilder briefed me on what they needed and I went away and thought about it, then spent the weekend in the workshop and had a prototype to show them within a couple of days.
What makes G-Deck different from other companies?
For lots of companies, product development is a long and arduous process, but I take a very intuitive can-do approach – there’s no over-thinking it on paper; I take the idea, fabricate it and tinker with it until it performs the way we need it to.
I also believe in looking for ways to make things better. The first safety decking system I designed back in 2006 was very good, but G-Deck is better. That’s what inspires me to keep designing new products really; the potential to keep improving on what we have and make sites safer.
How will you build on what you’ve done so far?
We provide products that make construction safer, and we’ll continue to put people and safety at the heart of everything we do. My goal is to provide high quality solutions that are commercially beneficial for companies while keeping people safer.
To do that, we’re investing in new technologies that give us enhanced manufacturing capabilities and capacity. It’s important to me that we design and manufacture in-house, because that joined-up approach guarantees quality assurance and supply chain accountability.
I have plenty more ideas up my sleeve, so watch this space!