Celebrating 70 Years of Simons
In September 1944, two 16 year olds, Peter Hodgkinson and Harry Dunn, were sent by W&J Simons from Nottingham to Lincoln. Their job was to deliver services under the ‘essential works orders’ that formed the basics of the WWII Home Front Construction activity.
What started out as a couple of youngsters under military instruction became a successful, energetic and profitable venture. 20 years later, they bought the Lincoln Company they had created from the owners, removed W&J from the title and Simons was created.
Over the years, Hodgkinson and Dunn developed deep and trustworthy relationships with local Lincolnshire companies; Ruston Bucyrus, Mawer and Collingham and Lincolnshire Co-operative Society are all well-known brands for which these two energetic individuals delivered excellent services and projects.
Gradually, Simons branched out into offering services such as property development, design services, garage services and scaffolding. They also started to spread to new locations, and by early 1980’s they had 26 locations around the country. The business continues to be a mixture of projects, products, structures, people and relationships.
The projects that marked the high points in their first 40 years include unique structures; such as corporate hyperbolic paraboloids, multi-storey mushroom shaped concrete theatre entrances, refurbishment of old market hall areas and complex historic location remodelling.
In the 1980’s the next generation took over from both Hodgkinson and Dunn. With that the business changed direction, ownership and leadership. This was the time of Thatcherism, and the country was being radically reshaped. Simons became a national business looking after retail customers and offering a consistent service under the brand, no matter where in the country we went. This was not an easy change. From local cathedral works with city contractors to a national property solutions business required strong direction and great foresight as shown by Peter’s sons; Paul and Philip Hodgkinson.
During the next 30 years, with booms and busts, the reshaping of our ownership and specialisation in development of food retail and mixed use retail led town centre schemes; the company survived, refined and grew.
Today, Simons is a property solutions business, specialising in retail, distribution and health, offering development, design and construction skills for 15 selected customers. The third generation are about to join the business as shareholders, and some are already in the company. The scaffolding work at Lincoln Cathedral continues to this day, with the same employee having been involved for over 40 years.
After 70 years, the key parts of our DNA as a business can still be seen. With their roots from the previous generation, we continue to be customer focused with team strength, undertaking technical challenging property solutions, with collaborative working styles and continuously striving to improve. As we look forwards to our 100th birthday and see the company continuing to evolve, through transferring responsibilities and challenges to the next generation, we hope that these values and behaviours will endure and continue to make Simons the first choice for all of our stakeholders.
Executive Chairman, Simons Group