Self-made man Danny Lucas
Danny Lucas left school at 15 without a qualification to
Set books had not been his thing. Yet within weeks of quitting
full-time education, he was buried in business textbooks.
He joined his dad Sam in the family's spray finishing and
painting firm. But the Londoner who moved to Gravesend gave him son
"I started on the tools, up at five in the morning, seven days a
week," he recalls.
"I loved it. I could get out, earn money, be my own person and
not have to answer to teachers. It felt good. My friends were going
clubbing while I was soaking up bits and pieces about
Working on projects like the Harlequin Theatre and Lombard
insurance offices, Redhill, and Royal Holloway College, Egham, he
rose to foreman and contracts manager.
Cowboys, deep public suspicion of the sector, and
"subby-bashing" by large contractors blighted construction's
Danny realised that the firm had to stand out from the crowd by
upping its game.
Quality accreditation and insistence on quicker payment edged
the firm towards Danny's goal of making S Lucas "a Porsche" among
He moved the Wrotham-based company into fit-out work to
complement its coating specialism.
In 1997, Sam went to the States and made his son managing
director. It would eventually lead to a management buyout in
The firm has worked on high-quality projects for Blue Chip
clients - F1 team McLaren, Sir Robert McAlpine (Olympic projects),
The Shard, Emirates Air Line, the new cable car project linking the
O2 with Excel, The Savoy Hotel, Heathrow T5, Cafe Royal, Westfield
Stratford and the Cutty Sark.
Entrepreneurial flair made the family firm more than a
"lifestyle" venture, Inspired by Apple's Steve Jobs, McLaren's Ron
Dennis and Mace's Steve Pycroft, Danny has kept the firm ahead of
He insists his business is about doing things properly, creating
a desirable brand through quality and not selling cheap.
"I'm doing what Steve Jobs did, what Ron Dennis does. They've
got a top name for what they do. I feel proud of what I've
But he recognises there is more to do. His dream is to turn
Invicta Business Park, Wrotham, into a technology complex dominated
by the Lucas operation.
"Kent is a fantastic business location and logistically we
couldn't be in a better position."