Andy Thomas and Ian Orton of Downing Construction. Credit: via Influential

Downing appoints operations director

Andy Thomas, formerly the construction firm’s technical director, will take on the leadership role as the company’s head of construction, Ian Orton, retires.

Orton has been with Downing Construction for 24 years. During that time, he acted as a mentor for Thomas. Together, the two have worked together on multiple projects, including Leeds Beckett University’s School of Arts and Broadcasting Place in Leeds.

Even though he has retired, Orton will continue to be involved with the company as a non-executive director.

Regarding Orton’s time with Downing, joint chief executive Sally O’Brien said: “He is responsible for the great team we have established at Downing; each member being guided through his experience.

“The whole team are immensely grateful for his loyalty and dedication, that has led to the delivery of many high-profile projects for us.”

O’Brien praised Thomas, too.

“Andy has been a rising star since joining us and is someone who was earmarked very early on as a future leader,” she said.

“It’s very fitting that having been mentored by Ian from the start of his career, he is now taking over the helm. [Thomas] has a wealth of experience and has played a pivotal role in some of our largest regeneration projects and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”

Thomas first joined Downing in 2007 as a senior quantity surveyor. He left the company in 2013 to work at Berkeley Group Holdings and later Mace. He re-joined Downing in 2016 as a pre-construction and technical manager, before working his way up to technical director and now operations director.

Thomas said that while challenging times are afoot, the company is prepared to meet “every one of these challenges with motivation and enthusiasm”.

“I am extremely honoured to take on this role within Downing and proud to follow in Ian’s footsteps,” he said. “We are lucky to have a great team which has been built and guided by Ian since it was first founded.”

Downing is currently on site constructing First Street in Manchester, a £400m mixed-use co-living project designed by SimpsonHaugh.

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