Under invitation in 2019, Southgate & Sarabia attended a five-day visit to Virginia USA with other industrial clients from the UK and our UK liaison contact. Our trip would allow us to see facilities across the State and to see our client’s site in Virginia located on Cyber Park, helping to reinforce our knowledge and understanding globally of Advanced Manufacturing in The Fourth Revolution. We nearly didn’t make it with our Audi A6 taxi breaking down on the M40; gearbox somewhere on the motorway two junctions earlier – we were forty minutes from Heathrow. Luckily an Uber picked us up on the hard-shoulder and got us there on time.
The joy of landing at Washington Dullas airport, opened in 1962 and designed by Finnish-American Eero Saarinen, with its graceful and elegant concrete structure made up for the 3hr queue moving through customs to be questioned, looked up and down, to be told you can enter the country with zero emotion. Good job we got through as we had high tea planned with the Governor of the State. Unfortunately, we missed out because of the extended delay in the airport. We transferred to Danville from Washington by private 10 seater twin prop, the smallest plane you can imagine! On arrival and beyond the hospitality was superb, well organised and considered, such super service and attention to detail. Truly outstanding.
It’s clear our American cousins take inward investment seriously and invest significant time and resources into making activities and ventures happen. The attention to detail and hosting has given me a significant insight to why they can be so disappointed with the UK and Europe when the service can be so indifferent. Our visit included seeing many buildings and meeting the great and the good of the County regions. In the first few days we visited Advanced Training Facilities, Rolls-Royce Crosspointe, The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing CCAM, a sibling of the AxRC programme, the Haas Centre, Colleges and other major industrialists that have made the move to the USA in Counties from Halifax to Patrick County.
College-based Advanced Manufacturing training is intense and very much tailored to the individual, with machines for individuals to mitigate alpha student dominance and give all students a chance to excel. The quality of work was high. It’s also worth remarking that every student seems to have a four by four truck with enhanced engines, the car park was packed with these ‘tonka-toys’.
From the first evening we ate well! Prime rib, barbequed chicken, steaks and very tasty vegetables too! The second evening we were guests of the Danville Business Community with sit down dinner and speeches. Sat with eminent individuals that knew more than I did about the UK and also had strong views on Brexit!
Southgate & Sarabia, though its conduit, has links to lawyers, funders, investors, constructors, designers in Virginia USA to help businesses expand into the State and we can design facilities accordingly, working closely with our USA Designers and Construction Company partner, the design and build form of procurement is easy and transparent and surprisingly affordable.
As we get into the design and development over the coming weeks of our client’s new factory, we have started a design dialogue around 3D printing our client’s building using their technology for both printing and near-net forming. Although the building may not be fully printed, the excitement around how we could produce components and cladding has given this project a new direction. The lessons learnt here will help inform our modular projects in the UK, two of which have just gone into their respective planning authorities for approval. The mechanisation and digitisation of construction is inevitable, I’m sure a new artistry will develop and create the architectural delight we love and cherish.
Reciprocated visits have already begun with a US delegation over in the north of England recently, taking in English beer and seeing how we do things over here, meeting industrialists again in the pursuit of their American dream.