Back in April 2005 I was a fresh faced 20-something not long out of University when I saw a job advert for a ‘Playground Designer’ in the Daily Post newspaper. Having completed a Product Design degree at Wolverhampton University then moving back to my native North Wales in 2004 this was exactly the type of job I was looking for, who would not want to design playgrounds for a living?! I can remember the interview with Keith & James still, I remember driving home and Keith ringing me later the same afternoon offering me the job. I had borrowed my parent’s car for the interview and did not have my own at the time, so it was a scramble to get one in time for starting the following Monday, if you grow up and live in North Wales, public transport is rarely an option!
When I was lucky enough to get the job, things were a little different to now a days. The main reason I was brought in was to turn the current/older designs, instructions and drawings into 3D files and designs. Up to that point all designs were in 2D form, some basic hand drawn information and some simplistic 2D Auto-Cad drawings. The office staff was somewhere in the region of 10-12 from what I can remember so I was the new ’3D designer, Product Designer, Quote producer, quote printer and letter franker’ all rolled into one! Tasks these days that are split between 4/5 different employees. I was able to choose the 3D software the company was to invest in, and choose ‘Rhino 3-D’, a significant investment for the company at the time and the same software we still use today
From around 2010-2015 the company really started to evolve in terms of growing workforce, how the sales team started to increase, and designs started to take on greater detail and more realism. The simple 3D designs of when I started were becoming more detailed, more realistic, and modelling environments in far greater detail. Buildings/children/trees/areas, even things such as golf courses, wheelie bins and full-size double decker buses have been known to be seen in the background of designs! All these help to provide the customer with a sense of scale and realism about how the project will look once complete. Around this time Creative Play also significantly expanded the surfacing options we provided to customers, in my earlier days it was just Playsafe surfacing, whereas now we provide additional options such as EPDM Wetpour surfacing, Rubber Mulch, and the ever more popular Artificial Grass, in numerous depths, colours and textures to suit various needs and tastes.
Myself & Tom Biggs the Design Director have established a good working relationship over the last 10 years overseeing the Design department and whilst I am a huge Liverpool fan, Tom is a Manchester City fan, and unfortunately in life some things cannot always be perfect. The department like all the departments at Creative Play (and a large majority of companies out there) was hit hard by Covid-19, we have all adapted in our own ways, for the last 6/7 years I had always usually cycled to work (yes even in the rain!), doing in the region of 80-100 miles a week but now I am only in the office roughly 1 day a week that means more cycling on the weekend to make up for, and less time sitting down enjoying a good coffee!
Now, as a 39-year-old, not quite so fresh faced and with a few grey hairs creeping in (not job related I promise!), and while there has been 100’s of changes in my 15 years (nearly 16!), Creative Play remains to me what it always has been and that will never change, a welcoming Family run business with good people at the core who care about the workforce and staff who in turn help the business succeed and flourish year in year out, whatever new challenges present themselves, and there’s been a few recently!