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About Us

Our people at the heart of our business

Meet the Team

Ground Control has a skilled group of people at the forefront of our operations to ensure we are providing a high level of service, and that we are achieving the best results for our clients, our people, and our communities.

The expertise and knowledge of our on-the-ground teams is what makes Ground Control able to provide such a diverse range of external solutions to many different commercial sectors. Leading these teams in direction and strategy are our Directors – read on to find out more about what they do.

Board of Directors

Simon Morrish

Simon Morrish

CEO

Simon Morrish

Simon Morrish

CEO

Simon has been building strong operational businesses since 1999. Since leading the buy-in of Ground Control with his wife Kim in 2004, he has been heavily involved in operations, financial management and business development, along with acquiring four new businesses into Ground Control. He has also backed management teams and led investments in Excel IT, Solar Ventus, CQC, Survey Roofing and Litter Boss, along with investing in a number of other ventures in the US and the UK.

In all these ventures, Simon’s focus has been on operational efficiencies, cost control, alignment of incentives for staff and the financial engineering to ensure that the consequent profitability gains are magnified and broadly shared amongst the contributing team. He currently serves as the CEO of Ground Control, and as a non-executive director and significant shareholder in four other businesses.

Starting out at Morgan Stanley as a Derivatives Analyst, he then worked at McKinsey & Company as a consultant for four years. With his wife, he co-founded and directed How-Smart Ltd which was successfully sold to a larger competitor.

Simon holds a Master’s degree with Distinction in Economics, Engineering and Management from Oxford University and a Master of Business Administration degree with Honors from Harvard Business School. Simon was a recipient of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2018 UK award. He lives with his wife and four children in Billericay, Essex.

Kim Morrish

Kim Morrish

Director

Kim Morrish

Kim Morrish

Director

Kim led the search for and acquisition of Ground Control with her husband Simon in 2004. She firmly believes that people are at the heart of any successful business. She focused on bringing in new customers and attracting and retaining talent within Ground Control. She brought in large regional and national contracts with an array of blue chip companies, expanded sales into new markets and led elements of four acquisitions. More importantly, she has focused on making Ground Control a great place to work, with opportunities for professional progression and personal development. Along with running all recruiting for ten years, she developed HR capabilities, semi-annual conferences, team building events, professional development programmes and instituted company-wide, semi-annual parties for staff and their families. Kim has worked tirelessly to create a culture where people are at the centre of everything we do.

Kim served as a tenured diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, managing multi-million dollar development projects in Latin America, Central Europe and Central Asia. After seven years of public service, she launched the U.S. subsidiary and led U.S. operations for an international microfinance firm, IPC GmbH. In 1999, she co-founded and led Sales and Marketing for How-Smart Ltd., providing technological solutions to British estate agents. Before launching the search for Ground Control, she worked for Harvard Business School Interactive. Kim has been a guest lecturer on entrepreneurship the Darden Graduate School of Business, and Darden has written and teaches a course on Entrepreneurship about Kim and Simon’s acquisition of Ground Control.

Kim holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Darden Graduate School of Business, and graduated with a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Kim was a recipient of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2018 UK award. She lives in Billericay with her husband and four children.

Marcus Watson

Marcus Watson

Managing Director

Marcus Watson

Marcus Watson

Managing Director

Joining Ground Control in 2011, Marcus is passionate about service quality and bringing new ideas and innovations to the grounds maintenance, arboriculture and landscaping market sectors. With a focus on efficiency and delivering more for less whilst maintaining the highest standards for health & safety, Marcus champions quality, value for money and customer service every day.

Marcus holds a PhD from the University of Hull, an MBA from the University of Warwick, is a postgraduate of the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Joining BAE Systems in 1998, he led the aftermarket business for the Harrier jump jet aircraft. He was also involved in managing large scale military support projects in the Middle East. Marcus went on to lead the outsourced Operations at HM Naval Base Portsmouth where he was responsible for delivering support services to the Royal Navy. In 2006, Marcus became Managing Director for VT Education, a national provider of educational support services to schools, local authorities and central government. Under his direction, VT Education became one of the UK’s leading private sector educational providers, helping to improve the educational outcomes and life chances of over 200,000 children and young people across the UK.

Philip Trehern

Philip Trehern

HSQE Director

Philip Trehern

Philip Trehern

HSQE Director

Philip joined Ground Control in April 2000 as a Contract Manager, based in Dorset. He quickly seized the opportunity expand his role by taking on business development, compliance, training and customer care. His ability to adapt and think creatively has helped the company incorporate groundbreaking ideas and smarter ways of working. He became a Director in 2002 and invested as one the new owners following the Management buy in/buy out in 2004. He moved to Essex in that same year to be at the heart of the business.

Following his time at the Royal Agricultural College, Philip decided to try something new and exciting and so landed in… Saudi Arabia! Here, he spent the next three years refining the art of building landscapes within arid deserts, before returning to the UK. Once again he adapted to new environments, delivering routine grounds maintenance contracts to the MOD for Landscape Maintenance Ltd., as Regional Contract Manager. He soon sought out new business improving opportunities and introduced BS EN 5750 quality management systems, staff training programmes and created business development plans for maintenance, landscape construction and artificial sports surfaces over the next 10 years.

Jon Coote

Jon Coote

Director & Company Secretary

Jon Coote

Jon Coote

Director & Company Secretary

Jon is aged 66 and is a Main Board Director without portfolio and Company Secretary. He was the Finance Director until 2008.

Jon has been with Ground Control since 2002, participated in a Management Buy Out in 2004, and these days he supports his fellow directors by trying to ensure that the company stays true to its long held beliefs in customer service, enterprise and operational efficiency.

In many ways he acts in a non-executive role and since April 2014 has worked part time in the business, mainly from home. Jon is passionate about customer service and is very proud of his idea to start collecting customer written testimonials when he joined the business in 2002. Since then the company has had over 2000 written testimonials from satisfied clients. Another of Jon’s ideas which has stood the test of time was to reward our field teams when they ‘surprise & delight’ our clients through exceptional service.

Prior to joining Ground Control, Jon spent 25 years with Lloyds TSB, the last 16 of which were in a variety of management roles. Jon’s last position with the bank was that of Senior Relationship Manager, responsible for a portfolio of corporate clients in the South Essex area. He has an extensive knowledge of corporate finance and SMEs and is currently a Lloyds Bank Enterprise Mentor and a Fellow of The Institute of Enterprise & Entrepreneurs.

Outside of work Jon is a sports fanatic. He played soccer, hockey and cricket for many years and is a season ticket holder at West Ham and Essex County Cricket Club. He has been a member of Brentwood Cricket and Hockey Clubs for over 50 years and has worked in a voluntary capacity for both those Clubs for over 40 years. He is currently the Hon. Treasurer of Brentwood County Ground Club, a position he has held for 34 years. Jon is married with 2 grown up children, both of which worked for Ground Control during their school and university vacations.

Jon’s daughter is now living and teaching in Melbourne, Australia and he also has a Burmese daughter-in-law and grandson, so long haul overseas trips have now taken the place of more traditional holiday destinations.

Jon is a keen investor in small and medium size enterprises and has made several equity investments over the past few years.

Dereka Symes

Dereka Symes

Finance Director

Dereka Symes

Dereka Symes

Finance Director

Dereka joined Ground Control in 2008 as Finance Director, responsible for financial management and acquisitions across the business.

Dereka is a chartered accountant, trained at Andersens, and has over 30 years’ experience in finance and accountancy. Working in a dynamic business environment, Dereka has led the development, implementation and monitoring of all financial functions and systems to provide effective control and facilitate forward planning as the concrete focus for business plans to improve performance and results.

Prior to joining Ground Control, Dereka worked as head of finance in several SMEs, the most recent of which was Field & Trek, a multichannel retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment. During her time at Field & Trek, she implemented the successful restructure of the business, and was instrumental in the sale of the business to Sports World. She has also worked on a consultant basis, while her children were young, and still has membership to RHS, RAA, IWM and a Cineworld pass from the days when she found time to use them.

Dereka’s excellent knowledge of financial operations has seen her provide effective control in a range of dynamic businesses; both in times of rapid expansion and also during periods when review and consolidation of operations was necessary, including company restructuring and sale of business.

Dereka thrives on her ability to motivate others to achieve the best results, and is a firm believer that goals are key in leading and motivating a successful workforce. She admires an athlete’s motto heard in London Paralympics – “look upon the doughnut not upon the hole” which is not a bad way to live life.

Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes

Chairman

Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes

Chairman

Simon joined Ground Control in 2004 shortly after Simon and Kim Morrish bought the company, having been attracted by their vision to build a high service technology led FM company, looking after the external needs of customers with sites throughout the UK.

Simon has a 1st class Mathematics degree from London University and a Master’s degree in Statistics from the London School of Economics. Shortly after university he joined the Clarks Shoe Group and worked in a central strategy department assessing such acquisitions as K Shoes and Chaussures Ravel where he later became Supply Chain Director.

After 10 years he moved to the Storehouse Group initially as a Buying Controller for footwear in BHS but later as Divisional Director of womenswear and ultimately as the BHS Supply Chain Director including responsibility for overseas franchised stores. Simon’s core skills are in buying and supply chain and his core belief is that the most efficient supply chains are created by all stakeholders in the supply chain working in partnership even if they are not all working in the same company.

In 1994 Simon became Chief Executive of Mothercare UK and oversaw the purchase of Childrens World from the Boots chain which gave the company a significant out of town presence. After Mothercare, he joined the £6bn turnover retail grocer Somerfield firstly as Group Supply Chain Director and latterly as Managing Director of the Kwik Save chain.

In the later years of his executive career he set up the specialist supply chain recruitment agency BiS with a business partner and grew the business as it merged with the George Henderson agency to now trade as BiS Henderson. During this time he was a Director and Chairman of the local Brentwood Leisure Trust, which was a charity in his hometown, running the local sports centre, international concert hall, and local village community halls. He also chaired the alumni group at Royal Holloway University (part of London University) and chaired a committee which raised over £300,000 to convert an old Victorian Boilerhouse to a theatre space. He is an Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway.

Simon’s first sporting love was hockey and he was Chairman of Brentwood Hockey Club for 17 years but this has now given way to golf and the attractions of France, as learning the sport and the language whilst sampling the wine of Provence fill his spare time.

Simon is proud of his contribution in helping Ground Control to grow from an £8m turnover to an £80m turnover over the last 11 years and is adamant that its success is down to its hard working people who are committed to providing a good service and who work throughout the company as one team.

He has been married to Jeanie, who he met at university, for over 40 years and has 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren who fill his spare time.

Executive Directors

Tanya Meah

Tanya Meah

People Director

Tanya Meah

Tanya Meah

People Director

Biography to follow.

Andrew Hollyer

Andrew Hollyer

Sales & Marketing Director

Andrew Hollyer

Andrew Hollyer

Sales & Marketing Director

Andrew Hollyer is Group Business Development Director at Ground Control, with responsibility for supporting group sales, marketing, and brand & bid management. Prior to joining Ground Control, he worked in strategic business development, key account management and marketing for several blue chip companies.

Andrew has had a varied background. Starting out in the bakery industry in Stuttgart, West Germany. After several years, he moved back to the UK and joined British Airways where he held several positions within the catering division, including Assistant Head of Operations, Head of Internal Services & Head of Purchasing. He also carried out a number of overseas secondments including South Korea, which involved seven months in Seoul as part of a global task force to set up a new international airline catering unit.

Following 10 successful years, Andrew moved into sales and worked for some of the most prominent service providers in the UK, including Rentokil Initial (National Accounts Manager), Ecolab Global (Corporate Account Director), Connaught Plc (Group Sales & Marketing Director) and Green Compliance Plc (Sales & Marketing Director).

Andrew’s greatest strengths are his creativity, drive and leadership. He thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach.
He has achieved many accolades for his professionalism, integrity and knowledge of the business. In 2005 Andrew was recognised with the Business Person of the Year Award by Rentokil Initial for outstanding achievement in Sales and Customer Service. Other honours include the prestigious Ecolab Global Award for Business & Account Management and winning ‘Top 10’ status for client retention & sales growth out of circa 140 account managers, 9 years consecutively at Rentokil Initial.

Today, Andrew’s key responsibilities are the development of the team to increase market share both regionally and nationally, and this will be achieved by working closely with our customers and the operational teams to build and improve the overall customer experience.

Sim Hassall

Sim Hassall

ICT Director

Sim Hassall

Sim Hassall

ICT Director

Sim joined Ground Control in 2010 and is passionate about leading Ground Control’s focus on technology and innovation, focusing on the in-house development of bespoke software applications to drive productivity and better serve our customers. Sim has been instrumental in driving Ground Control’s commitment to real time reporting, recently leading the development of multiple mobile applications built on the Google Android platform.

In 2006, Sim joined SSI Computer Services in an ICT support role before joining WoodPlan, a company which designed and developed Arboricultural management software for local authorities, registered social landlords and private sector organisations. Sim also worked as a GIS and mapping consultant for the Crown Estates, where he assisted with generating spatial data for successful grant applications and environmental stewardship schemes.

Sim’s continuous passion for progression is evident through the developments he has implemented through his three years at Ground Control, which include the establishment of an experienced ICT team, the redevelopment of the key Winter Maintenance operating system, introducing 24/7 operational systems and network availability and developing an Android mobile solution to 600+ mobile workers. The Utility Arboriculture has also benefited from Sim’s incredible ability to provide technical solutions to simplify processes through his mobile GIS, tablet and PC-based management system.

Sim is meticulous in his work and admired for his indispensable technical expertise, while he is also a very approachable and well-loved team member. Previous to working in IT, Sim expressed his affiliation for music when working as a Recording Musician, and his creative edge is still in strong association with his day to day duties here at Ground Control.

Jay Hancocks

Jay Hancocks

Winter Maintenance Director

Jay Hancocks

Jay Hancocks

Winter Maintenance Director

Jay first joined Ground Control in 1996 as Assistant Head Gardener at Her Majesty’s Fortress and Palace, the Tower of London.

After many happy years at the Tower of London, Jay was promoted to the position of Head Gardener at the National Maritime Museum following Ground Control’s win of the maintenance contract.

Following a successful period at the museum, Jay progressed to the role of Contracts Manager, gaining involvement in some larger projects before reaching senior level and taking on the Anglian Water contract. Jay then moved from his home in North London to Essex to be nearer head office and more involved in day-to-day operations of running a successful multi-service business.

To exhibit ‘life is what happens when you are making other plans’; Jay became involved in running the Winter Maintenance department, which he describes as “a very different experience compared to traditional grounds maintenance.” With a wide portfolio of responsibility over the years, Jay’s experience just goes to show that working for Ground Control is less of a job and more of a career.

Jay’s key focus in Winter Maintenance is to exceed client expectations through effective service delivery.

Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Arboriculture and Rail Services Director

Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Arboriculture and Rail Services Director

Peter joined Ground Control as part of our acquisition of the Tilhill Landscape and Arboricultural businesses in 2012, and continued leading the Arb Rail division. He and his team have had great success in growing the Arb Rail business area from £2 million to £6 million in turnover in the 14 months from September 2012 to November 2013. Peter is passionate about delivering an outstanding service to our customers and growing our Arb business to become the market leading Arb services organisation in the UK.

Previous to his position at Ground Control, Peter graduated from UCNW Bangor with a BSc(Hons) in Forestry, which he followed up with his role at Fountain Forestry in 1988. During his spell at Fountain, Peter was able to display his ever-increasing talents when working on restoration and landscaping projects alongside highway maintenance work with focus on vegetation management and planting. In 1993, Peter undertook his first works in the rail utility industry for fountains which proved to be his forte when beginning work for Tilhill.

Peter was instrumental in introducing and developing the Rail Maintenance sector at Tilhill in 2002, with it peaking at an incredible £11m turnover per year. Once he was introduced to Simon and Kim Morrish following their inquisition to incorporate Tilhill into the Ground Control business model, Peter stated there was an “immediate connection” and was willing to invest to help finance the acquisition.

Peter is now responsible for our Arb Rail, Utility and Amenity Tree Divisions with immense experience in dealing with utility Arb projects in a variety of areas across the UK including the Midlands, East Midlands and East Anglia.

Alistair Wallace

Alistair Wallace

Construction Director

Alistair Wallace

Alistair Wallace

Construction Director

Alistair joined the business in 2012 as Senior Construction Manager before being promoted to the position of Construction Director in the summer of 2015. As Construction Director, Alistair is responsible for the strategic development and effectiveness of all construction activities across the UK. This includes a national network of teams, regional managers and procurement functions based at Head Office.

A landscaper by training, Alistair originally hales from South Cumbria. He qualified through agricultural college with an HND in Construction, and started out working on the Lancashire estate of acclaimed landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

From there, in 2000 he joined Vale Contract Services as a management trainee progressing through estimating and contract management to running the construction department for the North. From January 2010, when Ground Control acquired Vale, and then two years later Tilhill, he progressed in senior roles responsible for a growing footprint across the north of England, Wales and Scotland.

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