Studiotech Squad – Tim Ashley

Tell us a bit about your role at Studiotech …

I’ve been with Studiotech for over 17 years, and within that time my role has changed dramatically. Initially when I joined, we were very prominent in signage and we hadn’t really considered lighting as much. During this time my responsibilities lay with accounts, procurement, design and supervising fabrications, as well as project management. However, over the years, we have had new people join, and their enthusiasm and drive has led us down different routes which has been really exciting. Nowadays, though my role is still focused on engineering and design, I am still heavily client facing and involved in operations. It is a very varied role.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My job is incredibly unpredictable, so there is no simple answer. In fact, there is no typical day for any of us. None of us ever know exactly what the next day will bring, as what we do is so diverse so we just have to be prepared to encounter the variety of challenges each new day presents.

And, how has your typical day changed over the last 18 months?

The first couple of weeks of lockdown were very challenging as we were getting everybody set up at home and adjusting to our new work dynamic. However, in the following weeks, we received an unprecedented number of enquiries and our success rate in the last 18 months has been phenomenal. Working from home has enabled flexibility for us all- it’s even allowed Umar Asghar, one of our lead designers, to relocate to Qatar and continue working for Studiotech full time. In fact, the pandemic has allowed our productivity levels to skyrocket. I’m no longer losing time fending off queries from others and instead can dedicate my entire day to turning out better quality work. We have all improved at what we do, and in turn the results clients are getting have improved as well.

One crazy thing that has happened when working from home?

My wife is a primary school teacher and was teaching her class remotely from our breakfast bar whilst schools were shut over lockdown via Microsoft Teams. It was a surreal moment during World Book Day when I walked into our kitchen to see her teaching a class, wearing a pair of horns, dressed as Malificent!

Tell us something unexpected about your job…

People are often taken aback when they see how much involvement I have. I am very hands on throughout the entire process, and when clients come on site, there’s a multitude of different things I could be doing. Whether it be in a cherry picker, unloading a van or discussing mechanical connections, I am always extremely involved in projects, more so than people imagine. 

What would you say is your favourite Studiotech project over the last 17 years, and why?

There have been so many defining projects throughout my career at Studiotech that have changed me and how I work, and as a result, each is special in its own way.

I would say my most recent project is always my favourite, because of the growth and success we are achieving and the quality of work we turn out is always improving. We are evolving so much and constantly pushing boundaries that each project manages to trump the last. Right now, it would be St Enoch shopping centre. It was a long time in the making – 2 years in fact, but I’m so happy to see the bespoke pendants finally installed and looking amazing in the space. I was hugely proud of the installation team who overcame every challenge. COVID meant everything was in limbo and there was lots of uncertainty surrounding the project, so it was really rewarding to see our visions finally come together after such a lot of time in the works. The end result is stunning, and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing fabrication partners, Sutton Creative.

Read more about the St Enoch project here >>

What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

Although I can’t say too much, we have some really exciting projects we are currently working on. There is a project in Leeds City Centre, a 40m long lighting installation that is suspended on catenary wires between two buildings. This is going to be sensational, due to the massive scale of the project.

What is the best thing about working at Studiotech?

The people at Studiotech really make it what it is. I’ve worked at Studiotech for more than 17 years now, and the enthusiasm and drive shared by everyone who works here has enabled our huge scale of success! I’ve been through all the highs, lows and in-betweens with the team, so it’s brilliant to be able to enjoy the success together.

Tell us 4 fun facts about yourself…

  • I have a real love of bridges, which I put down to my engineering background. I have a bucket list to travel either under or over the world’s most iconic bridges. To date, I’ve visited all of the UK bridges, as well as Sydney Harbour and the Golden Gate.
  • I was once on a flight from Australia to Bali and looked beside me, to find I was sitting next to Sam Neill from Jurassic Park. We had a stopover at Alice Springs for an hour and a half whilst the plane was refueled, we grabbed a coffee and smoked cigarettes whilst discussing a variety of subjects. It was a very surreal experience, he is a very clever man with a dry sense of humour- it was really enjoyable.
  • In 1988, I designed and installed a sign in for Theatre Royal, Manchester. The theatre was being converted to a discotech, however some years later it was then turned back into a theatre to preserve the theatrical side of the building and was granted listed status, along with my sign. So, as a result, it cannot be touched and is there forever. Though the sign sadly no longer illuminates, I’m still really happy with it as it’s a lasting impact I have left on the building.
  • I was offered a job by Disney in 1996, when they were setting up the Imagineering.  It essentially is the department that creates architecture and features for the theme parks. At the time, I was working for a signage company in Blackpool, and some of my work on Blackpool Tower found its way into an American sign magazine. An agency then sent me an application, before I had a telephone interview with the team in California. Although I was offered the role I didn’t take it, however I was extremely flattered to be considered to work at a company of such high calibre.