Twenty years of service – playing the long game

Wythenshawe-born Paul McKeown took a gamble two decades ago when he left a job at Manchester Airport to join a start-up business set up to maintain Manchester’s newly developed commercial properties in the regeneration following the 1996 bomb in the city. Paul carries out high-level specialist cleaning via rope access and abseiling to Manchester’s tallest buildings. 

 In 1998, he joined Niel Bethell in a previous incarnation of the business which is now NSS Group. As Paul celebrates his 20th year of working for the group – which is now one of the largest facilities management services companies in the UK, he comments:

Back in the day, there was only four of us and my first job was cleaning the M&S in town. It was exciting but I couldn’t have imagined how much the business would transform over the next 20 years. The city and region has totally changed – and I’ve seen it all. On day one, our CEO Niel – not that he called himself CEO then! – could write all of our jobs on one sheet on his clipboard. No chance of that now as there’s hundreds of us out working every day across the country.

I suppose it is unusual these days to stay in one job for so many years but I’ve been so well looked after that I’ve never had a reason to leave. The group of lads I get to work with are brilliant and even as we’ve grown, everyone looks out for each other. Now that we’re part of a much bigger business, there’s a feeling of real security and knowing you’re playing your part in a success story. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had.


NSS Group offers a full range of exterior property maintenance services across the UK and has made a number of acquisitions before it merged earlier this year. 

CEO Niel Bethell added: Paul has consistently been an exemplary member of our team and I couldn’t be more pleased that we’re now celebrating him hitting 20 years. We invest in our culture and people and you hope it pays off, creating a great place to work and making a difference to people’s lives. 

“Once upon a time, 20 years of service would have seen the person presented with a carriage clock for the mantelpiece. To show Paul my personal gratitude, I couldn’t be more pleased to be rewarding his hard work and loyalty with a trip to Las Vegas and wish him luck in the casinos.  I certainly backed the right guy when I hired him in 1998.”