Cultivating Change in Milton Keynes’ Green Spaces – Craig Langford – Pick of the Bunch

At Glendale, we’re delighted to introduce Craig Langford, our General Manager at Milton Keynes, as part of our ‘Pick of the Bunch’ series!

Craig describes his role as engaging and multifaceted, when we asked him what he most enjoyed about the job, he went on to say, “Engaging with the diverse team members daily, whether it’s interacting with the MKCC client, Suez, or my own Glendale team members,” he says, highlighting his passion for people and projects alike. “I also find enjoyment in planning, leading, and organising specific projects, such as the ongoing Milton Keynes environmental services high-speed grid road maintenance plan that my team and I are currently undertaking.”

When asked about his work life, Craig doesn’t shy away from the realities of his role. “My job is varied and stressful and has a lot less to do with gardening and horticulture than it has with emails, meetings, finance management, and report writing,” he shares. But it’s the team spirit that brings joy to his day-to-day. “I am fortunate to work with an exceptional team that consistently brings laughter to my days, even if there are moments that make me cringe a little. Overall, the camaraderie makes the challenges worthwhile.”

Looking ahead, Craig has his sights set on strengthening collaborations and expanding in-house services. “Strengthen the collaboration between Glendale and our partners, SUEZ, in Milton Keynes,” he aims, adding, “I also want to bring the currently sub-contracted Arboriculture works in-house.”

His journey into grounds maintenance, Craig admits, was not straightforward. “I always wanted to fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming one with the lawnmower—grass whisperer, if you will,” he jokes. However, his initial ambition was to become a forester, a path that led him to a BSc in Forestry. It was only after relocating to the UK that he found his skills well-suited to grounds maintenance, eventually leading him to Glendale, stating “Given the limited demand for my sub-tropical forest management expertise in the UK, I transitioned to the role of Contract Manager at Glendale in Welwyn and Hatfield. After a few years, I ventured into new opportunities but returned to the company two decades later to lead the mobilisation of the Milton Keynes contract.”

When asked about one aspect of his job role that surprised him, Craig mentioned “Just how much I dislike Google and not sure why, but I was also surprised by how much time and effort it takes to manage people. Having mobilised similar type contracts, I believed I approached this role with a comprehensive understanding and clear expectations. However, somewhere along the way, I seemed to have forgotten that Grounds Maintenance is fundamentally centred on the staff—individuals, each with their own distinct agendas and concerns.”

Diving into a lighter topic, we asked Craig if he had three wishes, what would they be? His answers were definitely unique! “1, A bottomless cup of tea that never gets cold because, let’s face it, lukewarm tea is a tragedy. 2, A universal remote control that works on people, so I can pause awkward conversations or fast-forward through Monday mornings and finance meetings with Laura. 3, Google be gone!”

His decision to join Glendale was influenced by the company’s reputation and commitment to sustainability. “Glendale holds a prominent and esteemed position in the UK Grounds Maintenance industry,” he explains. “Upon learning of their successful bid for the Milton Keynes contract, I was eager to become a part of the team. I am convinced that Glendale’s commitment to green targets and objectives goes beyond mere formality – it is an integral aspect of their ethos. Unlike some other Grounds Maintenance companies I’ve worked for, where environmental promises often take a back seat when profit margins are at risk, Glendale’s dedication to sustainability appears genuine and steadfast. It’s a refreshing departure from the common practice of prioritising minimal effort when faced with financial pressures.”

Since joining Glendale, Craig has focused on continuous learning. “I am committed to continuous skill development. I actively seek to learn something new in every interaction with staff, colleagues, cohorts, and clients in the various departments. Glendale, with its distinct culture, policies, and processes, presents a learning curve that will require time and adaptation.  I have started to cultivate a diverse team and look forward to learning from the unique perspectives each team member brings.” he says.

Craig’s most significant achievement was in his early career, where he successfully campaigned for a 480-hectare tract to be designated for conservation, “I conducted comprehensive fauna and flora surveys, produced numerous reports and attended presentations etc that persuaded the company to prioritise the area for conservation rather than forestry”. This area, home to the endangered Dwarf Cycad, became a ‘Natural Heritage’ site. Craig went on to say, “Now, 35 years later, despite significant development pressures, the site has maintained its status as a heritage area. Its value is widely acknowledged and evident through the consistent influx of visitors, conservationists, and enthusiasts dedicated to the preservation of the Cycad.”

Addressing challenges at Milton Keynes, Craig focuses on cultural adaptation and inclusion. “Fostering a cultural shift among the new staff to align with Glendale’s values,” he mentions, is a process that requires patience. “Understanding that change is often met with resistance, I’ve encouraged feedback and actively listened to the team’s concerns. By incorporating their input where feasible, I empowered them to take ownership of the transition.”

Passionate about the Royal British Legion, Craig leverages his background in grounds maintenance to support their cause, particularly in maintaining war memorials, stating “Having served in the Armed Forces, I appreciate the vital work of the Royal British Legion and actively endorse their cause.” Glendale proudly supports those who serve, and Craig is just one of many veterans across the Glendale team so we echo his stance on War Memorials. Craig goes on to say, “Maintaining War Memorials and the Grounds around them to a high standard not only pays tribute to sacrifices but also visibly respects the memory of those who served.”

In his role, Craig believes actively listening to his support team is crucial. “It involves making an effort to hear everyone’s concerns and ideas before reaching decisions,” he notes.

Outside of work, Craig is a creative spirit, “I enjoy crafting wood sculptures, exploring various painting mediums such as pencils, pastels, and oils, and undertaking woodworking and sculpting projects. Currently, I am keen to venture into metal sculpture creation and am eager to learn new skills in MIG and TIG welding techniques.”

In his role at Glendale, Craig Langford combines a practical approach to management with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. Though the job might be challenging at times, it doesn’t stop Craig’s wit and humour shining through (as is evident in his answers!), and his desire to succeed and bring everyone together in our new Milton Keynes contract. A big thank you to Craig for taking part in this blog, he was a truly fitting choice to be our ‘Pick of the Bunch’ this month!

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