10 Years in the CEO Role

30 June 2021

Neil Ogilvie, 60, had been ‘on the tools’ for 33 years before his appointment to Chief Executive of the PDA in 2011.

Now, after one of the most challenging years of his career, Neil looks back on a decade at the helm of the 127-year-old institution.

He said: “We’ve certainly had some rollercoaster moments, but never a dull one! It’s always interesting and I’m lucky to work with a small but dedicated team with the interests of our Members, the Association and the industry at heart.”

Neil started his career with his family painting and decorating business in Wakefield, Yorkshire, which he later went on to run.

He personally joined the PDA in 1987 in his own right following the acquisition of the family business which had become a Member of the Association in the 1960s.

He became actively involved in the Association, becoming Wakefield Branch President, North-East Regional President and finally taking the role of National President in October 2009.

He was also heavily involved in both Regional and National Council and Executive committees throughout the years.

It was in December of 2009 that he also stepped in as Acting Chief Executive and – after steering the Association through some turbulent waters he was formally appointed to the role in July 2011.

Since then, the Association has kept pace with rapid change and innovation in the sector, with new emphasis on apprenticeships, training and sustainability as well as navigating the digital revolution and embracing new technologies, techniques, and products.

“We’ve achieved incredible things over the past decade and there is more that we’ve got planned going forward.”


Links to industry are also stronger than ever, with more than 50 manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and industry bodies having PDA Associate Partner status and with many offering discounted products or services for PDA Members.

Over the years, the Association itself has changed its organisational structure with Council and Executive Committees being replaced by a single Management Board.

Neil said: “I’ve overseen the launch of three new websites for the PDA, ensuring our worldwide platform is engaging and informative for Members, consumers and the wider industry, as well as working to retain the ‘family’ feel of the PDA by being accessible to Members when they need me.

“My experience in the trade has been invaluable in this role, and while I had to give up the family business to commit to the PDA full-time, I’ve never regretted it.

“There have been a lot of changes over the last 10 years – I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. We’ve seen the rise of social media and the influence that has had on our industry and our lives.

“There have been great strides environmentally as we strive to address the issues of climate change and throughout there have been concerns over the credit crisis, swiftly followed by Brexit and, in the last 18 months, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But through it all, we’ve done everything we can to support our Members, build stronger links across the industry in the UK and abroad and promote the Association as the first port of call for consumers looking for a trusted route to a professional painter and decorator.”

As well as expanding the wealth of services, discounts, and information available to PDA Members, Neil has been instrumental in shaping the Association’s Premier Trophy Awards and other competitions into the large-scale events they are today.

A move to Plaisterer’s Hall allowed the Premier Trophy Awards to expand, encompassing more guests and creating a glitzy celebration of the skilled and talented Members who enter each year.

In 2017, the 125th year of the PDA, HRH The Duke of Gloucester was Guest of Honour at the event – a moment Neil treasures.

He said: “The Duke stayed for the entire ceremony and met so many of our Members, it was fantastic. He sent us an incredible letter of thanks afterwards and it was truly a proud moment not just for me, but for the PDA as a whole.

“Another proud moment was watching one of our apprentice competition winners, Sandie Webster, take to the stage at the awards and give a speech about her career journey. I’ll never forget it.”

The Apprentice of the Year and Apprentice Wallpaper Hanger of the Year competitions have also evolved, with more locations allowing more young people to compete, and offering further opportunities such as travel to Europe with UNIEP.

And while the last 10 years have seen some major changes in the Association and the industry, Neil remains, at heart, the same enthusiastic painter and decorator who first joined the PDA in 1987.

He added: “When our Members ring up and speak to the team, I like to be on hand if I’m needed. We’re all 100% dedicated to the PDA and will roll our sleeves up and get stuck in when the call comes.

“We always like to go above and beyond for our Members, it can be a lonely business and it’s good to know there are people on hand with information or support with issues like tax, insurance or mediation with a client.

“We’ve achieved incredible things over the past decade and there is more that we’ve got planned going forward.

“I’m proud of the status the PDA has in the industry – I’m now a board member of UNIEP and that gives us a voice on an international stage, but I’m equally proud knowing that I’m able to be there and get involved if one of our Members rings up in need of help or advice.”