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Back in control

Names & Faces - After a trying year, Controlled Group MD Steve Forster has more business savvy, and 'fire in his belly'.

Shooting is both entertainment and therapy for Steve Forster.

The new managing director of demolition firm Controlled Group jokes: 'I discovered I enjoyed using a shotgun at a clay pigeon shoot last year. I keep one in case I meet any venture capitalists.' Forster has just emerged from the most turbulent 12 months of his life. Controlled Demolition, as it was called until a month ago, was scuttled when investor 3i pulled out of the construction sector last August. 'One day we were negotiating a £2M loan to fund expansion. The next day they pulled the plug, ' explains Forster. He and joint owner Darren Palin were forced to put the rm up for sale, and it was bought by a client who then put it into administration.

The ensuing battle to salvage the business precipitated a divorce from his wife and coincided with the severe illness of Forster's brother. 'The word stressful barely describes my life recently, ' he says. But Forster, who has just replaced Palin as MD, has restructured Controlled Group and got it, and his life, onto an even keel.

He is matter-of-fact about having 'made mistakes' running the old Controlled Demolition.

'We got carried away with turnover - we went there through an element of greed. It was a glory run led by the venture capitalists who persuaded us that that was the route to becoming millionaires. We didn't have the business acumen to see that they were sharks.' But, he reassures, 'we're not going there again. I've been through the full cycle of good times and bad, and now I can see bad times coming from miles away. I'm 41 and young enough to drive the company forward.

I've got re in my belly'.

The rm will turn over £12M this year, half last year's gure, but Forster says this is about right.

'I want to focus on providing a quality service for my clients but also for the people who work for Controlled Group. It's important for me that they enjoy working for it.'

Q&A Steve Forster

Career highlight: Surviving to fight another day with Controlled Group.

Career lowlight: Having my business sunk by investors and being put into administration last year.

Most amazing fact: I played football for England Schoolboys when I was 16 but haven't kicked a ball in anger since. I've recently started wondering why I packed it in.

Thing I would save if the house was on fire: My shotgun.

Top tip: Get your personal life right or it will wreck your professional life - and vice versa!

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