Growing up in Edinburgh, Scott Moncur was Hearts-daft. It helped that, for a couple of years, the team manager was his uncle Bobby Moncur, a Newcastle United legend who captained Scotland seven times. Scott never quite reached the sporting heights of his famous relative, despite playing the game as a keen amateur for years. Instead, he crossed the Atlantic, settled in the States, and proceeded to achieve in his own right. A qualified joiner and scaffolder, Scott worked his way up in the construction industry. As he became noticed, the jobs got bigger and more prestigious until he was asked to manage the largest ever scaffolding project in Florida – in Walt Disney World in Orlando. He has now completed several jobs at the resort and is a familiar face behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom. As he would no doubt agree, even for the people who work there, it is ‘the happiest place on earth’.
I grew up in Portobello when I was real young, then we moved to East Craigs. Bobby Moncur (above) was my dad’s cousin, him and my dad went away back. Every Geordie I meet over here asks me if I’m related to him. The one thing I know because I’ve heard it over and over is that he was the last Newcastle captain to lift a trophy. In the 1969 Fairs Cup he scored a hat-trick in the final over two legs. It was the only goals he ever scored for Newcastle.
I was a big Hearts fan growing up, and played for Tynecastle Boys Club. I wasn’t a great player, I grew up with asthma so I just hung around the fringes. I played for Craigmount High School and did all right, then moved to Texas and played for the Houston Rangers.
My brother-in-law and nephews all go to the Hearts games and, when I go home, I go with them. I go to all the sports over here, baseball and basketball, but I’m not passionate about them.
When I was in first year at Craigmount, my dad moved over to Texas and it was always his intention to give us a better life over here. It was what he wanted for all of us and he had five kids.
I ended up serving my apprenticeship as a joiner back home. When I finished my apprenticeship, I moved over to Texas when I was 20 in April 1988. I had to come before I was 21 to get my Green Card. I had left my job open back home but after two to three months over here I said ‘To hell with it, I’m staying.’
I was doing shop fitting in Houston and a couple of English lads I met in a pub wanted me to come and do a job with them. I did one job and they asked me if I wanted to go to Gainesville, Florida, to do a job there. I was only 22 and because of my experience as a joiner at the time, I was travelling all over the country.
It started picking up from there, I went from one job to another. It took me all over the country, so I was kind of lucky, I was young enough that I could do it and get the experience doing it. Then I took a job over in Algeria, and stayed for a year. It was hard because we were under armed guard 24 hours a day. Algeria had its own problems with the religious fighting over there. What you are seeing now, I got a taste of back in the 1990s.
When I came back I started working for myself. Then I got a phone call out of the blue from a guy asking me if I was interested in a job up in Washington DC as a construction manager. Well, I was dating my wife at the time and she said if you want to go and get a full-time position and settle down, then do what you need to do.
I moved up to DC on September 10, 2001, the day before 9/11. I was on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge the day the plane hit the Pentagon. I got there right in the middle of all that, it was just chaos.
Five years later, my boss in DC hired me for a large project in Disney, to take over all Disney work. It was the largest scaffolding project in Florida at the time. Now I’m working on another big project building a new water park at Universal Volcano Bay. The first one was the Contemporary Resort’s Bay Lake Tower (below), I got a construction award for that.
Scaffolding-wise it was the biggest ever project in Florida, it was amazing. After that I left that company and started up a new company with my old boss from Houston. Last year we sold out to the company I work for right now. I only had a 10% stake in it but it’s given me a nice chunk of change at the end of the day.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I walk into the Magic Kingdom and I think ‘I’m just a wee joiner from Edinburgh.’ It’s amazing some of the stuff I see and do because of it all. I drive in the back door of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and park inside the back. People don’t realise what goes on behind the scenes.
The difference in the work ethic back home and the Americans is huge. Over here they just take a job to get a wage, and they don’t look at things in terms of a career. In Scotland, you are always brought up with the belief that you must get a career. It doesn’t matter if it’s a trade or an office job, you are always devoted to your career path. Here they couldn’t care less, they will go out and find another job tomorrow. And I feel there’s no loyalty.
I’m an easy-going guy, I’m a big social drinker, I love going to the pub and that’s a part of Scotland that has never been taken out of me. I like to have a few drinks, and relax, and have a chat with friends.
It’s hard to say if I could have achieved this in Scotland. Maybe I’d have gone on the same path back home. I’ve been 29 years in America and it’s given me a great life. It’s been fantastic for me, I know that.