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How the Specialists Awards can boost your business

The Construction News Specialists Awards are the UK’s only national awards for specialist contractors.

Recognising the best of what the industry has to offer, the awards showcase everything that is great about the UK construction industry’s supply chain.

The entry deadline has now been extended to 25 September, so don’t worry if you missed the original deadline last week.

We’ve spoken to two of last year’s winners to find out what made them enter, what winning meant to them, and how their year has gone since success back in March.

Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding

Founded: 1996

Location: Penzance, Cornwall

Specialism: Scaffolding

Number of employees: 58

Turnover: £3.9m

Winner in Access and Scaffolding Specialist of the Year

This was our fourth year of applying for the Construction News Specialists Awards, and because of our very recognisable work on Dawlish, we thought it was worth doing it.

We wanted to show that we can respond quickly to those kinds of things, and it can’t get more extreme than Dawlish – plus we wanted to promote the company’s railway work.

The face-to-face judging is petrifying to be very honest. In a way, we’re quite glad we had two categories to present.

In the first presentation, I think we were worse, and then we got used to it – the second day making our Access and Scaffolding presentation we were very determined.

We’d met some of the judges over the years, while others we knew nothing about.

They don’t really know anything about you, so you have to explain everything to get your point across.

It was good to explain all of our other work face-to-face, as we could explain it in greater detail, and I think we came across better.

For the night itself, we make it a big company thing.

We have a lottery for the tickets – all the scaffolders’ names go in the hat, we pick a couple of names out along with a couple of admin people, and everyone gets quite involved.

Some of them said they felt like James Bond on the night – we don’t see a lot of that down in our neck of the woods, so it’s nice for them to get some reward for all the hard work. The night was fantastic, and we really enjoyed it.

We’re on a really big project at the moment in Bristol – a rolling concertina roof on the head office of Lloyd’s.

The client on that project, Wates, heard of us through the Construction News Specialists Awards.

We got approached by them for a job in Penzance and [they] mentioned we’d won the award – it was definitely a door-opener.

Winning has raised our profile with different clients.

I know we’re from the depths of Cornwall, but we’re willing to travel, and it’s shown people we’re not just a small regional company.

My advice to others is that you’ve got to carefully decide what categories you want to enter.

You could just go for the obvious, but if you want to promote yourself for a specific reason, like your training or your safety side, you should go for those awards as well.

Also, be careful how you word it because you only have a limited number of them – you can upload a supporting document for the additional information that you can’t fit in the text.

Lynn Way is company secretary and financial manager of Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding

Metek UK

Founded: 2000

Location: Design – Stonehouse, Gloucestershire; Manufacturing – Wolverhampton

Specialism: Light steel frame

Number of employees: 120 approx.

Turnover: £11m

Winners in Structural Specialist of the Year and BIM Project Excellence

We specialise in light steel framing – we are the skeleton builders of the construction industry.

We also do lightweight concrete floors, which has probably been one of our biggest sales elements this year.

We’d entered the Construction News Awards as we were told it would be a good thing to do by one of our clients, Vinci Construction.

We then realised those awards weren’t really for us as we’re a specialised company and applying for the Construction News Specialists Awards was a better fit with what we’re doing.

We used it to thank the team and if we didn’t win we’d still have a good night out and pat ourselves on the back for a good year.

I thought the whole Specialists Awards process was very professional, including the face-to-face presentations, which was an exciting thing to be involved with.

You’re questioned by some of the top people in the industry, so to then finally win two awards on the night was the icing on the cake.

As I walked in to the presentation and judging room, I likened it to The X Factor, but was told none of them were Simon Cowell, which was good news.

The judges put us at ease – they said the hard work had already been done to get to that point and now was the time to just explain the system and why it worked on the points they’d been sent.

I think that, being an engineering/construction solution firm, we are always good at what we do, but we’re not very good at marketing and PR.

The benefit of something like this was that it gave us something we could send on to our client list – we had loads of people congratulating us.

We then got very good feedback about it.

The process was hard; people shouldn’t think it was a walk in the park.

There were lots of specific questions about accounts, about sustainability including U-values and Y-values, and you had to have all the answers.

Sometimes in construction, you can’t always be the cheapest solution out there, but when you look at a total business, we’ve invested heavily in health and safety and BIM Revit modelling.

So when you finally win an award, it shows you how well you’ve done.

We believe you have to carry on building your reputation – we’ve been doing it for 15 years now.

We’ve now secured probably 70 per cent of our turnover for next year.

We’re in a good place, we’ve got more tenders than we’ve ever had – you could say some of that’s down to the awards, but it’s also because the industry itself is coming out of the recession.

I think the most important thing now is that tenders need to be realised.

Clients and subcontractors need to work closer than ever before, so the subcontractor needs to be brought into the process earlier.

When that doesn’t happen and you’re in a firefight a week before the tender gets sold, no one gets value for money.

There are a lot of tenders, but they need to be turned into real work – I think we’re still six months away from where subcontractors are turning away work.

For people thinking of entering, I’d advise them to follow the questions and make sure you answer what’s been asked of you.

It’s so easy to say your company is great, but you need to look at the questions very specifically.

Overall, having the award on the bottom of all our emails has been great for us – everyone in the industry knows Construction News.

Oliver Rogan is managing director of Metek UK

Construction News Specialists Awards 2016

The entry deadline for the Construction News Specialists Awards 2016 has been extended to 25 September 2015.

There are 18 categories ensuring that whatever your specialism or size you can showcase your achievements.

This may be your work in a project of which you are particularly proud, a fantastic new training initiative or simply a first-class new business idea that sets you apart from your peers.

You can find out more on how to enter and the categories for 2016 here.

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