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Takeover and investment sets up drilling firm for future growth

Precision Drilling was founded in 1972, but a recent takeover and major investment has seen the company expand its operations as it looks to grow in 2014.

Founded 1972

Location Hull

Specialism Drilling

Number of employees 9

Turnover £500,000

Precision Drilling was founded in 1972 as a plant-hire business, expanding into drilling in the 1980s.

Current managing director Ian Wilkinson bought the company from its founder last year and immediately made a capital investment of £100,000, purchasing a new Mercedes van, a floor saw for exterior concrete cutting and other machinery and IT systems.

“We get a better return on sawing, but there is less of that work around than drilling,” Mr Wilkinson explains. “It was a no-brainer – we had to invest, as we didn’t just want to make do.”

Niche area

Rob Robertson founded the company, running the business with Mr Wilkinson’s father for 15 years. After his retirement, Mr Robertson remained in charge until last year, when he sold the firm to Mr Wilkinson.

“Drilling and sawing is a niche area but not limited to one sector, which is good for the business”

Ian Wilkinson, Precision Drilling

Precision Drilling works throughout the country now, with a particular focus on Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North. Turnover last year was £500,000 and the company has nine staff, including seven drilling and sawing operatives.

“We work in a number of different sectors – nuclear, petrochemicals, renewables, highways and manufacturing – as well as other areas such as housing, flood defences and rock drilling,” Mr Wilkinson says.

“Drilling and sawing is a niche area but not limited to one sector, which is good for the business.”

Busiest period ever

The company is in the midst of the “busiest period we’ve ever had”, according to Mr Wilkinson. “We’re working with a number of new companies and clients on some exciting projects,” he says.

The company has been on site at Grimsby Dock with a Dutch firm on a wide-ranging project that went beyond drilling and saw-cutting.

“We’ve worked on pretty much every nuclear power station in the country”

Ian Wilkinson, Precision Drilling

“This was partly us looking to branch out from what we usually do but it also worked very well for the client, as they wanted to just work with one company, making it easier.”

Another important sector for the company is nuclear, for which it has provided civil and mechanical engineering such as seismic grade drilling for foundations.

“We’ve worked on pretty much every nuclear power station in the country,” Mr Wilkinson says. “We’ve been working across the EDF stations, including Sizewell, Hartlepool, Hinkley Point C and others.”

Investing in training

The firm’s investment has not just been in new equipment and new projects; Mr Wilkinson is focusing on staff training to provide a major boost to growth.

“Health and safety is obviously a big thing,” he says. “We’ve used a consultant to make sure everybody has high-level accreditation and CSCS.”

The company is also beginning to use marketing for the first time and is setting up a new website.

Precision Drilling is targeting growth in 2014 and Mr Wilkinson expects it to be a good year. The eventual aim is to get the business to double its turnover to around £1m.

“I expect to see growth across all sectors we work in this year,” he says. “Housebuilding is the biggest area and we’re already seeing an awful lot of work from that, including more from local councils.”

“Housebuilding is the biggest area and we’re already seeing an awful lot of work from that, including more from local councils”

Ian Wilkinson, Precision Drilling

The ABLE Humber Port and Marine Energy Park is providing a lot of work for the company, including contracts for the development on the south side of the Humber. The majority of this work will bear fruit in 2015/16, but some will start this year.

“We’re also working with the new Westfield in Bradford when that starts up,” Mr Wilkinson says. “We kept our ears very close to the ground so we were able to go in there and target them very early on.”

Focus on youth

With this growth in business comes a plan for expansion, with an intention to “gradually begin” working with training provider HETA on its apprenticeship scheme.

“We already have one former apprentice, Luke Yeaman, working with us full time,” Mr Wilkinson says. “We want to give youngsters a chance and a long-term approach is the only way we can secure the business.

“The main thing, I believe, is that most Precision Drilling workers have been with us since leaving school, and this commitment sets us apart. It’s a real privilege to be leading the company forward.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • As a small Demolition contractor myself with a similar turnover due to the recent recession, also having the same workforce for 25 yrs and now having to pay out for accreditation training via NDTG In the hope it stands us in good sted for the future. I am also looking to to expand our company and invest in new plant technology but find funding the biggest hurdle.
    I found this article very inspirational and wanted to say "Thanks " I'll start my day with more enthusiasm than yesterday.
    Dean Manders
    Demolition & strip out specialist

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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