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Specialist Contractor of the Year (turnover over £25m): Winner

Winner: Keltbray

Keltbray has secured this year’s trophy for Specialist Contractor with a turnover over £25m after impressing the judges with its growth, strategic planning and approach to health, safety and sustainability.

Still too often known as primarily a demolition contractor, Keltbray has over the last decade grown from a £7m company into a £270m business that has supplemented its demolition and groundwork civil engineering roots with environmental management, rail, piling and training divisions.

Its strategic decision to create a multi-faceted business that would see it through the next downturn has paid off: while the recession came a few years earlier than the directors had originally anticipated, the plan to spread its risk and grow its expertise was already well under way.

This approach has enabled the growth of a huge business, while creating and maintaining a strong company culture that carries across all divisions. Its ambitions have resulted in the Keltbray we see today: a mega specialist carrying out some of the most challenging work in the industry that is also well ahead of its five-year revenue and profit targets.

It competes to be the best in each of its 12 specialist businesses and creates added value through the ability to integrate its offering, but never confuses itself with a main contractor.

“Keltbray is a very impressive subcontractor that has taken a smart decision to become a specialist in a number of related fields, giving them a real differentiator”

Judges’ comment

Keltbray invests in its people – focusing not only on safety in what are unquestionably some of the most dangerous areas of construction, but on their health and wellbeing too. Recent initiatives have included training to help staff working in high-pressure conditions, and to smooth the transition from day to night working, as well as a successful focus on bringing down accident and incident rates.

At the same time, Keltbray monitors its diversity rates and benchmarks itself against the rest of the industry, giving the lie to the idea that some parts of the industry are inherently more difficult to diversify than others.

Outstanding work in 2015 included the removal of £22m-worth of asbestos at Battersea Power Station, and the successful project to lower the roof at Earl’s Court and dismantle it on the ground rather than work at height.

Keltbray’s emphasis on the importance of building strong relationships doesn’t stop at its clients: its approach to sustainability comes under the mantra of ‘People, Planet, Profit’, with an active effort to contribute to the betterment of the industry as a whole through contribution to industry groups and bodies.

The judges were highly impressed.

Highly commended: Van Elle

Van Elle demonstrates a clear and commendable focus on growth, profitability and a powerful culture.

The firm puts planning at least five years ahead at the heart of its highly successful business. This resulted in the addition of its rail division to its core piling and groundwork solutions, meaning it operates 365 days a year and deliberately spreads its risk.

The results of its ambition and strong culture are evident in its bottom line and the loyalty shown by repeat clients, while Van Elle also works hard to engage with young people and attract a local and diverse workforce.

Finalists

  • EIC
  • FK Group 
  • Mackley
  • O’Brien Contractors
  • Oktra

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