Winner: O’Brien Contractors
This Specialist Contractor of the Year category was closely fought, with the judges impressed by the quality of the shortlist.
Two entrants emerged as the outstanding candidates for the award, but it was O’Brien Contractors that came away with the crown.
The Midlands-based civil engineering and groundworks firm struck a chord with the judges right from the off with its impressive financial performance.
In 2009, the company’s turnover was £11m with profit of £73,000.
Its plan to invest, diversify, train, overhaul processes and focus on risks and opportunities has seen its turnover increase by 68 per cent over five years, with profit growing by a huge 1,893 per cent over the period.
The company also increased its average project value from £463,000 to £874,000 during 2014, and grew its turnover by 24 per cent, from £14.1m to £17.5m.
The judging panel said the company’s business plan has “led to a strong portfolio of projects and customers”, as well as an “impressive improvement in both top line and bottom line performance”.
“Groundwork is a volatile sector, which makes these profit figures look all the more impressive”
The judges were also particularly impressed by O’Brien’s clear commitment to investment - the firm spent £1.5m on plant during 2014 and in 2011, as well as investing £4m in training and technology.
The company also spent £45,000 on training its staff over the past 12 months, representing a 15 per cent increase on the previous year.
O’Brien’s £11m groundworks project for Nestle and John Sisk and Sons was praised by the judges as being “particularly innovative”, as the firm managed to save £800,000 on the original design and prevented 210,000 haulage miles through fuel efficiency measures.
The scheme was also completed with zero accidents.
Other major projects completed by O’Brien during the past year include work on New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, worth £2.5m; a £1.2m contract for Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering facility in Gaydon; and a £6.3m job on a Marks and Spencer site in Longbridge.
The judges also praised the firm’s diversification: O’Brien launched a sports pitch construction division in 2013, which is profitable and now contributes £3m to the group’s turnover.
Highly Commended: Britplas
Britplas was unlucky to miss out on top spot after impressing the judges with its enthusiasm and professionalism.
Specialising in the manufacture and installation of windows in the mental health and education sectors, the judges praised the firm’s innovative products and commitment to sustainability.
Britplas was “built on successful product development”, the panel said, and “is growing nationally and internationally as well as expanding its product range at the same time”.
Britplas’s investment in its Safevent windows has helped the firm to increase its turnover from £1.5m in 2006 to £11m in 2013.
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