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From a field of very high-quality finalists, one company emerged a clear winner

SPECIALIST AWARDS

SPECIALIST CONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR : The Roy Hankinson Group ? Sponsored by Technical & General

SPECIALISTS are the virtuosi of the construction industry. They are the players whose special skills in their chosen discipline are brought together by the main contractor to deliver an ensemble performance.

But specialists do not necessarily play only one tune, as this year's overall winner amply demonstrates.

Hankinson Group started out as a simple painting and decorating contractor, but today its portfolio of services covers a broad range of activities. These extend from high-quality, craft-based work, such as gilding and marbling, to the application of modern industrial coatings on large structures.

Hankinson emerged as a potential winner of the overall award very early in the judges' deliberations.

The process of selecting the winner in each category began by the judges each awarding points for a number of key factors ? safety record, training policy, environmental performance, profitability and so on.

Hankinson's performance in all key areas was so good that, at the end of th is process, it was ahead of its rivals by a larger margin than any winner in any other category. Hankinson was clearly doing something right.

But it's not all about scoring points. The judges then delved deeper to find out how each f inalist had achieved its successes. Was it the result of a coherent strategy or was there an element of luck? And what was each finalist doing to maintain and improve its performance?

There was no doubting that Hankinson had planned for success. It produced a full set of key performance indicators across the whole business and demonstrated how it uses these to measure and improve its performance.

With its wide range of skills, Hankinson deals with an unusually broad range of clients, all with quite distinct priorities and requirements.

The client testimonials were all excellent, but one judge was most impressed by the glowing endorsement from the Highways Agency ? a notoriously tough client.

Hankinson also showed a commitment to sharing its knowledge and expertise with its clients. Longstanding partnering agreements with contractors like Carillion and consulting engineer Mouchel indicated a commitment to collaborative working.

There was little argument ? and no outright disagreement ? among the judges when it came to declaring Hankinson the overall winner. But there were honourable mentions for other winners too.

In particular Coleman, which won Demolition Contractor of the Year, drew a lot of praise for its excellent health and safety standards and its sheer professionalism.

And although there can only ever be one overall winner, the judges were at pains to stress that the standard of this year's entries was very high and not iceably bet ter than last year.