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Specialist Contractor of the Year

Winner: Oktra

Oktra began its recent remarkable growth following a management buy-in of Margolis Office Environments in 2006.

The company rebranded as Oktra in 2013. Since the buy-in, this office design and fit-out contractor has gone from strength to strength, growing turnover by 733 per cent over eight years to £31.8m.

The company has focused very strongly on creating the right company culture to propel this growth. The firm invested around £1,000 per employee last year, translating into 40 days of training in total.

“An SME with clear strategic vision and objectives for the future”

Judges’ comment

Staff morale is high, with retention at 98.2 per cent – partly driven by providing the latest technology. This has paid off for clients, too, improving the company’s offering.

An example is the firm’s new augmented reality and panoramic visuals programme, enabling it to take clients on guided tours of their property while demonstrating the potential uses of the space.

Oktra won and delivered 48 projects last year for clients including Baker Tilly, Creston, Just Eat and Kennedys, while securing 70 per cent repeat business and 98 per cent positive feedback from customers in the past year.

The company bids for work in London but has secured work across the UK with clients on a negotiated basis.

Creston’s new 55,000 sq ft office was a particular highlight. This saw Oktra help consolidate five companies from five locations into one new space in just 16 weeks, over two phases.

The project, along with other major schemes, contributed to a large jump in turnover from £17m in 2011/12 to £31.8m.

Despite this large increase, Oktra’s careful management of growth and staff numbers ensured it was ready, and the firm completed its most successful year of trading to date.

“A positive workforce culture is evident and Oktra is obviously working well with its supply chain”

Judges’ comment

Oktra wants to continue this rapid expansion, aiming for 10 per cent year-on-year growth up to £45m, with a 2020 vision of achieving a £100m turnover.

Expansion into new markets will be part of this growth, under the close eye of the company’s existing leaders and staff who are determined it doesn’t lose its culture as it diversifies.

The judges were “very impressed” with Oktra, describing it as a company with a “clear strategic vision and objectives”. They said: “A positive workforce culture is evident and they are obviously working well with their supply chain”.

Highly commended: B&K Structures

B&K Structures is 40 years old this year, growing from a turnover of £7m in 2002 to £24m now.

Before the recession hit, the company specialised in building steel frames, but it has totally changed its business to become the UK’s biggest provider of cross-laminated timber. It carries out all the same services as before – but now with timber as well as steel.

“Impressive performance after completely transforming the business”

Judges’ comment

Exemplar projects last year included work on Marks & Spencer’s flagship sustainable store at Cheshire Oaks and what is claimed to be the largest timber span in the UK – measuring 70 m – at Center Parcs, Woburn.

It is now moving on to build the highest CLT building at nine storeys. The company is targeting growth of 5 per cent turnover per annum, reaching £30m by 2018.

Highly commended: The Stonemasonry Company

This specialist stonemason has been growing step by step thanks to a move into building bespoke staircases using post-tensioned stone. The firm employs around 15 people and turned over £850,000 last year.

“A real specialist – the founder shows incredible passion for his work and a great deal of trust between him and his engineer is evident”

Judges’ comment

It has plans for sustained growth by diversifying into bridge construction through the use of post-tensioned stone – a relatively untapped market. It also aims to push stone in the use of mid-sized housing developments, as well as taking on an apprentice as it expands.

The judges were impressed by the founder’s “incredible passion” and admired the company’s close relationship with its external engineers – they said “a great deal of trust is evident”, contributing to the firm’s success.

Finalists

A1 Flue Systems

Masterton

Metek

O’Brien Contractors

VolkerLaser

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