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Tomorrow’s Company

Winner: O’Brien Contractors

O’Brien Contractors has been crowned Tomorrow’s Company for a multitude of reasons, most notably the foresight of the company’s management to invest in people and diversification at the bottom of the recession.

The company self-funded a four-year, £1.2m diversification programme starting in 2009, which resulted in the highest profits in O’Brien’s 56-year history.

Critically, this saw it move from only offering civil engineering and groundworks to offering a whole range of services that allowed it to move from being a specialist to a main contractor.

The strategy has resulted in consistent increases in turnover over the past three years, as well as rising profits.

The judges praised O’Brien for diversifying and investing during a recession, with the business taking an extremely long-term outlook to put itself in a prime position to take advantage of the recent upturn in work.

The company also directly employs almost its entire workforce, placing a strong emphasis on its people, and has a clear growth strategy to sustain its expansion over the coming years.

“That the company diversified and invested during the recession is extremely commendable”

Judges’ comment

This was far from the only impressive thing about the business: it implemented a clear succession plan two years ago that included introducing shareholding directors, and has taken steps to improve its customer satisfaction through acting directly on feedback, resulting in a customer satisfaction score of 92 per cent.

O’Brien has also invested in innovation and new technology, and has taken steps to further improve its relationship with customers through measures such as ensuring all clients now deal directly with directors.

“They clearly have a smart strategy and have had the foresight to implement a succession plan alongside an ambitious growth plan”

Judges’ comment

This has resulted in the top-end contract value for the company increasing from £6m to £10m, with public sector contracts now making up 40 per cent of its workload.

It’s not just clients the company is investing in; O’Brien recently employed a full-time supply chain manager to strengthen relationships and invested £35,000 in staff training in 2013, with plans to invest £39,000 this year.

Recent prestigious projects include the Nestlé Factory, Derbyshire, which is the company’s largest ever contract; work on Nightowl Truck Stop in Warwickshire; and the Aston Student Villages in Birmingham, where the team’s technical expertise and passion were clearly evident.

Sustainability and CSR are engrained in the company’s ethos and backed up by accreditations such as ISO14001, while also investing in a wealth of community support initiatives.

Highly commended: Scape

The judges highly commended Scape in this category for the company’s original approach and clearly articulated strategy, building on a new idea.

Scape is owned by six local authorities and has created procurement processes and standardised designs that have saved both time and money.

“Scape has a clearly articulated strategy, which is building on a new, original idea that has saved money for local authorities”

Judges’ comment

The company delivered 100 per cent of its projects on time and on budget in 2013 and has seen turnover rise significantly, with Scape now working with 265 public sector bodies.

The judges were also impressed with the client testimonials provided and the company’s commitment to employing local labour and subcontractors.

Finalists

A1 Flue Systems

Lucas

N A Curtain Walling

Russells Construction

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