There were three strong contenders for this category - including last year’s winner - but FM Conway’s consolidation of its reputation for delivering on time and on budget and the testimonials it gets from its clients won the day
Described as a “true specialist with excellent testimonials” by judges, FM Conway spent 2014 building on a strong reputation for delivering projects on time and on budget and establishing itself as a company that went beyond client expectations. The firm has long-term contracts with 17 of London’s 32 boroughs and sealed a £450m eight-year deal with Westminster council in 2014. The company also won plaudits from Wandsworth council for completing a £1.5m, 13-week refurbishment of Putney Bridge two weeks early. FM Conway’s willingness to invest has been reflected in testimonials by clients, including TfL describing the firm as “more than just a contractor”. In October the company opened a £10m asphalt plant capable of manufacturing over 700,000 tonnes of asphalt a year using over 90% recycled materials.
As a firm that reinvented itself during the height of post-recession austerity, O’Brien was one of the stand-out success stories of 2013, picking up Best Contractor Under £300m at last year’s Building Awards. Since that triumph, the family firm has continued its repositioning as a principal contractor and finances have continued to improve in 2014, with a 78% increase in profit to a record-breaking £2.6m on the back of a 37% increase in revenue to £24m. O’Brien has also secured £11m of repeat business from clients, while the average project value increased from £874,000 to £1.2m. Last year it took on 20 new staff and doubled investment in new plant and equipment to £2m. It has also committed to 2,100 training hours in the current year, and supported 15 ex-offenders to return to the workplace by employing them on its construction sites and providing NVQ training.
With revenue rising 24% in 2014 to £127m on the back of a number of repeat orders, Bedford-based contractor SDC has reaped the rewards for delivering reliable performances and investing in its employees during the recession. The introduction of a more comprehensive BIM programme has led to better customer engagement, and by appointing in-house BIM champions in 2015 SDC is now placed to start offering guidance to suppliers. Alongside new after-care measures to optimise post-occupancy, this has seen the contractor enhance its reputation as a collaborative and trusted partner. SDC also re-invested its earnings into an employee benefit trust - the first of its kind in the UK construction industry - to distribute profit to worthwhile causes, and raise its corporate responsibility standard. That trend is set to continue in 2015 with the establishment of a training company and community fund.