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Bradford teaching hospital, which was highly complimentary about Yorkon's performance
Bradford teaching hospital, which was highly complimentary about Yorkon's performance

The academy’s choice in this category will not have come as a great surprise to anyone who knows anything about the struggle to bring off-site manufacturing in from the cold. Yorkon has been involved in that battle for 24 years during which time it has done more than any other firm to grow the productive capacity of the off-site industry. In the course of doing this, it has transformed itself into one of Britain’s leading experts on designing, costing, project managing and financing modular construction.

As a result, Yorkon has been associated with many of the groundbreaking developments in British construction over the past five years. The Peabody Trust’s celebrated social housing schemes at Raines Dairy and Murray Grove both relied on Yorkon’s expertise, and this baton is being taken up by Urban Splash. Then there is the increasing penetration of off-site manufacturing into the public sector, where Yorkon is helping to deliver projects such as Bradford Teaching Hospital, which was described by the client as “splendid”. But virtue is not just it’s own reward; money is as well. And in Yorkon’s case that means a rapid turnover growth, from £19m in 2002/3 to £26m in 2003/4.

Runners up

Fusion building
Although Fusion Building Systems lost out to the market leader on this occasion, it has been tipped by none other than professor David Gann of Imperial College as the company most likely to bring prefabrication into the mainstream. The firm is the brainchild of John Fleming, a multimillionaire Irish entrepreneur who is regarded by those who know him as one of the shrewdest brains in construction. He is planning to become the UK’s biggest provider of prefabricated housing, and Fusion, a light-steel frame system, is his chosen vehicle. Sales have gone up 20 times in the past year, so he may have a point. See you here next year?

This firm is working at the leading edge of one of the fastest growing areas of prefabrication: building services. This area has experienced much more rapid growth than larger scale manufacturing. What probably caught the attention of our academy was the commitment of the firm to developing well-financed and efficient factory facilities, the thoroughness with which it tests its products to make sure they perform on site and the way it has handled its work on Heathrow Terminal 5, the test bed for future construction techniques.

RB Farquhar
This Aberdeenshire firm specialises in the highly serviced areas of the house where tradesmen are most trusted to cock it up, and where, therefore, prefabrication adds the most value: the bathroom and the kitchen. The quality of the product is suggested by the list of prestige clients who avail themselves of its services, from Berkeley Homes to Tesco – for whom Farquhar branched out into modular buildings. The firm has ambitious plans for the future, too, and has recently opened a factory in the Czech Republic from where it will attempt to enter the mainland European market.

Skanska Rashleigh weatherfoil
Or more precisely, its Bedford Fabrications Division, which was instrumental in sweeping the critical path for the mighty Swiss Re tower in the City of London. It did this by prefabricating more than 100 riser modules in its Slough factory. These weren’t just any old modules: they were made to measure using the the most advanced computer-aided technology.

To back up its cutting-edge engineering, Skanska Rashleigh Weatherfoil has achieved ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 safety certification.