The maintenance operation will complement Benson's fit-out and general construction divisions. The company's business strategy will be to offer a one-stop property service with the maintenance division focusing on housing associations, schools and courts. The firm said it was close to clinching its first maintenance order, which it said would be worth £500,000.
The Mansell recruit is Paul French, currently operations director at the contractor's southern maintenance arm. He will start next month, when the division begins trading.
Alistair Sloan, managing director of Benson Group, said the division completed the group's range of services.
He said: "I want us to be building new-build work, fit-out and refurbishment jobs and maintaining properties. I have always had the desire for a maintenance business but have been searching for the right person to start it."
The launch of the maintenance arm is the culmination of another year of rapid growth for Benson. The firm said it expected turnover to increase to £95m for the year to 31 December, compared with £76m for the 15 months to the end of 2000.
The firm expects growth to slow next year, with its South-east construction division being hardest hit. Benson is predicting turnover for this subsidiary to fall from £32m to £25m with a loss of nine jobs.
Sloan said the quality of work at the South-east arm was not as high as at Benson's construction divisions in Birmingham and Southampton.
He said: "They didn't provide excellence on all jobs; things were not as good as they should have been."
Benson's short-term goals are to maximise profit – expected to be £1.1m this year – and to train its 240 staff. Sloan said: "There will be an element of growth next year, but nothing like in the last two years."
Mansell said it was not looking for a direct replacement for French – his role will be taken by manager Martyn Stephens.
Philip Cleaver, Mansell's chief executive, said the firm's southern maintenance division had halved in size to £6m this year.