One of the hardest-fought categories in any Building Awards has been taken by a contractor whose turnover is growing as fast as its reputation

This award was aimed at firms with a turnover up to £500m. The judges were looking for evidence of success during 2008.


  • Leadbitter

Leadbitter's projects may be impressively diverse - the new office for Wallace and Gromit animators Aardman hopefully has little in common with an Ecohome development in Croydon - but its ethos remains consistent: the best service delivered with the minimum of fuss. Leadbitter's dialogue with its clients and thoughtful approach to sustainability have been rewarded by high levels of repeat work - relationships clients such as Sovereign Housing Group have lasted for 10 years. A key factor in its success has been Leadbitter's approach to its supply chain, with the company supporting the growth of specialists through secure repeat orders - an approach that means it always has trusted suppliers on hand. Overall, our judges were impressed by the “great attitude” of this firm, which after a series of well timed acquisitions has cemented its reputation as a major player on the contracting scene.


  • 8 Build

In the four years since its conception, 8build has grown from a five-person start-up to become a new force in the contracting industry: it now employs 71 people and has a turnover of £45m. The firm's rise has been achieved by a combination of ambition and a meticulous care for its staff - the firm has never had a reportable accident. It's a testament to the regard in which this firm is held that 92% of its business is for repeat clients.

  • A&S Enterprises

With a turnover of just over £8m, A&S might be one of the smaller players in this category, but its vision is quite remarkable. In the eight years since it was launched, this highly profitable company has benefited hugely from a decision taken early on to set up an in-house M&E arm. This enabled it to complete many of its projects early. It has also proved that partnering and joined-up supply chain management are worth their weight in gold.

  • Linford Group

After suffering a loss in 2006/07 Linford has enjoyed a reversal of fortune over the past year - and you wouldn't bet against further success in the future. It pulled off its turnaround by restructuring and posting a profit that was 380% up on its position three years ago. The company prides itself on “not doing dull”, and is living up to its reputation by creating a series of exciting divisions to propel its further growth. These include a “toxic projects” arm that can be parachuted into half-finished buildings or failing developments - a heady prospect indeed in these difficult times.

  • RW Armstrong + Sons

RW Armstrong + Sons has established itself as one of the leading lights in a highly specialised market - the restoration, extension and refurbishment of period and country homes. Its success is due in no small part to its commitment to recruiting and retaining the highest quality craftsmen - decades of apprenticeship training has resulted in a loyal workforce of 180 craftsmen, and they set this company apart as a master of its trade. The firm's city cousins would do well to learn from its approach, because where training is concerned, RW Armstrong + Sons is lord of the manor.

  • Shaylor Construction

Shaylor is a company that never stands still. Having grown profit by almost 30% over the past three years, it is taking its client base from strength to strength. Its employers now include such prestigious and high value clients as the Home Office and the Royal Mail. The latter selected Shaylor for all three of its regional frameworks - the only contractor deemed worthy of such a wide ranging role. Its acquisition of £13m-turnover specialist John Davies Interiors have given it a fit-out arm, and who would bet against further clients being won over by the firm's promise this year?

  • Thomas Vale

Thomas Vale is a shining example of everything a regional contractor should be. The Midlands-based stalwart, which is 140 this year, was responsible for creating 150 jobs in 2008, thereby providing a boost to its local economic. And those new employees can feel that they are in safe hands - Thomas Vale's success in long-term partnering deals with clients such as Birmingham and Wolverhampton councils means that it will have a steady workload for years to come.