When you set up Whitescape in 2011, did you know what kind of company it was going to be?
Andy: We knew we were going to be a different kind of construction company. Our vision has always been to build with intelligence, so we can give customers a superb product that really meets their needs. Sometimes that means challenging the status quo.
Ian: We are also extremely aware of what’s happening in the construction sector and what customers need next. Our whole company is an incubator for ‘operational entrepreneurs’ with their own startups.
Are those startups the reason for your impressive growth record so far?
Ian: Partly, yes. But we have also built a lot of business by increasing the value of projects we do for existing customers. In 2014/15, we quadrupled the scale of our largest construction projects, from around £500K to £2m.
Andy: This is where our success links in with our intelligent approach. If you do a job well – not just technically, but in a way that takes care of your customers – you build confidence, and people trust you with bigger, higher-risk projects.
How will you keep that growth record up?
Andy: By focusing on our key sectors – education, healthcare and residential – where we know there is a huge amount of growth potential and where we really understand what our customers need, in terms of the product itself and the way our people work.
Ian: These are very cost-sensitive sectors, so we keep our commercial wits about us. One way we offer better value is by self-delivering most elements of a project ourselves. And we keep our suppliers on their toes to ensure we get quality at the best price.
You’re a local company, focused on the south of England. Will you stay that way?
Ian: There is plenty of potential business in all our key sectors within this region. The opportunities are there to fulfil our growth targets, and we have the capability to secure them.
Andy: You can’t run a construction company like ours remotely. Our people are the source of our intelligent approach and that approach is rooted in staying close to our customers at all times.
It sounds as if you stand or fall by your people. Can you recruit enough of them?
Andy: Being local actually means you can spot talent all around you. It’s not all about grades and qualification. It’s about recognising the potential in people who can rise above the crowd and make a real difference.
Ian: We’ll give people as much responsibility as they can handle, and then a bit more to stretch their skills. With experienced managers and mentors, they can get up our career ladder by leaps and bounds, not just step by step.
So tell us what’s coming next for Whitescape?
Ian: Our aim is to become a £100m company by 2024, with ten enterprises under our umbrella, each turning over £10m a year. That means securing larger, more complex projects, a more integrated portfolio – and sustained margins!
Andy: When we reach that target, Whitescape will be one of the UK’s top 50 construction companies. And it will have taken us only 13 years to get there. We are all going to be very proud of that achievement.