West London-based Concept Engineering Consultants has been shortlisted as finalists in no fewer than three categories at the forthcoming Ground Engineering Awards. The recognition once again underlines the impressive reputation the company has built since its creation in 1997 and follows its success in receiving the Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year Award in 2014. This year it is finalist again in the Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year category having also achieved finalist status in the Sustainability and Project of the Year categories.
“We are delighted that the continued hard work and expertise of the Concept team has again been recognised,” explains Milan Dedic, CEO. “We survived the difficult times during the recession and following the recovery we expanded significantly in the space of two years in order to triple our turnover. Our staff worked extremely hard to achieve this growth, which, as you can imagine, required many extra hours of work and logistical coordination. The award nominations are recognition of the lengths our 70-strong workforce has gone to in order to get us where we are today.
“Part of our strength lies in our flexible approach, working with clients to facilitate successful project delivery. Our objective is to continually strive to improve our performance, and that of our industry, through every aspect of our work. Our aim at Concept is to supply high quality site investigation services tailored to meet the needs of all our clients.”
Established to provide site investigation, geotechnical/environmental consultancy, laboratory testing, instrumentation installation, monitoring services and survey work; over the years Concept has sustained steady growth that has seen it involved in numerous high-profile projects throughout the UK and abroad. As a consequence it has a broad client base that includes consultants, contractors, developers, construction managers, insurance companies, architects, government agencies and private individuals.
In addition to a prevailing commitment to delivering the highest possible service to clients, Concept has become renowned for being able to take on challenging projects that other operators prefer to shy away from, particularly in built-up areas. “Thanks to our reputation we tend to specialise in complex investigations in congested urban environments,” adds Anastasia Savidu, Managing Director. “We have a multidisciplinary team and cover all structural, environmental and geotechnical aspects that tend to be intertwined in such projects. We apply the extensive knowledge we have gained to enhance the quality and improve the standards of investigations for all developments, whether challenging or straight forward, providing our clients with appropriate and cost efficient solutions.”
“Thanks to our reputation we tend to specialise in complex investigations in congested urban environments. We have a multidisciplinary team and cover all structural, environmental and geotechnical aspects that tend to be intertwined in such projects.”
Anastasia Savidu, Managing Director
In terms of recent projects that demonstrate the qualities and strengths that Concept is able to bring to the table, its work on the three-month development of BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane perfectly showcased its abilities, especially as it featured many difficult elements. “It was typical of the type of work we generally carry out as it was quite complex with numerous interfaces with various different parties that were involved onsite at the same time,” outlines Milan. “It was a prestigious project with a significant amount of media interest.”
The Television Centre project comprised the phased redevelopment of the existing BBC Television Centre in London into a complex of residential and commercial buildings. Geotechnically the scheme consisted of deepening basements and the reuse of existing foundations and retaining walls. The design programme was tight and therefore targeted delivery was critical. Key to the project’s success was the understanding of the existing structures that were built over a period of 50 years and often share foundations.
“There was limited headroom and structural investigations carried out in difficult places and asbestos removal issues along with the standard challenges that operating in a built-up urban area entail, such as tunnels, road access and interfacing with the general public, as well as the tricky working conditions associated with the deep foundations exposures for reuse. It was a particularly testing project but this is where we excel.”
The judges of the Ground Engineering Awards obviously recognised the complexities of the Wood Lane development having shortlisted it in the Project of the Year category. The other aspect of Concept’s approach that has brought it plaudits has been its stance on environmental issues, culminating in its shortlist within the Sustainability category.
“The Sustainability Award nomination was principally for the redevelopment of the Shell Centre in Southbank Place, London, particularly for our work on the foundations carried out jointly with Arup,” says Anastasia. “Sustainability is something that we’ve worked really hard at as a company. Reusing foundations for a building that has not yet been demolished is very tricky and involves substantial investigations to be certain you can actually reuse the foundations. We’ve great expertise in this area that we want to develop further.
“We are dedicated to the continual reduction of the impact that our business activities have on the environment. We are fully committed to the principles of Quality Assurance, Health & Safety & Environmental Protection and Concept has formal accreditation for Environmental & Quality Management and a UKAS accredited laboratory.”
Whilst it remains to be seen whether Concept is able to add to last year’s Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year award 2014 with one, two or even all three of the accolades it has been shortlisted for this year, in the meantime the company is striving to make the most of its strengths to build further on its reputation within the current marketplace.
“We did see a great recovery in the economy during the previous two years,” outlines Anastasia. “2014 saw us reach a significant peak in our work with a high volume of projects taking place in the south-east. In contrast this year we have seen a more stable market, with a slight reduction in the number of available opportunities in the run-up to the election.”
The conclusion of the election will hopefully see confidence returning to the market once more, enabling Concept to again make the most of its unique qualities.
“Geographically we can operate everywhere but because of our core strengths in more specialist activities we have tended to take on more niche-type work within built-up urban areas so naturally we’ve gravitated towards London and the south-east. In addition to operating across the UK we have also worked abroad, as we’ve done in France recently, and also in the offshore market. We’ve just secured work in Eastern Europe and we’ve worked in Africa and Russia as well. This is certainly something we’d like to expand into more and we’re very keen to push further into overseas markets. We’ve definitely got the skills set and the experience to do so.
“One of our main objectives for 2015 involves further expansion into international markets as we look to increase our profile overseas. We are also looking to keep growing in the UK and have plans to add another office in the next couple of years.”
As for the reasons behind Concept’s consistency and continued growth, Milan believes it’s the people at the heart of the business that have proven to be so crucial. “Our success has been built on the strength of our staff and the high level of innovation they constantly demonstrate to tackle and overcome challenging projects. It’s all down to the expertise of our people, although we’ve also invested quite heavily in plant and equipment over the past few years, which has been another factor behind our growth.
“We’ve also tried to encourage people, especially youngsters, to take up apprenticeships with us so that we can bring more young blood into the industry. It’s a bit of a shame that there’s not much general public exposure of what we do and it’s very difficult to recruit people and maintain them. Through investment and by trying to make people interested in this career we’re striving to expand and lead the industry forward in that respect. We’re confident the award recognition we’re continuing to receive will help to raise awareness of what we can offer as a business.”
With the growth it is seeing, both in the UK and further afield, hopefully Concept will enjoy further success at this year’s Ground Engineering Awards to increase recognition of its qualities in order to continue propelling the business forward.