This year sees Minster Surfacing Ltd celebrating its 20th anniversary and the company is aiming to mark the milestone by building on an impressive 2018, as Bruce Spencer-Knott, Managing Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.
“Based in Lincoln, we work on multi-million-pound infrastructure projects for many of the UK’s largest construction firms, as well as councils, central government, defence and the aviation industry,” explains Mr Spencer-Knott. “We’re able to access all areas of the UK and are regularly asked to carry out works for the Ministry of Defence nationwide.”
Having begun life in 1999 as a two-man band offering specialist macadam applications, continuing evolution means that Minster Surfacing can now offer a comprehensive construction package including site excavation, drainage, planing, block paving and surfacing. As its capabilities have grown so has its reputation, which is reflected in a client list that includes such leading names as Balfour Beatty, Amey, SKANSKA, Galliford Try Group, Kier Group and TARMAC.
“Myself and the other co-founder of the business, Tony, gradually built up the business before I bought out his shares in 2013 as he was nearing retirement age,” adds Mr Spencer-Knott. “At the time we were turning over around £1.5m but last year we were approaching the £18m-mark.”
This surge in turnover highlights Minster Surfacing’s upward trajectory in recent years. What’s more, the growth doesn’t look like slowing anytime yet given the opportunities that are coming the company’s way. “All the indications are that the Government is committed to improving the nation’s roads and after it released significant funds last year this looks set to continue into 2019, which points towards another great year for us. It has also been announced that the MoD is being given substantial funds for projects that will be rolled out this year so we’re gearing up for a very busy 12 months ahead.”
The progression that Minster Surfacing has made and its ability to capitalise on the potential for further growth that the marketplace is providing hasn’t come about by chance. Instead continuous investment in its equipment and its people, not to mention an emphasis on developing its supply chain, has helped pave the way for the company’s ongoing development. “Although we have a great deal of experience within the management team, we are also very forward-thinking and willing to keep abreast of the latest technology,” says Mr Spencer-Knott. “As a consequence we’re always striving to push innovative and new machinery into a sector that some wrongly perceive to be a dirty industry devoid of technological advancement. The reality is that we are the polar opposite of this perception. We are extremely proactive when it comes to embracing the likes of autonomous paving and the ability to harmonise laptops and palm-held gadgets with the hardware that can be seen carrying out operations daily on carriageways the length and breadth of the country.
“Being technology-focused brings dual benefits; it not only helps us to cement our leading position within the marketplace, but it also makes us a more attractive proposition for young people who are increasingly considering us as a viable option to build a career with. At a time when there’s a substantial skills shortage, and a growing number of experienced operatives are reaching retirement age, this is more important than ever before, particularly as the likes of the HS2 project and the development of Heathrow will be a magnet for many trades and operatives. We have to get the next generation interested and I strongly believe the strength of the tech will be a key way of making this possible.
“Another way we’re looking to attract young people into the business is by improving our recycling performance. This is another major issue that they’re interested in, so we’ve been keen to raise awareness of our work in this area.”
This sustainable approach led to award recognition for Minster Surfacing in 2018 with the company securing the Overall Award and the Best Business Award at the Lincolnshire Environment Awards. It also won the award for Innovation in Construction at the Lincolnshire Technology & Innovation Awards, where it was also highly commended for Best Business.
“Receiving external recognition is very important because we sometimes feel like we’re pushing a boulder up a hill as we try to change people’s thought processes when it comes to recycling. So many are stuck in their ways. Being put forward for awards of this nature and winning them is a fantastic way to not only raise awareness of what we’re about as a business, but is also a great way of showcasing what’s possible. It has also helped us secure additional work in other areas of the country so it’s very much a win-win.”
Further underlining its forward-thinking ethos, in 2016 Minster Surfacing moved to purpose-built modern offices in Lincoln. This is supported by a satellite office in Oxford that services a number of the MoD’s barracks across London and the surrounding area. Having committed so strongly to developing its infrastructure, its workforce and its equipment; the company looks ideally placed to build on an award-laden 2018.
“We’re striving to keep the momentum going and I’m particularly keen to further develop the management team to spread the load more evenly,” concludes Mr Spencer-Knott. “We’re very proud of the growth we’ve seen and the reputation we’ve gained within the marketplace but there is an element of being careful what you wish for.
“Minster Surfacing has evolved into a very large beast that now needs constantly feeding so it’s vitally important the growth remains sustainable and we have solid foundations in place and the right people in place. I can’t stress how important attracting new blood into the industry is in this regard so we’ll certainly being doing our utmost in this area.
“It’s a hugely exciting industry and we’re looking forward to capitalising on the opportunities within the marketplace by continually innovating and pushing ourselves to the next level. Of course it will be challenging but this is something I personally thrive on. The word engineer comes from the medieval Latin ingeniator, which means to use a logical process to fix things or make them better. This is an ethos I embrace and is what I’ve built the business around.”
Given the level of passion that Mr Spencer-Knott has for the industry and the company he’s helped create, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Minster Surfacing’s 20th anniversary year being its best yet.