August 24, 2019

Penmilne Electrical Contractors – Considerate approach brings its rewards

Since its creation in 1977 Hertfordshire-based Penmilne Electrical Contractors has garnered a leading reputation for quality and service. This high standing within the marketplace is not only apparent from the commercial success it has enjoyed over the past four decades, but also from the industry recognition it has received, particularly last year’s achievement in being named Most Considerate Company Runner Up at the 2018 Considerate Constructors Awards.

(Left to Right): Tracy Burstow, Mark Karmock, Barry Underwood, Beverley Fletcher and Kerry Underwood

“We were delighted to win such a prestigious award, as we take a great deal of pride in delivering high quality services,” explains Beverley Fletcher, Client Services Manager, who helps run the business with husband, Barry Underwood, Managing Director; and his two daughters Tracy Burstow, Contracts Manager, and Kerry Underwood, Operations Manager. “It’s really pleasing to have our efforts recognised because the entire team continue to demonstrate excellent levels of dedication and commitment. 

“This hard work ethic reflects the values that Barry instilled into the business when it was established in the late 1970s. From the very beginning huge importance has been placed on driving up quality standards and this emphasis has continued over the past 40 years. The result is that we remain very focused and passionate about what we are doing, which is reflected in the high standard of customer care and service we provide.” 

The strengths that Penmilne brings to the table have enabled the company to develop a wide and varied client base that spans Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and north London. The core of the business is focused on working in partnership with local authorities and housing associations for which it carries out a substantial amount of electrical rewiring, programmed maintenance of occupied properties, electrical testing and inspection. It also does some responsive work and has been involved in the maintenance of communal lighting systems and the installation of LED energy efficient lighting. In addition, it provides services for letting agents, facilities management businesses, landlords and schools; while it is also continuing to develop a growing private domestic client base.

As well as the leadership provided from the top of the company, Penmilne’s quality-led approach has been further strengthened by robust training programmes for its workforce. “From induction onwards there’s a continual focus is on delivering quality service, which is apparent in our approach to staff development,” adds Beverley. “Our clients have come to have highly defined expectations of what we’re able to deliver so we work extremely hard to consistently meet these requirements. To help us achieve this objective we have very exacting KPIs that are constantly being monitored, while we also regularly carry out customer care surveys to ensure standards are being maintained. By its very nature, local authority work can be challenging, but we’re able to achieve tremendous results because of the robustness of our systems and processes. Our supply chain also plays an integral role, ensuring materials are where and when we need them at all times.”

As it looks to make the most of its internal capabilities and the well developed supply chain its has built up, Penmilne is now striving to keep the momentum going. “We are always looking ahead for further growth with the opportunities within the marketplace currently stemming from new build and social housing work, both of which are seeing something of a boom at the moment,” outlines Barry Underwood. “These are areas that we want to develop further in, while the domestic market is another sector that is providing ongoing growth potential, particularly as we’re enjoying high customer referral rates. Local authority and housing association contracts will always be our bread and butter, whether we’re working directly for the client or as a sub-contractor, but we’re also keen to maximise other markets where we can transfer our skills to enhance our growth opportunities.

“One particular challenge we’re facing within the public sector arena stems from the fact that whereas councils previously contracted out the electric and gas elements as standalone trades, we’re increasingly seeing local authorities moving towards multi-trade contracts that combine both electric and gas. This is something we obviously can’t tender for because we’re a purely electrical specialist. We are therefore looking to build relationships with multi-trade providers in order to operate as a sub-contractor for them. This has involved challenges but thankfully our reputation has allowed us to get a foot in the door so we’re keen to demonstrate what we can do.”

Barry Underwood, Managing Director

Challenges aside, with a growing order book supported by a highly trained and well developed team of employees, Penmilne is now looking to use the Most Considerate Company Runner Up Award as the springboard for further progression. “Looking to the next 12 months, we want to build on the award and continue to develop the reputation we have to further expand our client base,” concludes Beverley. “As an organisation we want to help improve the image of the construction industry by endorsing quality working practices and improved skills. Integral to this will be the ongoing development of our own workforce through training and by the adoption of emerging new technologies.”

With such a committed and proactive approach, it is easy to see why Penmilne has been able to chalk up over 40 years of operation within the marketplace, not to mention catching the eye of the judges at the Considerate Constructors Awards.