The pandemic has presented businesses with some unique challenges but it has also brought the very best out of them too, as was the case with Alpine Works Limited, which played a key role early on in the crisis with its involvement on the Nightingale Hospital at ExCel London. The quality of its work on the development also caught the attention of the judges at the 2020/21 ECA Industry Awards, who named the company Contractor of the Year (Up to £15m turnover category).
“We previously won the ECA Contractor of the Year Award in 2015 so it’s great to win again this time around,” explains John Coleman, Chief Executive. “It is a national award and the ECA is a very respected organisation so the success really underlines the hard work that our workforce put in, not only on the Nightingale Hospital development but more generally too. It’s a huge achievement and fantastic recognition for all our staff.”
The qualities that came to the fore of the Nightingale Hospital development have been honed at Alpine Works since its creation in 2002, when it was originally created as an electrical company operating primarily in the public sector. Over the years it has carried out work for universities, higher education, healthcare and on historical buildings, growing significantly at the same time to the extent that it now undertakes mechanical and plumbing services works.
The continuous progression that Alpine Works has demonstrated on its journey to becoming a fully integrated mechanical electrical services company has always been supported by internal development too, as Mr Coleman outlines: “Around eight years ago a major emphasis was placed on obtaining all of the ISO accreditations necessary to provide the quality of work we were striving for. We now hold BSI ISO accreditations for 9001, 14001 & 45001; the world’s most widely recognised quality management standards, while health and safety is our primary objective, which is underlined by our accreditations to ISO 45001, CHAS and SSIP ‘Acclaim’ accreditation through Constructionline. Maintaining these levels has involved a significant amount of hard work, including numerous internal and external audits. This process has been driven from the very top, from myself and the other directors within the business, and has ensured a high degree of consistency on the projects we carry out.”
This consistency and quality was clearly evident on the work Alpine Works carried out on the Nightingale Hospital project, which formulated a key part of its submission for the ECA Contractor of the Year Award. “We were the electrical and mechanical contractor on the project, which delivered 2,000 beds in just five weeks,” adds Mr Coleman. “This obviously brought national acclaim and recognition, so it was a massive honour to be involved in such a very special project, the kind that doesn’t really come around very often.”
While its work on the Nightingale Hospital helped the wider UK public during the pandemic, in terms of how Covid-19 affected its own operation, there was some significant disruption in the early stages before the situation began to resolve itself. “The pandemic was obviously tough for everyone and we have prioritised the need to carry out all works in a safe and professional manner in accordance with best industry standards. In the early days of the outbreak in 2020 we did experience some downturn in trade, although we were fortunate that we didn’t have to furlough too many of our staff, all of which had returned to full employment by the end of the year. In contrast, this year we are doing very well indeed and the market for us is absolutely booming. At the same time, we are going through something of a transformation in the business to become slightly more corporate in our approach whilst maintaining the personal customer relations for which Alpine is known. We have created a board of directors using highly skilled individuals inside and outside of the business with the intention of building for succession. It’s all about future-proofing the organisation for the long term.
“We are looking to build for the future and, as part of this process, we continue to be very proactive on training. Every year we take a couple of apprentices so that there’s a continuous stream of fresh blood coming through. I began my own career as an apprentice, as did three of our directors, so we’re a great believer in the apprenticeship programme.
“We’re aiming for a turnover of around £15m this year, which gives some indication of the size that we’re currently operating at. Our transition into a fully fledged mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) services organisation including Facilities Management has allowed us to considerably broaden our horizons.
“While our head office is in Epsom, Surrey; geographically we operate predominately in Central London supported by our project office in Charlotte Street in London WC1, which serves customers including the likes of University of College London, University College Hospital, Imperial College London, the British Museum and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is a major client at the moment.”
It is clear that Alpine Works has successfully overcome the challenges associated with the pandemic and now the company is looking ahead with renewed confidence and vigour. Given its latest ECA Award success and the growth it is enjoying; it is safe to say that Alpine Works is well placed to remain on the upward trajectory it is currently on.