In the five years since Manchester-based Domis Construction was created it has made exceptional progress, generating so much momentum that it has not only avoided being derailed by the pandemic, but has even broadened its horizons away from its north-west heartland.
In terms of how Domis has been able to make such an immediate impact on the marketplace, the fact that from the very beginning the company has adopted an approach based entirely on honesty and openness has been a major factor, as Lee McCarren, Managing Director, outlines: “Since our 2017 formation we have excelled in the industry and expanded to become a nationwide leader in quality and value. We’re passionate about our company values, our project delivery and our team members. We know what makes a good product and demonstrate that to our client every time.
“The word that’s repeated frequently from our clients, subcontractors and suppliers when describing how we operate is ‘refreshing’. We provide clients with a development and construction experience that’s built on partnership and is solution-based, honest and transparent.
Their team of 120 provides expertise in design management, programming, compliance, safety and commercial delivery and together they drive quality and value through all Domis operations. Mr McCarren continues “At Domis our values define who we are, they drive us to succeed and underpin our approach to business. They are at the forefront of every decision we make. Our people help us bring our values to life, by living them every day, creating a culture we all want to be a part of.”
With the Domis team being wholly accessible at every step of the construction journey, offering direct input from key decision makers at all times, the company has quickly developed an enviable reputation. This in turn has led to a rapidly growing list of high profile contracts, with one of the most significant being the Viadux project, which can only be described as an engineering masterclass.
“There have been two years of construction activity and design that no-one has seen as it’s been concealed by the arches,” explains Mr McCarren. “It’s at a pivotal point where we have punched through the arches and there is now visibility of the project with the recognition of it being a true Manchester landmark. Phase 2 design is being developed at the moment, which has been earmarked as state of the art commercial office space further boosting the Manchester economy. The space is taking inspiration from other big cities and attracting the interest of blue chip business, as well as smaller enterprises. It would be anyone’s fantasy project and is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we are incredibly proud to be working with alongside our main development partner Salboy.”
Another notable project is the Glass Works at Back Turner St or ‘The Sudehill Shard’, as it has been coined by the local media. A simply stunning build in the Northern Quarter offering luxury office and work spaces, the development is retaining the original 1920s façade of the warehouse at street level, combined with the taller glass building acting as a landmark and gateway into Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
Away from the commercial sector, a project at Castle Irwell marks Domis’ large scale suburban living project, having now become the cornerstone of its housing division. “It’s a natural progression from our core delivery of luxury city living to housing and building beautiful homes and communities for young professionals and families,” says Kingsley Thornton, Director. “We excel at city centre high rise major projects but housing will form a major part of Domis’ future. We don’t believe the demand for family homes will ever go away and we want to be in a position to deliver on that as well. Strategically we are therefore reviewing and looking at many opportunities in that respect.
That Domis is continuing to make such strong headway with its growing portfolio of projects is all the more impressive given that it has been achieved in the face of the challenges that have stemmed from the pandemic. Again this has come about due to the robust approach that the business has taken. “Very early on we endeavoured to get on-board with all the safety guidance provided by the government and were in constant liaison with our suppliers to formulate a plan of procedures and processes that would enable our employees to stay safe, but without disrupting the progress of our contracts.
“The close working relationships we’ve been able to develop with our partners have really helped us on our journey. We are here to build, we are here to construct and we are here to develop: all of which is much easier to do when we work with people who are willing to help us achieve our goals. In turn, we are very dynamic and agile, so can respond to change quite easily, as we are an owner-managed business able to make instant decisions.”
Aside from the pandemic, there are other challenges that Domis is having to contend with, such as the labour shortage that is affecting so many across the industry. Once more, however, the company’s people-orientated mindset and its openness has helped overcome this issue too. “We really try to get people to buy-in to the long-term ethos of Domis, which has enabled us to maintain a high retention rate of people, something that is virtually unheard of within construction. This has engendered a great deal of loyalty across our workforce, which is fantastic. We recognise that it’s a two-way street so we look after them, through training and staff development, and they look after us.
“As for the materials shortage, which is the other major headache that construction is having to contend with, by working with our main suppliers and giving them full visibility of our order book, this has put us in a much stronger position, allowing us to plan for the longer term. It also enables our suppliers to ring fence their shipment orders.”
Having batted away the challenges that have been thrown at it in recent years, Domis is now striving to keep the momentum going, as Mr Thornton outlines: “As we enter the New Year, our aim for the months ahead involve continuing to deliver on all our promises and expectations. If we achieve this objective, then we will further cement our position within the marketplace.
“Regardless of the hurdles we’ve faced, and overcoming them has been difficult and has involved plenty of hard work, we continue to be in a great place. With the backing of our people, our suppliers, our partners and our clients, we are going to be absolutely fine. Our ambition is to become the best contractor in the north of England – that’s our mission – and we are fast becoming the ‘go to’ construction company within Manchester. As a result, we need to continue attracting world leading talent, maintaining our relationships and producing high quality builds within programme and budget.”
While becoming market leading in the north of the country is progressing well, Domis has still found time to make its presence in the capital too, having secured a project in Earl’s Court in London. This involves the creation of 35 high-end apartments with some commercial space as part of a five-storey development valued at £30m. “It is right in our sweet spot and we want to transfer the work practices that we have created in the north-west and establish ourselves in the south too. The project is progressing really well and has given us the confidence to take on other opportunities that are coming our way on a daily basis in London and the south. Our success to date indicates that we will go further afield and we believe our delivery model will work successfully under a wider geographic spread.”
While further national expansion looks assured, in the meantime Domis has an impressive pipeline of works in the north to keep it occupied in the shorter term, with a number of projects completing and starting throughout 2022. These include:
- Anchorage Gateway- A stunning 29 storey residential tower occupying the entrance to Salford Quays – home of Media CityUk
- The Waterhouse- Forshaw’s riverside development providing apartments with high specification finishes, private balconies and roof terraces along with both water and city views.
- Fifty5ive – a quality, contemporary build minutes from everything both Salford and Manchester have to offer. Marketed as the ideal modern home by Domis’ Main Development Partner Salboy. The development boasts resident workspace, gymnasium, yoga studios, cinema room and terrace gardens.
- Hallam Towers – A unique development in a leafy sought after suburb of Sheffield close to the city, as well as the Peak District. One, two and three bedroom apartments with chic and timeless design, elegant open plan interiors, onsite gym and leisure facilities coupled with city and countryside views.
- The next phase of Salboy’s Castle Irwell – continuing to build high spec residential homes along with.
With its reputation in the north-west continuing to be strengthened, and having taken on a project in London that is sure to be the first of many within the capital, Domis looks well placed for another significant year of growth.