When FP Hurley reached its 70th year of operation in 2019, it would be fair to say the mechanical and electrical building services company had seen most things during the course of the past seven decades, from deep recessions through to economic booms. Something the Bridgend-based business hadn’t previously encountered, however, was a global pandemic. Thankfully it has not only weathered the Covid-19 storm during the past year, it has actually bolstered its operation by moving into new areas, as Adrian Hurley, Managing Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.
“While the pandemic was obviously something of a shock to everyone, early on it quickly became apparent that the Government viewed construction as a sector that should keep operating,” explains Mr Hurley. “Companies were therefore having to make all sorts of arrangements to ensure sites remained open. Travelling to work, methods of working and welfare facilities were all suddenly under real scrutiny and the main contractors were expected to manage it all as though it was second nature to them.
“From our perspective, we are a family company, not because the business bears our name, but because many of our employees’ sons, daughters, other relations and friends work for us. Because of these close links I felt like I was potentially sending our onsite operatives into a high risk environment, while our office-based staff worked safely at home. This certainly wasn’t something I was comfortable with, particularly as this implied a degree of double standards.
“We therefore took the decision to take a week off at the end of February to allow the main contractors to review their Covid-19 procedures and make the sites safe. Some were a little slow to make the mark but for those that did, we were able to get back onsite the following week, although I have to say it was still with a very heavy heart.”
Another effect was the cessation of a number of projects that were due to take place in buildings that were subsequently commandeered for medical purposes. On the flipside FP Hurley was able secure work associated with the creation of Nightingale hospitals and other Covid-19 treatment-related facilities. One in particular, the University Hospital, Llandough in Penarth, Cardiff, took the decision to put permanent facilities in place rather than going down the temporary route. The client was particularly appreciative that FP Hurley, in conjunction with Willmott Dixon, were able to complete the work to such a tight schedule.
Given the pandemic’s far-reaching impact, it is particularly impressive that FP Hurley has retained all its staff, while also adding to its workforce, which now numbers around 165 employees. This growth has been achieved thanks to the ongoing work it has been able to secure. Its recently opened office in Exeter is also increasingly penetrating the market and bearing more fruit. It has commenced a contact at the Sandy Park development, which is home to the Exeter Chiefs, that involves the construction of a 250-bed hotel on the land adjacent to the stadium. The project is due for completion by the end of 2021.
One of the most significant factors behind FP Hurley’s ability to keep a steady pipeline of major contracts coming through is the consistency of high quality delivery it is able to provide, which has in turn led to ever-burgeoning relationships with key clients. These include such heavyweights as Wilmott Dixon, BAM, Interserve, Morgan Sindall, Kier and Bouygues all of which have been providing regular, repeat business.
FP Hurley has also secured a framework with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board that will provide a steady stream of work for the next three years, while student accommodation projects for a private client will also continue to be a source of contracts. It is currently on its fifth such project in Swansea with the potential for a further four in the pipeline including sites in Leicester and Nottingham. These follow a 705-bed project in Norwich last year, while it also completed a 23-storey, 576-bed development in Portsmouth, further evidence of the broadening of the company’s horizons away from its Wales heartland.
“We have also secured work through NHS Building for Wales, the Welsh NHS frameworks for health service projects. As part of this we have been selected by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and construction partner Interserve to deliver the £4m M&E package at Genomics Partnership Wales’ new research centre in Cardiff. Once completed it will bring all the facilities together under one roof to fast track the development of pharmaceuticals in Wales.
“In addition, we have also won a significant project with Willmot Dixon on the national NHS Building for Wales framework, at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, which is valued at about £75m in total. This could amount to £20m for us, which would make it the largest contract we have ever been awarded, although it will be delivered over between five to seven years.”
Despite the success of its ‘bread and butter’ work, FP Hurley has not been resting on its laurels, as it has also taken the opportunity to push forward with the development of its various subsidiaries. These include HFM (Hurley Facilities Management), which is an offshoot that works primarily with Admiral Insurance in Newport and Swansea, and a thermal installation division, HTIC (Hurley Thermal Insulation Contractors). More recently, Carter Sustainable Construction Limited was created a year ago to target the domestic housing market. “Due to the forthcoming coming carbon zero requirements that all housing will have to adhere to, there’s going to be a great deal of demand for low carbon heating,” highlights Mr Hurley. “We are also expecting to secure work with Willmott Dixon on providing the associated services for a major Passivhaus scheme for Caerphilly Borough Council.”
FP Hurley has undoubtedly been successful in adding further strings to its bow, which will only further strengthen the business’ prospects as it rapidly approaches its 75th anniversary. This has prompted the formation of HDS (Hurley Decarbonisation Solutions). “We have realised that not only are mainstream building services here to stay, but that even more exciting central government grant assisted developments are in the pipeline because of the climate change pressure that has been put on the world. We want to make the process much easier for customers and provide a reliable source of facts and figures that are focused on coming up with the best and most effective energy solutions that aren’t purely about cost. The decarbonisation agenda everyone is having to take on-board means that alternative solutions are required. It’s a situation that can’t be ignored any longer and we’re keen to assist in reducing the impact for future generations.”
As well as helping others, FP Hurley is practising what it preaches. For instance, it is working towards having an all-electric fleet. With this in mind it is installing electric charge points at its office in Bridgend so employees can charge their vehicles while they’re at work.
More generally, FP Hurley has introduced a quality assurance system, SQMAS, to improve the quality of the delivery of its service and introduced a software driven management system, Procore. This allows all operatives and management staff to have improved data handling onsite and ensures that everybody is able to access the very latest project information.
With turnover currently over £30m, FP Hurley is firmly on track to get close to the £40m mark by the end of 2021 due to the bounce-back factor as more sites reopen, not to mention the growth that its various subsidiaries are seeing. Given the challenges it has had to face in the past year, this achievement is testament to the company’s robust infrastructure and the consistency of the quality it can offer.