As a company with over a century of operation under its belt, electrical engineering specialists Gilbert & Stamper has pretty much seen it all and can now add a global pandemic to that list too. Having managed to tackle whatever has been thrown at it over the years, the Tonbridge-based business is now keen to keep adding to its legacy, as Adrian Cross, Managing Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.
“The last couple of years have been challenging for everyone but from our point of view we’ve remained focused on ensuring that we continue to provide a high quality service to customers,” explains Mr Cross. “While we’re principally electrical contractors, we have also diversified into other areas, such as fire alarms, data installation, access control and testing inspection. As we’ve added to the suite of services we can offer, we’ve strived to continually increase our client base too.”
Thanks to its quality-led approach, Gilbert & Stamper has developed strong market share not only in its Kent heartland but also in Surrey, Sussex and most of London. While the pandemic had its challenges, it didn’t derail the company’s forward progression, as Mr Cross points out: “At the beginning of the pandemic back in 2020 we didn’t notice too much difference. In fact, we actually enjoyed the best 12 months for many years. The effects of the pandemic slowing everything down did catch up with us last year, although things are starting to take off again now.
“We’re quite optimistic about the future, despite the hurdles we continue to face, such as the rising cost of obtaining equipment. Prices are rocketing at the moment but thankfully we have close working relationships with our suppliers and manufacturers, which is helping us to continue providing a strong service at a reasonable price.”
A key element of Gilbert & Stamper’s ongoing success is due to the calibre of the 50-strong workforce that support its activities. Comprehensive training has ensured that all members of staff are given the support and assistance they require to meet their potential. The company also has a strong apprenticeship scheme, underlining the fact that it is always looking at the longer term too. “We currently have eight apprentices at various different stages of the process,” says Mr Cross. “Two have just finished and we’re also just about to offer two placements for the coming year.
“We keep looking to the future and the training that will be required to make sure we have people with the skills we require for the company’s long term development. With new technologies emerging all the time, it’s crucial that we bring new blood in. This has always been integral to our approach.”
The fact that Mr Cross himself joined the business as an apprentice 47 years ago before working his way up to Managing Director really highlights the emphasis that Gilbert & Stamper places on staff development and career progression. “There are three others in the office that have charted a similar career pathway. We don’t tend to lose many people and our staff turnover is very small as a result. We therefore have a significant number of people both in the office and out on the tools that have been with us for a number of years.”
As it looks to make the most of its loyal and well trained workforce, Gilbert & Stamper is now exploring the various opportunities for growth it has identified within the marketplace.
“One of the biggest areas of potential that we’ve been focusing on during the past six months is electric vehicle charging points,” says Mr Cross. “We registered on the Government website, which meant that people could get a grant for it, although this has unfortunately finished now for single domestic dwellings so we’ve seen a slowdown on that. We are still seeing a significant number of EV charge point enquiries coming in and demand looks set to remain high going forward.
“Looking ahead, we want to get back to a slightly better trading situation as last year proved to be quite tricky. That said, we are now successfully engaging with new customers that we’re hopeful we can build long lasting relationships with. Much of our work is through repeat business with main contractors, which again demonstrates the quality of project we’re able to deliver.
“A large portion of our work is within education partnering with main contractors to build, improve and extend schools. We also have worked extensively in the health and police sectors on a number of contracts.
“For the longer term, I’m going to start the process of easing myself out of the company in the next five years, so we’ve already started to put a succession plan in place. We want to get this right to secure the future of the business for the next 20 to 30 years.”
With this attention to detail, coupled with the importance it puts on service and delivery, it is easy to see how Gilbert & Stamper has been able to chalk up over a century of operation and it’s a safe bet that there’s plenty more years still to come.