Having recently added a sixth arm to its business, the Gill Group is increasingly finding strength in diversity as it continues to capitalise on the upturn in the marketplace to build further on its 20-plus years of operation.
“The latest addition to the business is a commercial insurance brokerage called ABA Commercial Insurance Limited,” explains Bal Takhar, Senior Operations Manager. “This provides insurance not only for our own business but also for other engineering and manufacturing operators or any other company that requires commercial insurance.”
Following the advent of ABA Commercial Insurance Limited there are now six separate companies under the Gill Group umbrella. “Our core business is civil engineering, which is carried out by Gill Civil Engineering Limited, and we pride ourselves on being one of the leading concrete paving sub-contractors in the UK,” adds Mr Takhar. “Our range of contracts encompass mainly aviation projects, typically civil and military airbases, as well as seaports and, more recently, highways.”
“We’ve certainly got skills and expertise that are transferable to other sectors. The key to this has been having specialist staff and one of our strengths as a group has been our ability to retain a strong knowledge base within our workforce.
Bal Takhar, Senior Operations Manager
Supplementing Gill Civil Engineering Limited and ABA Commercial Insurance Limited, the third element of the company is Cello Aviation, which tends to be the more glamorous side of the business. “Our Chairman, Mr Raj Gill, owns three aircraft within the executive chartered jet sector and we’ve flown everyone from Her Majesty the Queen when she visited Ireland a few years ago through to Tom Jones, Premier League football teams and various other celebrities. We’re also in the ACMI market, which sees us working for companies such as Thomson, the TUI Group and Flybe. Whenever any of their aircraft are grounded for technical reasons they give us a call and we have a whole crew and an aircraft on standby ready to fly their passengers to wherever they need to be.
“The fourth aspect of our business is a builders’ merchant and we have two depots based in Tipton and Handsworth, through which we provide a broad range of building materials and products.
“The fifth strand is Titan Plant Hire Limited, where we lease plant to light and heavy construction industry. Predominately our biggest client is Gill Civil Engineering and the types of equipment we tend to specialise in is backing plant, pavers, dump trucks and heavy breakers.
“The sixth and final element of the company is Gill Civil Slipform Paving, which is pretty much Gill Civil Engineering but predominately based in the Middle East where we have two offices. Again we mainly focus on civil and military aviation sites.”
Supporting the Group’s activities are around 275 staff, many of which have been with the company for a number of years, providing the foundation for its development as a business. “We’re diversifying and capitalising on the growing opportunities that have followed the upturn,” says Mr Takhar. “We’ve certainly got skills and expertise that are transferable to other sectors. The key to this has been having specialist staff and one of our strengths as a group has been our ability to retain a strong knowledge base within our workforce. Because we’re so diverse, if we ever have a downturn in one part of our business then invariably we see an upturn in another part. This provides a tremendous amount of stability within the company and is very attractive to our employees, ensuring that we keep the best people. Some of our guys have been with us for 20-plus years, which always tells a story, and our chairman is very down to earth and treats his employees like members of his own family. He pretty much knows everybody on first name terms.
“In terms of the opportunities that we’re seeing across our various businesses, the growth in the marketplace generally has benefitted us considerably, particularly as we are quite specialist in what we do. As a consequence we’re fairly niche and one of only a handful of sub-contractors that have the specialist slipform concrete expertise to work for the likes of Costain, Balfour Beatty and Lagans. As a result of the market upturn we’ve been able to secure business in the seaport and highways sectors. We’ve just completed a project for Costain Group on the M54 in Telford and we’ve also been working on the M42. In addition we’ve recently secured a contract with Oxford Council to help them fill in their potholes.”
The aim now for the Gill Group is to continue building momentum in all areas of its business. “Moving forward I would certainly like to think that our civil and aviation businesses will both grow strongly in their respective markets,” concludes Mr Takhar. “We’re also already exploring the possibility of a third builders’ merchant depot, which will hopefully happen within the next 12 months or so, and likewise on the commercial insurance side we’re striving to drive much more external business.”