In the 18 months since we last caught up with Keith Proudfoot, Managing Director of Titan Roofing, it would be no exaggeration to say that the entire business landscape has altered beyond all recognition. The deep-reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to make themselves felt, while the implications of Brexit are still being discovered. What hasn’t changed, however, has been the Dublin-based company’s ongoing commitment to providing the highest level of service, an ethos that recently saw it securing yet another Irish Construction Industry Award in the Sub-Contractor of the Year (Small) category.
“In response to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, a great deal of effort has gone into developing our systems and we have taken an in-depth look at how we manage our processes from office through to site,” explains Mr Proudfoot, who set up the company in 2015 with fellow director Stephen Kennedy. “We have also placed significant emphasis on staff development, as well as quality control. The training our workforce has undergone, coupled with the quality and inspection procedures that underpin it, have helped get us to the position we are now.”
The judges of the Irish Construction Industry Awards 2020 obviously agree, having given Titan Roofing the Sub-Contractor of the Year (Small) trophy for a second time. The company has been in regular contention for accolades at the awards for a number of years, while Mr Proudfoot himself also came third in the Project Manager of the Year category this time around.
“It was a great honour to be in the mix with the calibre of individuals that were in the running, some of which we have worked with in the past,” says Mr Proudfoot. “I was delighted to be shortlisted on a personal level, but getting the company award is an even greater achievement for the entire business. It is testament to the work that takes place behind the scenes, whether it’s myself project managing or one of our other team members. We all give it 100% every time and the award recognition, along with the relationships we have built up with our client base, really reflects this.”
With such a highly ingrained service-orientated ethos, it has been crucial for Titan Roofing to keep hold of all its highly trained workforce during the past year. In fact, far from becoming weaker, it has actually slightly increased its numbers. This is a notable achievement given the vagaries of the business environment due to the pandemic. Retaining these skills and experience will be integral to ensuring the consistency the company has become known for since its creation.
“Having continuity within the team helps cement standards within the business,” adds Mr Proudfoot. “Maintaining the culture and making sure that every employee fully understands their role and what is expected of them is incredibly important. Staff retention is key to cementing our quality practices and allows us to constantly build on the systems we have in place.”
These skills are the bedrock on which Titan Roofing has been established, but even these were put to the test on one of its recent projects, as Mr Proudfoot outlines: “We’ve been working on the development of Oisin House in Trinity College, Dublin, which is definitely amongst the most unusual projects we’ve ever taken on. It utilises a flat roofing system but as the building has been designed to mimic the Dublin mountains, there are 23 different slopes and angles on the roof ranging from 25 degrees up to 70 degrees pitch. For our employees, who are used to working on a flat surface, to be harnessed to walk up near vertical slopes really took some getting used to! Thankfully they were more than able to rise to the challenge. We have been onsite since 2019 and handover will be in June of this year so the end is in sight. It’s already looking like a fantastic development.
“In terms of overcoming the challenges, it was all about getting the team involved early and underlining the fact that it was such a landmark building. To be fair, everyone got fully on-board and as the team always takes great pride in their work, they had all the motivation they needed to produce excellent workmanship.”
While Oisin House has undoubtedly been a stand out for Titan Roofing, in terms of other notable projects the company has been involved in during the past 12 months, one is the development of student accommodation for Walls Construction on Rathdown Road in Dublin. Similar to Oisin House, it was a city centre project that again brought the traditional challenges associated with a restricted site. However, once more the business was able to overcome any hurdles and the job was successfully handed over just before Christmas.”
Titan Roofing’s ability to tackle projects at the more taxing end of the spectrum means it is increasingly able to take on contracts across a growing range of sectors. As well as education and student accommodation, residential and social housing in particular are becoming ever-more fruitful marketplaces for the company.
“We currently have a number of large social housing contracts with Sisk. One is almost ready for handover, while another is scheduled for completion during the summer. These have been two massive projects for us within the last 12 months and again the commitment of the team and their skills, which have been strengthened further by ongoing training programmes, means we have been able to comfortably contend with any challenges that have come up.
“We’re a great believer in keeping as much work in-house as possible. This enables us to maintain a greater level of quality control than if we had to rely on third parties. This has also been true of our approach to Covid-19, where we have introduced a range of measures to keep our employees as safe as possible. For instance, after the first lockdown we provided all staff with a branded kit bag that included latex gloves, hand sanitiser and sanitising spray; as well as a new set of hand tools, such as hammers, spanners, knives and saws. These items are replenished whenever needed. It has been a major commitment to our staff and they all really appreciate it.”
Another staff-focused initiative that Titan Roofing introduced was the reward of a free night’s stay in a hotel in Dublin for high performing employees and their partner. This was in recognition of the fact that staff were practically unable to take holidays during 2020. The scheme ran for about eight weeks leading up to Christmas and the company is looking to revive it, as soon as it’s safe to do so.
With such clear support for its workforce, it is easy to see why Titan Roofing has been able to instil such a strong team spirit within the business. It is now looking to build on this ethos, as well as its latest award recognition, to keep the company moving forward.
“We have several major contracts in place for the rest of 2021, which is really positive, but we are looking to secure even more for the remainder of the year and into 2022 too,” says Mr Proudfoot. “Our current focus is therefore on contract tendering so that we’re in an even stronger position to maintain our staff numbers as sites begin to open up again. We have a really robust structure in place and have all the tools to continue progressing. This is also true of our supply chain, although the other issue we’re having to deal with – Brexit – means we might need to make some adjustments. We’ve unfortunately had to replace one of our UK-based manufacturers with an alternative supplier in Austria because they couldn’t guarantee delivery times, but hopefully there won’t be many other disruptions as the situation becomes bit clearer.”
Whether it’s Brexit or the Covid-19 pandemic, it is apparent that Titan Roofing is not letting external circumstances hamper its ambitions, as its award recognition and continued success in securing key contracts testifies to. With a more settled economic situation hopefully just around the corner, the company has every chance of benefitting further from its combination of a strong infrastructure and a quality workforce.