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Grapevine ISSUE 14 WINTER 2012

On the cover

Ringing in the changes - Stepnell and George Law embrace change management

ppy New Year!

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Ha


Tackling the Opportunities Ahead As The Group bumps along the bottom of this recession there are a number of things that are becoming apparent that will challenge the way that we work within our industry. The current economic environment will last much longer than we hoped, forcing us to remain very competitive. We also face an ever increasing tide of regulation and standards, coupled with the need to work faster and ever closer with our supply chains. The biggest challenge though is the need for skilled and well trained employees. The

industry has lost nearly half a million people from main and subcontractor organisations and these people will be difficult to replace. Within The Group we know the problems well, as we need employees who understand how structures are built and who can build excellent projects. This is true for everyone in the business, from those involved pre-contract to those delivering on-site and including those supporting these activities. Even in the current climate, The Group is in danger of turning work away through the lack of junior employees in support roles. The Directors are very concerned that even with the slightest improvement in our industry we may have to let pass real

opportunities through the lack of trained and competent employees. Therefore the Directors and Area Managers are looking at ways to recruit Apprentices and Trainees to address this shortfall. The Group policy is to maintain 10% of employees as either Apprentices or Trainees. We have been experiencing a drop over the past few years and the figure is now below 5%. I would urge you all to encourage and bring on new Apprentices and Trainees, so that The Group is well equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. Mark Wakeford, Managing Director

Springhill Medical Centre, Old Arley The £1.4 million facility in Warwickshire has now been handed over The Grantham team began work on the Springhill Medical Centre at Old Arley in February 2012. The new facility will house consulting rooms, treatment rooms, administration offices and educational facilities. The Doctors and employees of the Practice are excited to be moving from their very outdated building nearby to this new and innovative modern facility. The team led by Site Manager, Phil Smith have built this facility using a traditional brick and block construction with supplementary steel beams and precast concrete floor planks. The construction combines single storey and two storey sections and includes drainage works, services, car parking and other external works.

Springhill Medical Centre, Old Arley

This project is BREEAM assessed with a requirement for a ‘Very Good’ rating. This is the first BREEAM project that Grantham will have completed and it looks as if we will gain the ‘Very Good’ rating as required. The project was handed over on the 23rd November 2012 and the aim was for the Practice to be open to the public less than a week later. Tom Kay Trainee Quantity Surveyor, Grantham

Bespoke reception desk built by the Stepnell in-house joinery team


Focus on... Trainees and Apprentices Grapevine talks to some of the next generation of Stepnell Group employees What Inspired you to work in the construction industry? Blair Lennox: I’ve always been interested in working with my hands and crafting things… I was a fan of lego as a kid as well. Adam Green: I’d not thought about it before but I did my work experience here and really enjoyed it. Tom Kay: Whilst working in IT for a construction company I did an HNC in construction to gain a better understanding of the business. My interest grew from there. How did you find out about the position? Joe Wallington: Karen Ryan came to my school as part of a careers morning and suggested that I come in to discuss my future – you could say I was head hunted. Sam McDonald: There was an apprenticeship place available that my Dad (Pete McDonald) made me aware of. Robert MacDonald: After university I registered with an agency specialising in accounting and finance. It was through them that I found out about the position at Aspen. What made you choose vocational training over college or university? Dave Steadman: Having already gained experience in the industry it was decided that this was the best option to take. Steve Davies: I think in an industry like this, hands on experience is better than learning purely in a classroom environment. Robert MacDonald: Having completed a degree in accounting and finance, professional vocational training was the natural progression. I’m currently in the process of completing my CIMA exams. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Blair Lennox: Maybe running a couple of my own jobs, I’d like to be a site foreman.

Blair Lennox

Joe Wallington

Apprentice Carpenter Poole

Trainee Technician Rugby

Steve Davies

Sam McDonald

Trainee Technician Poole

Apprentice Site Carpenter Wantage

Adam Green

Dave Steadman

Apprentice Joiner Rugby

Trainee Site Engineer George Law

Tom Kay

Robert MacDonald

Trainee Quantity Surveyor Grantham

Trainee Accountant Aspen

Joe Wallington: I’m just concentrating on getting qualified as I’ve not been doing my training long. I’ve got a long way to go so I am keeping my options open. Dave Steadman: Hopefully after working alongside the experienced site managers at George Law I will have gained enough knowledge to be in the same position. What is the most valuable thing you have learned so far? Blair Lennox: Measure twice cut once. Adam Green: Probably the health and safety stuff, it could be pretty dangerous in the joiners shop without it. Sam McDonald: So far there isn’t one thing I could pick, you’re learning all the time. What is your favourite part of the job? Blair Lennox: After all the work it’s great to be able to see what you’ve created. Steve Davies: It’s the variety of the job. Tom Kay: The people I work with. It makes a big difference when you have a great team around you. Finally, what would you do if you won the lottery? Blair Lennox: I would set up my own business and make sure my family are well looked after. Joe Wallington: This is a popular topic amongst my friends. I’d probably invest it so that I could live on the pay outs and share some with family and friends. Also, I’d buy a house abroad. Adam Green: Go somewhere warmer than this cold joiners shop.

Dave Steadman: Buy a yacht, sail around the world with my family and visit as many different countries as possible. Steve Davies: Mansion, exotic holiday and a car. Sam McDonald: I’d probably buy a house abroad and live it up. Tom Kay: I’d go into property development and build an empire! Robert MacDonald: Although my circa 1997 Fiesta is the essence of style, I’d probably have to buy a new car. The leaky sunroof means that when it rains I often get wet.


Ringing in the changes Stepnell and George Law embrace change management relation to managing situations. A series of six one day workshops were held at different venues. These were also attended by various Directors and Senior Managers. Each session encouraged healthy participation and was carefully structured to provide us with the tools to apply and benefit from the use of interpersonal and influencing skills. Technical skills sessions covered lean improvement techniques, supply chain management and sustainability.

L-R Alan Lyons, Charles Hicks, Kevin Hudson, Matthew Sadler, Richard Griffiths, Jeremy Hawkins, Kate Potter, Ian Chorlton

Our Directors believe that the environment that we carry out our construction work will change significantly over the next ten years as value becomes more important over price. The Group have worked closely with a training provider over the past few years who has recognised that the construction industry is poorly equipped to promote and manage the changes afoot. It was acknowledged that key employees need to be equipped with the necessary skills to help the business implement change successfully, and so it was back in March of this year the Change Management

Programme rolled out of the station. I, along with Alan Lyons (George Law), Richard Griffiths (George Law), Ian Chorlton (Stepnell Poole), Kate Potter (Stepnell Wantage), Matthew Sadler (Stepnell Grantham), Jeremy Hawkins (Stepnell Rugby) and Charles Hicks (Stepnell Rugby) were invited on the journey, and what a journey it turned out to be! The programme began with each of us completing a questionnaire to assess our ability and concerns to manage change, coupled with an on-line assessment to measure various attributes we have in

Project Updates Grantham Care Home Artists Impression.

Grantham - Recently Completed Projects

Poole - Recently Completed Projects

£1.4m medical centre at Old Arley, Warwickshire.

Phase 1 of the 650k contract at High Street, Swanage.

Grantham - Under Construction £4.1m Care Home, Grantham.

£100K contract to remodel Avon Heath Country Park, Dorset.

£487k extension to the D S Smith Warehouse, Wellingborough.

£1.3m Co-op Redevelopment Bearwood, Poole.

£1.1m alterations and extension to Denton House and the Pullinger building at Loughborough Grammar School.

Poole - Under Construction £120k refurbishment of the conservation library at the Dorset History Centre.

The programme culminated with each of us presenting a project in a Powerpoint format, to the Board of Directors. Each person’s project had been borne out of an idea for change proposed to a Director/Mentor at the beginning of the programme and had to be based on an aspect of change that the business would ultimately benefit from. We started out as a group of like minded individuals, largely unknown to each other, and not quite knowing what lay ahead, but ended up with a common purpose….. CHANGE! Kevin Hudson Site Manager, Rugby

Ian Chorlton and Bill Davies at Chesil Cove Primary School, Dorset

£300k refurbishment of the Philip Arnold unit at Poole Hospital. Post-Olympic works at the £6m Chesil Cove Primary School, Dorset. Phase 2 of the 650k contract at High Street, Swanage. £2.2m refurbishment contract for the Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital.


Fradley Crematorium, Staffordshire £1.8m Crematorium project passes the half-way mark Fradley Crematorium is for a new client, The Co-operative Funeral Care, and whilst they are very experienced crematoria operator’s, this is the first purpose built, fully equipped Crematorium that they have commissioned and they are looking forward to taking possession early in 2013. The project has now passed the half-way mark and is on target for handover in late February 2013. The scaffolding has recently been stripped from the buildings, revealing a very rural looking development, as stipulated by the local planners. A rustic style brick has been complimented by large panels of everyone’s favourite cladding material – naturally finished cedar boarding.

Top: 3D render of Fradley Crematorium, Staffordshire.  Bottom: Fradley Crematorium in progress.

A plain slate roof and exposed rafter feet add to the agricultural feel of the development.

The groundworkers have completed the construction of three ponds and the extensive landscaping works have commenced.

The external aluminium doors and windows, along with the cremator and flue were installed in November.

The design/project management of the building has been carried out by our in-house teams based at Rugby.

The Joinery Department are currently manufacturing bespoke oak doors, screens and internal joinery for the chapel and waiting rooms.

Brendan Rourke Contracts Manager, Rugby

The finishing trades are progressing well, with the plasterer’s having recently commenced work on site.

Warwick University Library

Father Daniel Seward and Pete McDonald on top of the Oratory roof, Oxford

Wantage - Under Construction

Rugby - Recently Completed Projects £600k Library Refurbishment for the University of Warwick. £1m refurbishment of the Rootes student accommodation blocks for the University of Warwick. Rugby - Under Construction £1.8m Fradley Crematorium, Staffordshire. £6.3m Care Home, Cheltenham.

Windale Community Primary School, Oxford

£5.6m Banner Lane Care Home, Coventry. Wantage - Recently Completed Projects £593k extension at Windale Primary School. Oxford. £295k Lincoln College Garden Building Works, Oxford. £387k gym conversion and classroom refurbishment at Rose Hill Primary School, Oxford.

£1.4m contract at the Oxford Oratory. £2.2m Cantay House Student Accommodation, Oxford. £3.7m contract for a new music school at Stowe School, Stowe.


Project Management - What do we do? With the demise of the Property Services Agency (PSA) and the end of Term Maintenance work on MOD camps, the strategy has been to support property and development activities where they generate contracting work to supplement work secured through traditional competitive tendering or other forms of procurement such as ‘Frameworks’ or ‘PFI’. The approach from the beginning was to keep resource levels to a minimum and provide an in-house Project & Design Management service. The first projects delivered this way were the Doctors Surgeries developed by Brackley Investments, led by Peter Wakeford. The Project Management service soon sought to expand with the appointment of Tony Mather and Peter Robinson as dedicated resources. Services offered include technical advice, project & design management from initial conception through to agreeing a design with the developer and building occupier and assistance with applications for Planning Consent.

This is followed by management co-ordination of the detailed design, with the preparation of the contract documents required to meet particular commercial arrangements. This process is supported by cost modelling, financial advice and the co-ordination and issue of information to Estimating. Specialist expertise can be provided as required, including Mechanical & Electrical design strategies, Building Regulations compliance, BREEAM strategies and CDM Co-ordination.

is made up of an eclectic mix of people from a wide range of backgrounds, leaving the company well placed to meet these significant changes and challenges within the industry David Brill, Director

Once handed over to the Construction Team there is sometimes the requirement to provide support for design co-ordination to undertake the role of Contract Administrator on behalf of the Employer. The scope of services and skill sets have been adjusted to suit the specific requirements of the organisations undertaking property and development activities and in the tendering for and delivery of competitive Design & Build/ Framework projects. Therefore the Project Management Team

Meet Brackley’s Newest Chartered Surveyor My name is Tom Brewerton MRICS. I qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in October 2012 after completing 3 years on the job training with Brackley Investments. It has been quite a journey. In 2007 after Brackley Investments developed Yarnton Surgery, I asked for a work placement over the summer period. Far from being deterred, this opened my eyes to the varied and changeable world of Surveying. After this experience I became determined to become a Chartered Surveyor and changed my career path to achieve an MA in Real Estate Management. After being taken on full time in 2009, Brackley Investments became a RICS Accredited Training Organisation, no mean feat for an organisation as small as Brackley Investments.

Both Jeff Moore and Geoff Simm became mentor and counsellor and were a great help throughout the process, both having to learn that a lot of things have changed substantially since they qualified (although they will never admit it). Achieving my letters has been incredibly challenging at times however very much worthwhile. I end this note by saying good luck to Victoria Turner who joined us as a graduate in May 2012 and is now on the path to become a Chartered Surveyor. You have two years of diary writing and questioning and quizzing from Geoff and Jeff ahead but it’ll be worth it in the end!

Other News - Brackley Investments are pleased to announce that Andy Marshall has now been made a Director!


Grapevine catches up with... Christine Goddard - Chief Accountant, Rugby What’s the best part of your job? Going home at night having achieved something during the day.

Site Manager of the Year The selection process for the award of Site Manager of the year is firstly to review all 2012 contract statistics on the ‘Wise’ fault management system, along with the size and complexity of the contracts. A short list is drawn up of usually three sites with the lowest faults per visit over one or more contracts to give us a fair overview. Finally, we consider the Site Manager’s attitude to Health & Safety to give us a complete picture. This year produced a clear winner, Andy Brain (Wantage). Andy’s faults per visit have been consistently below 0.5% for both contracts worked on in 2012. Andy’s sites are very well presented, PPE is properly used and a very positive approach to Health & Safety is presented.

Rugby’s Latest Graduates Well done to our three new graduates! Chris Nichols - BSc (Hons) IT. David Owen - BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying. Luke Darby - BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying.

What do you think differentiates Stepnell from its competitors? Its the people and our culture. This is a family firm and not being just a number is important. The Directors and Managers are all accessible and problems can be resolved quickly. Who has most influenced your career? My aunt. She was a spinster and had a job as a Manager in the Post Office. Quite an achievement in those days as she was a woman in a mans world. She always achieved by being good at what she did and always said do your best and you can’t do any more. What’s the best advice you have ever been given? I worked in a bank when I first left school and was lucky enough to have a short spell working for the Manager’s Clerk who had the most amazing outlook on life. He taught me “Worrying is a waste of time - if you can do something about it get on and do it and if you can’t then worrying wasn’t going to make any difference, so just move on and don’t do it again”. If you weren’t an accountant what would you be? I don’t know as I only got into this by accident. I left school at 16 and started working for Barclays Bank. I lasted 4 years and then escaped to work in London at an Investment Insurance company as an actuaries assistant. I lasted 1 year at that and when threatened with being out of work went to an agency who sent me to Stepnell for an interview. I nearly left after a week but am still here after 38 years. Most valued possession? My aeroplane which I share with two other pilots. Its a 1964 Piper Comanche 260. Single engine but 260 hp. It was damaged some years ago and we bought the wreckage back and had it completely rebuilt. It took longer than we thought (5 years) as parts were difficult to find and the engineer was extremely slow. It was worth it in the end as it’s the only one left in this country. Do you have any hobbies or interests? Apart from my flying I like making and repairing things, I most like silver smithing and jewellery making. I think that the girls in the office now think that I can repair all their broken items. Sometimes they can be more of a challenge than I want. Where is your ideal holiday destination? I don’t really have normal holidays any more as we have the aeroplane and a holiday home in Norfolk, so a week off work usually starts off with plans to fly somewhere but as it is usually weather dependent the destination can change dramatically.

MPs Visit Aspen Care Homes With building work complete at Eastbank Court, Robin Walker MP joined Aspen Retirement to celebrate the official opening of the development (pictured above). Lorely Burt MP joined home owners, their families, friends and employees at Grange Court, Solihull, for tea and cakes in aid of a local hospice.

What would your ideal day be? Take off on a clear day and fly somewhere for lunch preferably somewhere foreign so we can come home with some duty free for later. Ostend for moules,Channel Islands for shellfish, Ireland for the craic, Norfolk for an overnighter etc.


New Arrivals Joe Parker (George Law) and his partner Becky welcomed the arrival of Lewis Robert Joseph Parker on 29th July 2012 weighing 6lb 8oz.

Aman Rahman was born to Manna Rahman (Rugby) and her husband Malek on 29th August 2012 weighing 8lb 2oz.

Kevin Green (Poole) and his wife Kirsty celebrated the birth of Lacey May Green on 31st August 2012. Weight: 6lb 4oz.

Marie Wilkinson (Rugby) became a grandmother on 15th June 2012 when daughter and son-in-law, Lindsay & Ben Barnard welcomed the arrival of Ella Poppy weighing 8lb 9oz.

Evangeline Teresa Lilian Wood was born to parents Emma Hamon (Rugby) and William Wood on 10th March 2012 weighing 8lb 6½ oz.

Mark Darler (George Law) and his wife Sukie welcomed the arrival Ruben Darler on 11th November 2012 weighing 6lb 13oz.

Wedding Bells Congratulations to Adam Maine (Aspen) and his new wife Jennifer who were married on 10/11/12

Congratulations to Alan Garlick (Rugby) and his new wife Sharon who tied the knot on 6/10/12

Congratulations to Albert Dunn (Wantage) who celebrated his 50th Wedding Anniversary on 2/11/2012

Sorry to see you go!

Robert Perkins (George Law) retired in August 2012 after nearly 50 years of service

Frederick Whitbread ‘Spiv’ (George Law) retired in July 2012 after 30 years of service

Chris Fisher (Rugby) retired in September 2012 after 18 years of service

The Stepnell Group would like to welcome George Law Ryan Home - Labourer  David Kent - Site Manager Poole Daniel Hunter - Plumber  Darren Launder - Painter & Decorator  Marc Llewellyn - Carpenter Paul Buik - Carpenter  Samual Gibbins - Labourer Rugby Adam Green - Apprentice Joiner (Joinery Shop)  Luke Jury - Apprentice Plant Mechanic Wantage Barry Wells - Labourer

Clive Morgan (Rugby) retired in August 2012 after 40 years of service

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Children in Nee

vember On Friday 17th No ised ra e fic Of the Rugby need by in n re ild £340 for ch , a raffle, holding bake sales charging a competitions and s down on small fee to dres the day

Well Done!


Grapevine Issue 14 Winter 2012