I can’t really say the industry has changed that much during the past year. We still have a skills shortage which generates challenges throughout the supply chain and customers still want cost certainty.
Probably the biggest change is the Health & Safety executive’s fee’s for intervention and turnover based fines which have a disproportionate effect on the construction industry.
However, 2016 has seen two key moments which have impacted on the construction industry.
One was Storm Desmond, which actually hit the UK on 5th December 2015 and displaced thousands of families from the north and west of the country. Xeric Systems, one of Gelder Group’s companies, operates the UK’s largest fleet of high energy drying equipment. This storm delivered both Xeric and our Insurance Repair and Renovation division record sales.
The other – obviously, was the June 23 referendum. I was playing in a charity golf competition on the 24th, the day of the result.
I’d watched the results coming through in disbelief and then about three holes in, everyone’s phones started ringing, a guy’s home sale fell through who I felt sorry for, I then received a call from the BBC wanting me to comment on house builders shares, some of which were down 50%.
It was surreal being on a golf course and receiving such calls. Brexit pretty much killed new orders for a couple of months, but thankfully now we appear to be over the shock and new orders are flowing once again.
Having said that, 2016 has been our best year ever.
We are now two years into a three-year vision, launched by HRH The Princess Royal in 2014, our 20by17 challenge.
Highlights for me surround the box ticking of different parts of our vision. These include the launch of the UK’s first ever construction career college, a partnership with Lincoln College. Our community fund benefiting 14 separate charities, hitting both record customer and staff satisfaction scores and delivery record revenue.
It’s been great, there has been a positive buzz around the company all year.