Solmek targeting further growth after £2.4m buyout

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Stockton ground investigation firm Solmek is now under new ownership, with director Richard Woods leading a £2.4m management buyout from owner Gary Dresser.

The purchase follows a management buyout of another of Dresser’s firm’s Dunelm last year, and Woods is thrilled to see it go through after working his way up as a long-serving Solmek employee.

The 38-year-old joined the company in 2006, starting as a graduate engineer before becoming an engineer and senior engineer and taking over as a director in 2015.

Woods said: “This is a great Tees Valley-based company to work for which is growing, and I’m definitely proud to be the new managing director.

“We train and promote from within and want everybody to progress.

“We have a really great, loyal team who have been with us a long time, and some fantastic clients.

“The aim is to keep pushing forward now.”

Solmek has been trading successfully since 2002 and has big clients across the Tees Valley such as Able UK, Ineos, ConocoPhillips and SABIC as well as long standing relationships with consulting engineers such as Billinghurst George and Partners.

It employs 23 staff at its offices and geotechnical testing laboratory on Yarm Road, and reported a £2.6m turnover in 2019, up by 136% from £1.1m in 2014 on the back of growth and acquiring new clients and contracts.

The firm specialises in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering – civil engineering of the ground prior to projects such as houses, bridges and roads being built.

Its wide range of services include detailed Phase 1 Desk Studies and Phase 2 Site Investigations using a variety of intrusive methods of drilling and trial pitting to obtain soil parameter data for both foundation design as well as land contamination.

Solmek operates its own UKAS accredited geotechnical laboratory, including laboratory apprentices employed directly from the Tees Valley area and conducts works across the UK as well as throughout the North East and Tees Valley, along with regular contract locations such as Leeds, Wakefield and the Midlands.

The firm has done recent ground investigations for a new multi-storey hotel in Manchester city centre, high rise student halls of residence in Newcastle, industrial units on the River Thames and a care village in Edinburgh.

Solmek have also been busy looking for signs of gypsum dissolution in Ripon, which is a big area for sinkholes, and did the initial ground investigation for the planned 440ft ‘Whey Aye’ ferris wheel on Newcastle’s Quayside.

In addition, the firm has invested more than £100,000 in consolidation and triaxial testing machinery for its UKAS-accredited laboratory over the last three years.

And it has gained numerous other top-line industry accreditation in recent years, including ISO 9001 for quality management systems, 14001 for environmental standards and 45001 for health and safety.

Woods mapped out his future hopes for Solmek, adding: “I think we are the main site investigation contractor in the Tees Valley after more than doubling in size with our turnover in the last five years.

“We want to grow our staff members and keep our growth going, keep providing our highly-valued existing clients with an unrivaled service and branch out and get some new clients as well.”

Find out more about Solmek on the company’s new website:


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