Group Industrial UK may not be one of Teesside’s bigger names in the industrial services sector, but the fledgling firm is growing fast and gaining ground.
Established by managing director Mike Marsh in 2017 after he had started it as a home-based recruitment firm three years earlier, Group Industrial UK restructured and expanded to become an industrial project-based company, specialising in the major areas of the industry.
The firm provides manpower and expertise in scaffolding and rope access, mechanical services, industrial coatings, industrial pipework and industrial insulation.
And Group Industrial is growing at such a rapid rate that it has started to see its turnover reflect its ongoing success in the last 12 months.
Middlesbrough-born MD Mike says none of it would have been possible without an intimate knowledge of the industry and the deep skillset of his workforce.
Mike, 39, joined British Steel at Lackenby as a 17-year-old and worked on the scaffolding and access sectors for a decade.
He worked his way up from the shop floor to management level and set up his own industrial recruitment company shortly before the threat of site closure, as a way of finding employment for many of the unfortunate men who were made redundant.
Little did he know at the time, but he was sowing the seeds for what would quickly evolve into a multi-million pound operation with a burgeoning reputation.
“I’ve got a lot to thank the workers from the steelworks for,” says Mike, on reflection. “When the people in the steel industry were made redundant, they shared and supported my vision and joined forces with me in the challenging foundation stages of the company, which was then known as Industrial Recruitment UK, based at the Innovation Centre in Redcar.
“We grew the company to the point where we were supplying industrial services across the UK in different sectors to well established blue chip companies.
“Down to the positive support and effective skillset of the local workforce, it was evident that we had an underlying capability to deliver an overall industrial service, in addition to a labour supply.
“We quickly decided to change the structure and change the long term view – so I created Group Industrial UK, which was always going to be a long term goal and would have different specialist divisions.
“Initially, we were never going to be in the spotlight up against the major industrial companies. We had to build a reputation, popularity and credibility to be able to compete and succeed alongside them.
“But I knew it would work – and it is working. We are working as one of the main contractors for MGT Teesside on the Tees REP biomass power station at Teesport, for example.
“We’ve gone from being basically a recruitment company to a service-supply group, and it has all been built from us realising we were capable of doing it.
“We might not have thought it originally, but it has all been possible because we could provide a bit more than simply the right man for the job.
“The industries I was involved in provided a good grounding and level of experience to take into this company, and the current team offer the necessary skillset and experience from the same background and sectors.
“We are gradually getting recognised, and we were always going to be a company with big potential. We continue to obtain respective accreditations and awards and we’re growing our involvement in the biomass sector, in addition to working in alternative sectors such as shipping, chemicals and local authority projects.
“We are learning all the time and have got to a point where we can say, ‘This is what we do and who we are’ because we have been doing – and we are doing – some great stuff. The recognition is there now and a lot of bigger companies are coming to us.”
Group Industrial has offices in Dinsdale House on AV Dawson’s site at Dawson’s Wharf on the Riverside Industrial Estate in Middlesbrough, next to the River Tees, and occupies half of the fabrication building opposite.
The firm has an overall workforce of around 100, currently out on various sites around the UK as well as on Teesside, including an office-based team of eight – among them Mike’s wife and co-director, Louise, contract manager Daniel Hughes, sales manager Sean Falconbridge and business administrator Emma Jennings.
“All of our team come from respective working backgrounds and have something different to offer,” explains Mike. “And Louise has been instrumental in the company’s success. She is highly respected by our workforce and is an influential figure in maintaining a grounded approach.
“We don’t pretend to be anything we’re not – we’re a growing, small company – but we’re proud of the progress we’re making.
“I’m very driven to eventually be alongside and compete with the major industry players and be recognised nationally as a major industrial supplier.
“And to me, the real value of the company is where it has come from and its core values of what it delivers.
“It’s not about making a quick profit. It’s about having strong systems in place, a good track record and a fantastic client base.
“That’s the bigger picture. We are six years in now – three years into the services side – and if you look how far we have come over the past year, it’s pretty incredible really.
“We’ve gone from having myself, Dan and Louise part-time to having a team of staff in the office and around 100 people out on site. And we are constantly fielding enquiries from bigger companies.”
Mike refuses to get carried away with Group Industrial’s meteoric rise, even though he has firm plans to turn it into a major UK industrial services player. For him, it’s about getting the balance right.
“We are working alongside and compete with major industrial companies, so we remain understanding of the impact of success and failure and ensure a balanced approach is our priority at all times.
“We are progressing nicely and we monitor what we commit to in consideration of our vision and business model.
“It’s quite a brave thing we’ve done. To sit at the level we are now with the big projects we’re involved in is a real milestone. Watch this space.”