Industrial services firm branches out for power station preservation

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Middlesbrough-based Group Industrial has already built up an enviable reputation for delivering high-quality industrial services – from fabrication and insulation to coatings, pipework and project management.

It’s been involved in the ongoing Tees Renewable Energy Plant project at Teesport, as well as working in chemical plants across Teesside.

But two of its latest projects show just how quickly the firm is adapting to the requirements of its evolving customer base.

For not only has its attention shifted seaward, with work in the ship maintenance sector, it’s also been tasked with “preserving” a large industrial site and its facilities.

The sprawling 120-acre site at Port Clarence is occupied by a biomass power station which has been mothballed since construction.

Until an operator comes along, the plant needs keeping in decent order – and that’s where Group Industrial comes in.

It has been tasked with giving the site some ongoing TLC. And according to MD Mike Marsh, it shows the firm’s flexibility and willingness to grow by taking on new tasks.

He said: “We were introduced to the site and asked to have a look at preservation – effectively make it safe, keep it under control and ensure it’s ready for any future projects.

“The owners came to us, with us being a local company. Once we got to know them and understood what they were looking for, we got to do more tasks for them.

“Some of the methods and processes are new for us, but we like to keep learning. It’s a different dimension.”

Mike says the general brief is to survey and preserve the site.

“We maintain the equipment, check valves, look at pipework, that sort of thing. We clean, we lubricate, we get the pipes ready for winter…basically we preserve it in a good condition for a future buyer.

“And it’s using a lot of the skills we already have, just in a slightly different way.

“Group International usually has between ten and 20 people on site at any one time.

And while the work is generally five days a week, a call-out team is available at any time for that, or any of the firm’s projects.

Mike adds: “We’re a reactive company.

And during Covid, we’ve continued to work through it and actually make progress.”

It’s been a rapid rise for Group Industrial – established by Middlesbrough-born Mike in 2017.

Recognising a need for workers and industrial services, former steelworker Mike’s knowledge of industry and the skill sets required has helped the firm grow.

It usually has around 100 workers on its books but that can increase, depending on the projects being worked on.

Building surveyor Paul Ryder is the latest appointment to the team, based at Dinsdale House on the Riverside Industrial Estate, Middlesbrough.

And given its position by the River Tees at Dawson’s Wharf, there’s another, very appropriate sector the firm is also now targeting – shipping.

Jim Rush, of the firm’s sales and marketing team, said: “We’ve started doing some repair and maintenance work on the Tees for shipping companies.

“The services we provide are quite diverse but transfer over to ships very well.

“We’re on the river, so we’re quite close to what’s going on down there.

“Ships come in for general repair and we concentrate on things like scaffolding and insulation – the standard services we provide, but in a shipyard or dock setting.”

Tasks have also included helping Lloyds Insurance officials with their inspection work on lifeboat launch pads.

“During Covid, a lot of shipping companies have kept their dockside time to a minimum,” adds Jim. “They’ve had their engineers on their ships out at sea, doing the basics, but they’ve restricted their time in dock.

“But as restrictions relax, we expect to see more activity in the docks because there’ll be essential maintenance that needs carrying out.”

But whether land or sea-focused, Group International aims to more than keep its head above water in competitive markets – and the signs are very good so far.

Mike, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, said: “We are growing with our current clients, but we are always interested in moving into different sectors.

“We understand each sector works in different ways. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s all part of growing as a company.

“We’ve always progressed and worked hard so, from where we started three years ago, we’re probably more advanced than I thought we’d be at this stage. Turnover’s growing, everything’s growing really.

“But for now, the idea is to remain sustainable, be flexible, continue to grow and continue to be good at what we do.”

Find out more at groupindustrial.co.uk.