Unity is strength – how Group Industrial is working with fellow Tees SMEs to win big

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

The boss of an industrial services firm says he’s excited to be part of a new Tees business alliance.

Teamwork makes the dream work, they say, and a new alliance of Teesside-based small and medium-sized businesses, TeesSMEs, aims to prove it.

It brings together 10 Teesside companies which, by banding together, have the capability and capacity to deliver major projects and offer a viable alternative to major national contractors who often rely on transient workers and global supply chains.

And one of its members, Middlesbrough-based Group Industrial, is delighted to be part of it.

MD Mike Marsh told Tees Business:

“The principle is we go in and collectively put our case forward as a group of SMEs who work together, rather than a group of individuals. You can easily be overlooked if you’re on your own.

“But by teaming up in this way, with all the skills we can offer, we can assist with everything you’ll need. It gives us more bargaining power and sticks to the principle of keeping local.

“Things like the Teesworks site and the freeport are going to bring a lot of work to the region. And because we’re based at Dawson’s Wharf, in the Port of Middlesbrough, we’re ideally placed to be involved.”

Mike continues to be encouraged by Group Industrial’s progress, especially after a Covid-ravaged year.

He said: “We’re continuing to grow in the right areas. We’ve concentrated on our main sectors – waste energy, biomass, shipping and chemicals – but we always keep our options open to develop and grow.

“I’m happy we’ve come through Covid and kept strong relationships with our clients. And we’re meeting a lot more blue chip customers.

“During a very restricted year, the brakes will have been put on some projects. But as this year progresses, I think those brakes will come off socially, personally and in business. And by being part of TeesSMEs, it puts us in an even better position to take advantage when that happens.”

Among the projects Group Industrial continues to be involved with are the Tees Renewable Energy Plant at Teesport and “preserving” a mothballed biomass power station at Port Clarence. Between 50-100 people are out on site at any one time, but Mike hopes that figure will double by the summer.

And he’s delighted with Group’s growing involvement in the shipping sector, with an ongoing relationship with A&P Tees at its heart.

He said: “We’re doing scaffolding and mechanical works for A&P and we’ve started doing work in the Tyne area for them as well. We’re also looking to work with other shipping companies locally.

“Shipping can be very demanding because once the ship docks, you have to be very reactive. But it’s a team effort to make sure we’re adaptable and keep things cost-tight for them.

“The key thing is to understand the demands of different projects. You can’t just stick to the same methods you’ve always used, you have to be willing to adapt and be reactive.”

And being part of TeesSMEs, thinks Mike, could prove a game-changer for all involved.

The other nine members are Solomons Europe, Johnson Procurement Services, Projex Solutions, Addison Project, Francis Brown, AVRS Systems, Booth Construction, Seymour Civil Engineering and Lynas Engineers.

Together they offer design and project management services, civil engineering and structural design, commercial management, quantity surveying, procurement and tendering, pipework and fabrication, structural steel and cladding, control, instrumentation and electrical services, scaffolding, painting, insulation and rope access.

And while the alliance was formed with the Teesworks site in mind, it will also actively target other opportunities on Teesside, across the Northern Powerhouse and in other areas of the UK.

Members meet weekly to discuss business development opportunities. And while some new relationships are being formed, several are well established, members having worked together on a mixture of large and small projects for several years.

Alliance members already employ more than 720 people and that should rise to just under 1,000 should TeesSMEs secure work on flagship projects in the region over the next few years.

Its collective turnover, which currently stands at £80m, would also cross the £100m mark.

TeesSMEs members have signed up to several industry “good practice” initiatives, including Constructing Excellence, Conflict Avoidance Pledge and the 5% Club, in which members aim to achieve five per cent of their workforce in “earn and learn” positions over a five-year period.

And its social impact initiatives will range from employing ex-Service personnel and working with schools and youth groups to charitable work and the creation of a Resilience Fund focused on health and wellbeing training.

Founder of TeesSMEs and MD of commercial management and quantity surveying firm Solomons Europe, Dominic Doig, said: “TeesSMEs brings together like-minded businesses that have a real passion for the region and believe the post-Covid economic recovery will be led by SMEs and not necessarily the big players.

“Our collective strength, agility and desire to innovate not only means we can help deliver major projects more effectively and efficiently at a time when being on time and on budget is as crucial as ever, but we’re committed to employing locally, using local supply chains and delivering social impact initiatives that make a real difference to people’s lives and career prospects.

“It’s only right that Teesside-based SMEs play a leading role in the region’s economic renaissance.”

And as one-tenth of the alliance, Mike Marsh says Group Industrial aims to play its full part. He said:

“For me, it’s a real positive. Since we began, we’ve set our sights high and this is another big step up for us.”

Visit teessmes.co.uk. And for more about Group Industrial, visit groupindustrial.co.uk.