Warden Construction’s Managing Director, Richard Kenworthy, in the company’s joinery workshop
So far, 39 companies have been appointed to JV North’s SME lot for its 2017/21 framework for schemes valued at under £1 million (a separate framework was created for works over £1 million).
One of the chosen companies is Warden Construction, which has already won two schemes from JV North members.
Here it explains how a focus on people allows it to deliver the best service possible for housing associations.
A purpose built headquarters, an adjoining construction academy (opened in 2012, that provides support both locally and nationwide in the delivery of 200 – 300 NVQs per year and has successfully delivered over 150 apprenticeships working with local partners and stakeholders to deliver pre-apprenticeship, schools and Access to Employment programmes) and a joinery workshop making bespoke fittings.
The level of investment and commitment feels more like what would be expected of a PLC building company.
This, however, is the home of Preston-based Warden Construction, a third generation family business formed in 1954.
Today it employs 134 members of staff including estimators, quantity surveyors, health and safety, contract managers, project managers, site managers and a team of directly employed, highly skilled tradespeople.
Reinvestment is a central theme to its success from the delivery of housing projects and development of staff, to the time spent communicating with tenants and residents in the communities it works.
Turnover was £21.8 million in 2016 with more than 50 per cent coming from housing frameworks, long-term agreements and repeat business.
Warden Construction was appointed to JV North’s framework for three lots: new build, refurbishment and fire safety work.
WINNING JV NORTH CONTRACTS
It is currently on-site at two JV North schemes with the design and build of 10 homes for Community Gateway Association in Thompson Street, Preston complete with landscaping of surrounding areas, construction of a new access road, pavements and kerbings, installation of street lighting and associated utilities to all properties.
The Croft View development in Northwich, Cheshire for JV North member Weaver Vale Housing Trust sees Warden Construction designing and building 11 homes complete with associated drainage, external works and parking.
It has also worked for other housing associations including Trafford Housing Trust and First Choice Homes Oldham as well as housing works for Salford City Council.
Warden Construction says the importance of communicating with tenants and residents is vital and issues regular newsletters and holds open events to explain its work to local people and answer questions.
Managing Director at Warden Construction, Richard Kenworthy, said: “We don’t outsource, we deliver on time and on budget, and we have a lot of experience working considerately in housing associations’ neighbourhoods understanding the issues landlords, tenants and residents face during construction works.
“This helps us build long-term relationships with housing associations and deliver a very personal service.”
FIRST CLASS FACILITIES
Warden Construction’s integrated approach to building is supported by a technology-focused, purpose-built head office.
Adjacent is its joinery facility that offers clients bespoke off-site solutions making furniture, staircases and door sets with quality and delivery times guaranteed.
Its skills academy holds the local Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) contract for the delivery of apprenticeships to local employers, providing a strong mix of trade provision including biblical trades such as bricklaying and joinery through to specialist trades such as plastering, wall and floor tiling, maintenance and groundworks.
Through continued success and growth, the centre opened its new 8,000 sq ft facility reflecting significant growth and additional investment to the campus.
This investment has allowed the company to work with the Lancashire Employment and Skills Executive Partnership to deliver a range of pre-apprenticeship, schools and Access to Employment Lancashire programmes that form part of the LEP priorities for Lancashire, under the Moving on and Access to Employment Lancashire programmes. These programmes are supported and funded through the European Social Fund.
APPRENTICESHIPS, TRAINING AND SKILLS
Through effective partnering and work with local schools and pupil referral agencies such as South Shore Academy and Education Diversity, the centre is able to provide an alternative vocational curriculum that aims to develop both a range of employability and trade skills for young people, promote the construction industry as a viable career, and provide a clear pathway to apprenticeships within the sector.
Warden Construction is committed to creating opportunities for local apprentices, all of whom complete a three-year course covering a wide variety of construction techniques leading to NVQ qualifications and full-time employment with the company.
To support this work, Warden Construction has made a clear commitment to deliver a minimum of one apprentice per £1 million contract it is awarded, and works with the Skills Construction Centre to recruit from its pre-apprenticeship programmes.
Most recently, this includes Liam McNally who was recruited as a groundworks apprentice after completing the eight week pre-apprenticeship programme, delivered as part of the Moving On Programme Lancashire for 16-18-year-olds and designed to support those that are not in education, employment or training.
Liam is working on Community Gateway Association’s Thompson Street scheme where he will spend the majority of the first eight months of his apprenticeship with Warden Construction and undertake his college training at the Skills Construction Centre.
Warden Construction has a strong tradition of apprenticeship recruitment – both technical and trades based – and has supported 38 apprenticeships during the past five years. Through successful partnering with the Skills Construction Centre it extends this ethos of training and development to the wider construction industry and local community.
“This effective partnering with local colleges, LEP, frameworks form an integral approach to developing an effective employment and skills plan to ensure that maximum social value is achieved on every contract the company delivers,” says Mr Kenworthy.
“We do this by upskilling through NVQ delivery on-site; apprenticeship investment; providing support to the pre-apprenticeship, schools and Access to Employment programmes to provide opportunities for local people and sustainable futures to enhance projects; and, by working to promote the industry, attracting new entrants and meeting the skills shortages the construction industry is currently facing.”
A FAMILY BUSINESS
It is clearly a happy place to work with a family feel; nearly half of Warden Construction’s staff stay for more than 10 years.
The company was founded by Richard Kenworthy’s grandfather and there are several examples of families working at the company for many years.
Three generations of the Richardson family have worked in the joinery workshop with father and son Kevin and Luke following Kevin’s uncle Walter and his two sons into the business.
Luke is currently an apprentice joiner and will soon take his HNC in Construction (funded by Warden Construction) so that he can fulfil his ambition of progressing into a management role.
The Richardson family connection doesn’t end there as Luke’s sister, Leah, has just joined as a Contracts Administrator.
“We are committed to offering fulfilling careers and a being a good employer so people look forward to coming in to work,” adds Mr Kenworthy.
“The development of our employees and our involvement in frameworks has allowed us to confidently employ more trade apprentices and invest in more training through our internal technical, management and professional programmes.”
Some 90 per cent of Warden employees have been through or are currently taking part in its varied training initiatives.
This ranges from apprentices and HNCs to NVQ Level VII (within three years of joining) and CIOB and RICS accreditations for senior staff.
Sean Stafford, Director at Saffer Cooper which manages JV North’s development programme, said: “Warden Construction’s approach to reinvesting in its people allows them to deliver schemes that are of a very high standard which is what our members expect to receive.
“Since JV North formed over a decade ago, we have used SMEs to deliver works and we have been very impressed with not only the finished product but the level of service offered and their commitment to reinvesting in their businesses.
“We wanted to make best use of this, which is why we formalised the arrangement in our framework lot for works valued at under £1 million.
“JV North has a very ambitious home building programme and as such, SMEs of the ilk of Warden Construction are going to make a significant contribution across our membership.”