GMI Construction

In the first of many GMI Managing Director Blogs, Andy Hurcomb, a leader with over 35 years in the industry, claims the challenging economic climate shouldn’t hinder the Levelling Up agenda

GMI has a long and established history of developing and delivering quality products for our clients, time and time again. We have recently handed over the £40m Rail Factory in Goole for Siemens Mobility in what was one of the great British Levelling Up initiatives. We are proud of what we have delivered in East Riding, and elsewhere in the business we are developing our portfolio even further in the transportation sector, with clients like Graftongate and Leonardo in Yeovil, where my colleagues Andy Bruce and Gareth Jones (MDs) are leading the team to build the next great British Helicopter factory.

We need projects like this to level-up the country.

They are challenging schemes but at GMI they have been delivered safely, on time and on budget. Our industry works in the face of a lot of adversity and we have seen across the country, that high costs have forced many companies in to administration, as a result of fixed price contracts with no provision for price increases to reflect the double digit inflation market. There’s also a construction industry skills shortage and I am seeing this first hand as I visit any one of our 12 sites across Yorkshire, speaking to sub-contractor business owners, who have made these claims.

For example, ensuring bricks get laid means that we need to bring through the next wave of talent whether that be through apprenticeship schemes or just better communication and engagement. Ensure operatives stay on site for the full day and deliver the outputs and to the high standards we expect as a national award-winning contractor is hard. The real world tells us that some bricklayers go 500m down the road for easier work and a bit more pay. But does it pay off in the long run?

There are also pressures with the slow movement of supplies and the rising cost of materials. This is not going away. We had Brexit, COVID and the war in Ukraine leading to big time inflation. We are nimble as a business to navigate around it but it’s a pressure nonetheless. Ensuring our colleagues in the supply chain are adopting the technology we provide is another aspect of the day job now. GMI is one of the most innovative businesses I have been a part of. We have a Technology Director in Thomas West who is giving us the very best and latest tools to do the job. Ensuring our supply chain engages with them and us is part of business as usual. Digitised Pre-Induction and using a QR code  to open the gate is a now the norm.

Getting good people to build and the skills we need is getting harder and harder. At GMI we support business – we believe in Levelling Up and the agenda set out by Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove. Through our schemes across Yorkshire we have breathed new life into areas. Areas such as Goole, Sheffield with the Olympic Legacy Park, Leeds’ Central Business District with 12 King Street and provided the environment for over 5,000 jobs being created at The Springs in Leeds working closely with Scarborough Group International. The office, B3, is best in class and another catalyst for growth.

So while the pressures are there, the prosperity is there too…..That’s levelling up for you.

It would be remiss of me not to mention another big change: The Building Safety Act 2022. It’s something that I am very engaged with. It’s a challenge, a fresh challenge, to our business and the industry in general. It’s things we have done anyway through our fire Book to 100% be compliant from a safety point of view but the light is rightly being shone more closely. It’s something I support. Our CEO, Lee Powell, is fully behind it too. Health and Safety during construction and when buildings come into use is paramount at GMI and this will reinforce that position even more so.

While this blog has a general theme of challenge, there is a rod that runs right through it and that’s people. Without people, people working together with clients, with sub-contractors and consultants at the sharp end of construction, (and hand in hand with communities with Responsible Business at heart) we can’t build anything to stimulate the growth the economy desperately needs. We get the people right, we get the process right, we build safely, engage with our communities in the strong wind of challenge that we have now, we will win the day.