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NCE/CECA Contractors of the Year Awards: Emerging contractor award

Starting a business in the construction industry is tough at any time, with hundreds of long-established players all scrapping for every job. But throw in the first recession for a decade, and the task gets even tougher.

Which is why this year, the NCE/CECA Contractors of the Year Awards introduce a new category for firms attempting to break into this challenging market. The Emerging Contractor Awards seeks to reward the most innovative, ambitious, and forward-thinking firms looking to enhance their presence in construction.


Winner: CJ Haughey Construction


CJ Haughey has added surfacing works to its services

Established 10 years ago, CJ Haughey has steadily grown into a specialist subcontractor with a turnover approaching £30M.

Founded on the simple but effective principles of hard work, dedication and a “can do” attitude, the company has thrived, developing an envious client base. In recent years the company’s development has accelerated: 40% growth over the past 12 months alone.

The main objective over the last year has been to put in place the infrastructure for a future upturn and to take advantage of the gaps left by the unfortunate demise of major civil engineering and reinforced concrete structures contractors.

“The strategy has been to tackle the recession head on and to think outside the box.”

Chris Haughey

“We have been keen to take advantage of the very excellent professional people more readily available due to the downturn,” says managing director Chris Haughey.

“In short, as opposed to battening down the hatches, the strategy has been to tackle the recession head on and to think outside the box.

“CJ Haughey Construction has committed funds for the investment in this infrastructure and has a long-term strategy. The plan is now, more so than ever, to be a top 100 contractor and to do so is to become a £100M-a-year-plus turnover business,” he adds.

Structured growth

The firm has been recruiting hard with the appointment of key staff and continued structured growth. Services introduced in the last 12 months include groundworks, civil engineering, ground stabilisation, RC structures, surfacing and highways works. To support these new services, new directors have been brought in to head up civil engineering, RC structures and ground stabilisation.

The firm has also started to expand its geographical reach outside of its traditional market of the Midlands, as part of its long-term plan to become a national contractor. As such it has carried out work as far north as Teesport and as far south as Devon. “Further geographical growth will be achieved through the careful selection of projects and collaboration with customers,” says Haughey. As part of its future plans, the firm has purchased a new office and a plant maintenance/storage facility totalling 3,250m² on the outskirts of Coventry.

“This is our single largest contract to date and is testimony to our growing reputation of efficiently managing and delivering large scale projects.”

Chris Haughey

The firm has just completed its largest project to date − a £9M package of works that included 278 works, foundations, drainage and an extensive external hard standing as part of the creation of a massive new distribution centre for Tesco.

The project provided CJ Haughey with a number of logistical challenges, all of which were overcome with careful planning and initiative, says Haughey. “One of the biggest issues was the size of the site and the management of a variety of elements of the works.

“The project was completed ahead of time and on budget and without any accidents, reflecting the company’s ability to tackle challenging projects and deliver each and every time,” says Haughey.

“This is our single largest contract to date and is testimony to our growing reputation of efficiently managing and delivering large scale projects.

“The traditional values on which the company was founded are very much the bedrock of the company today, enhanced with a genuine belief in collaboration and close working.”

Setting the standard

The company has recently been awarded the Construction Skills Certification Scheme’s Employer Certificate of Commitment at platinum level, the highest-ranking certificate within CSCS, demonstrating a commitment to ensuring that 100% of its workforce is CSCS compliant. This is supported with recognitions from CECA, the British Hydropower Association, Achilles, Construct and Britpave, illustrating the company’s commitment to quality. Commitment to training is also second to none, claims Haughey. “The company operates a professional trainees programme.

Trainees are provided with mentors to facilitate the passing on of valued advice, information and experiences, thus ensuring the company has a continual flow of employees.

“All of this is supported with an impeccable safety record and a focus on innovation and sustainability,” he says. “CJ Haughey Construction is a contractor that really is setting the standard for the industry.”


  • Civils turnover: £28M
  • Civils profit: £1.4M
  • Civils work in hand: £19M
  • Overall turnover: £28M
  • Pretax profit: £1.4M
  • Total workforce: 304
  • Engineers employed: 26

The firm’s biggest job to date

The firm’s biggest job has been a new Tesco distribution centre

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