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Size matters

NCE CONTRACTORS FILE - 'Small enough to care, large enough to cope' is the motto of Dew Pitchmastic. Bernadette Redfern discovers a hands on approach that is proving successful with clients big and small.

The large contracts we take on show that we can compete on the big stage but we are a relatively small company and many clients feel comfortable with this. For example we may have senior directors attending monthly project meetings. Clients like it that our senior management is so hands on, ' says civil engineering director Stephen Sharp.

Dew had a successful year in 2004, with turnover leaping from £140M to £175.9M.

'We won three pretty big contracts that really gave us a boost, ' says Sharp. All are what Sharp describes as 'industrial civil' and all involve the construction of manufacturing plants for a range of clients.

'The largest of these was a paper handling facility at Tilbury Docks, ' says Sharp. Building the factory itself was a £17M job but the associated clearance works took the value up to £26M.

There was also a warehouse in Harlow for United Glass worth £10M and a £21M share of a £145M design and build contract for a drug manufacturing facility for pharmaceutical company Novartis. 'We work for select clients in this sector and so the work tends to ebb and flow according to their own fluctuations rather than the economy. We try to balance out our workload by working for both public and private clients.

That way when we do experience recessionary conditions and government is pushing more money in through the public sector we can make up for the drop in industrial work, ' he says.

Nevertheless Dew Pitchmastic expects turnover to fall back to pre 2004 levels this year as the large industrial contracts are completed. 'Our strategy is stability and to largely stay as we are. Like the rest of the industry we have resources issues. It is difficult to find good people to manage projects and the resources to do it but we do expect to see some growth in ports and harbours work and on the railways, ' says Sharp.

In ports and harbours, Sharp says the company is seeing an increase in improvement works all over the country, from the Shetlands to the south coast.

On the railways Network Rail's decision to let 30% of work competitively has opened new opportunities to the company, which had missed out on some of the earlier frameworks. 'It is an interesting time. We are just beginning to see work coming through and soon enough there will be new frameworks to bid for, ' says Sharp.

Vital statistics

Company: Dew Pitchmastic

Head office: Sheffield UK civil engineering turnover: £175.9M

Civils turnover as percentage of overall: 100%

UK civil engineering profit: £41M

UK civil engineering work in hand: £95M

Biggest clients: Industrial blue chip companies (£80M approx), local government (£24M), Highways Agency (£18M) Biggest sectors: Buildings (£82M); Manufacturing (£35M)

Biggest growth areas: Ports and harbours, Rail

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