Smith Brothers celebrates 20 years of trading with new logo and industry reflection
From humble beginnings as HV contractors working from the back of their van, Smith Brothers’ founders Richard and John Smith are this month celebrating two decades in business.
The past twenty years has been an era of significant change for the global energy market. Green power targets have called for a shake-up within the industry – and the ability to adapt and diversify has been central to Smith Brothers’ success.
The company’s aim has always been to be the “go to” Independent Connections Provider and believes they are now amongst the top three providers in the country. Investing strongly in resources has enabled Smith Brothers to be a market leader in the delivery of EHV (extra high voltage – 66kv – 132kv) turnkey projects, which now play a significant role in growing the business.
In the five years from 2012 to 2017, company turnover grew to over £27m per annum. And, following a realignment of the business throughout 2017 and 2018, the company has expanded its offering to include EPC services. As a result, the number of quotes for large-scale projects – between 2017-18 – has risen by 122% on the previous year. This investment in the next stage of growth has resulted in an order book exceeding £40 million, and expectations that figure will grow to £100 million in firm orders, by the companies end of year in July.
In response to a wealth of opportunities across the Irish Sea, a Dublin branch opened in 2017, along with a Sheffield HQ for a dedicated power system design team the following year. They won’t stop there either, with plans to continue an upward trajectory – both in terms of revenue and headcount – through expansion into Scotland and the south of England.
Throughout all of this, day-to-day operations are still overseen by the brothers, and the company has evolved into a truly family firm. For those not on the family tree, the senior management team places an equal amount of emphasis on creating a positive culture and is proud of its high levels of staff retention. John Smith, managing director said; “We have 20% of our workforce who have been with us for over 10 years - our success isn’t just down to Richard and myself, it’s testament to our entire workforce and the skill, talent and effort these people have put into the business.”
Yet despite their growth, it’s fair to say the 20-year journey has not always been straightforward for the Smith Brothers team. Transition in the demand for various types of energy, skills shortages and of course, Brexit, all play a part.
Richard Smith, managing director added: “When we began, the industry relied heavily on fossil fuel technology, but now we’re hurtling towards a greener future. Of course, we’ve experienced skills shortages within the engineering sector, but have succeeded in encouraging talent through a range of apprenticeship and training schemes.
“We’ve come a long way since those early days of two brothers working out of the back of a van, and twenty years in business is certainly an achievement to be proud of. But now it’s a case of what’s next!”
The award-winning Yorkshire brand has unveiled a commemorative logo to mark the occasion, and all eyes are now on the future. Independent Connection Provider (ICP) and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) statuses are sure to be driving forces behind their success, believes fellow director Dave Ogden.
“Being an ICP and an EPC is a great selling point for us,” he said. “The removal of renewables subsidies pulled the proverbial rug from under us in 2016 – as what used to account for 80% of our revenue was called into question – but by diversifying into heavy industry, maintenance, gas-peaking and battery technology we continued to flourish during that difficult period for the renewables industry.”
“Of course, with the goal of closing coal-fired power stations by 2025, the country will need to learn how to cope all over again. There will be pressure to evaluate the state of our network – and its efficiencies. Add to that increased uptake in electric vehicles (EV), and the government needs to find a way to meet the demand for the required supporting infrastructure.”
Operating in varied sectors including commercial and industrial, renewables and water treatment, the Smith Brothers roster includes major nationwide utilities providers, local SMEs, construction partners, and blue-chip brands, including Kellogg’s, Jaguar Land Rover and United Utilities, to name just a few.