Forging a formula for success in the construction industry

Forging a formula for success in the construction industry

Conneely Group is on a continuous growth plan that is both achievable and sustainable by maintaining its existing client base through offering them best service. Demonstrating the success of this approach, the firm is targeting a turnover of £50 million within the next three years.

Conneely Drylining was established in 1985 by Chairman and CEO Eamon Conneely, and provided drylining, partitioning and plastering services to the construction industry. Over the past 25 years Conneely Group, which is now broken into two sub-divisions Conneely Drylining and Conneely Facades, has developed into highly successful provider of metal stud partitioning, drylining and exterior facades. The level of commitment and expertise from its skilled management and workforce, and the unfaltering emphasis on quality has largely attributed to this success.

The company concentrate on its core areas of expertise and consequently has become a specialist in drylining and plastering, lightweight steel framing, screeding, render and cladding. In demonstrating its level of quality and experience, Conneely Group has forged extremely close relationships with the likes of British Gypsum, Metsec, Sto and Eternit, some of the industry’s largest suppliers.

Its expertise and experience in the industry means it is able to successfully complete the most technically demanding of projects to the highest level of quality. The organisational and site management structure of Conneely Drylining and Conneely Facades enables the company to regularly accept projects on a fast track basis, driving the program on to completion in accordance with its clients’ needs. At Conneely Group, the emphasis from day one has been on quality, efficiency, and providing its clients with relevant services – this focus has provided the company the springboard from which it will derive future success.

As well as focusing on quality, the company is also passionate about continuous improvement. As Michael Cockerton, finance director at Conneely,explained:, “It is a mainstay of our business.  We have always encouraged our teams to question the existing strategies and procedures and offer their own way of improving everyday tasks, ultimately this creates a culture of continuous improvement that we are happy to embrace.”

People management

The senior management at Conneely Group recognise that the true value of a company is rooted in its people, and as such the place a huge emphasis on people development. Conneely is recognised as being one of the leading drylining and façade contractors in the south east of England, it has a reputation for quality work and this in itself attracts quality employees, however the company does not stop there. “We have always had good employee retention,” says Cockerton. “We recognise that it’s the people that make the business, and we try to ensure that they are supported by senior management along the way so that they can give their best, we expect hard work but in return reward well.” 

In the last year, the company has set up Conneely Academy. “Whilst we have invested heavily in training throughout the years we have set this company up to ensure that all employees have the specific training to ensure that they are informed on best practice,” says Cockerton. The company has developed in-house courses that vary from labourers’ specific training to site management training. Courses include site safety awareness to SMSTS, NVQ level 1 to NVQ level 7, Quality training for site managers and supervisors with manufacturers to first aid for office staff. “We ensure the workforce has the knowledge to carry out their works competently,” says Cockerton.

As well as offering a roster of in-house training courses for existing employees, Conneely group also offers graduates an opportunity to work in all the departments of the business during their gap years or provide site based gap years only, depending on how confident the graduate is on their career choice after they complete their degree in construction management. 

“Apprentices have one day at college whilst working in their chosen field e.g. Quantity Surveying / Estimating / Accounting etc. Apprentices work on live projects under the guidance of their line managers and get to be part of the project and the team giving them invaluable experience. They also get to see the results of their efforts, encouraging their continual development within the industry,” Cockerton explains.

Conneely aim to advance a high skilled workforce and the apprentices will be encouraged to continue their studies with the relevant degree to the chosen career. The company also works with training colleges and provides placements over a period of three months to a year - often the apprentices continue to work with Conneely after their placement.

“Conneely are currently developing content to provide a good entry level into the drylining industry where we aim to provide actual site content and work placement where individuals work alongside experienced drylining teams in order to help turn unemployed into employment. We also work alongside the Berkeley group who run a scheme to get unemployed in to employment and we are pleased to have taken on 10 through this scheme last year,” says Cockerton. With an ever-looming skills shortage in the industry, its schemes like this that see Conneely grow and succeed in a tough environment. 

Technology and the supply chain

Conneely recognises that to be successful it is reliant on the strength of its supply chain and relationships within it. “We have built up great relationships over the years with our supply chain which has helped us sustain our growth.  We try to engage with our supply chain early in the tendering process so that they are with us all the way from the pricing of a secured tender through to the awarding of the project,” says Cockerton.

Part of having a robust supply chain is having stable and innovative technology solutions to back it up, particularly in today’s technology driven world where customers and business partners alike expect it. Conneely endeavours to be at the forefront of new techniques and technologies within the construction industry. As Cockerton explains, “Over the years we have been early adopters of new drylining and ceiling products, new screeds and new cladding systems. We will always happily engage with our supply chain and customers early in the process if there is value to be added to the project that we can all benefit from, whether that is a decrease in costs or programme length, or an improvement to the environmental and sustainability performance or to the method of working to increase safety levels.

“Prior to embarking on our latest growth plan we invested in an integrated estimating, surveying and accounting system to enable us to take the next big step up. This system has allowed us to increase our output whilst maintaining the same levels of quality and efficiency throughout the business,” he says.

Poised for future growth

Conneely is able to complete the most technically demanding projects within tight programme periods to the highest standards of safety and quality due to its unwavering commitment to quality, people, and continuous improvement. “We offer both the complete internal drylining fit out through to painted finish along with the complete envelope solution reducing the amount of contractors a client has to interface with. Our management systems have been compliant to ISO 9001, 14001 and OHAS 18001 for many years and have recently been successfully re-audited for our three year renewal.  Furthermore we are CHAS accredited and Achilles Building confidence 5 star rated,” says Cockerton.

But what does the future hold for the business? “In five years’ time we would like to see ourselves as one of the top three businesses within our sector of the construction industry. We anticipate achieving this by the continually striving to improve our business practices, training of our staff and workforce, maintaining the excellent customer and supplier relationships and generally by everyone within the business working towards the same goal,” says Cockerton. If its track record is anything to go by, this is certainly achievable.