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Rapid expansion as utilities firm digs in for skills and new jobs

Rapid expansion as utilities firm digs in for skills and new jobs

Fast-growing Ryeland Developments israpidly making a name for itself as aleading contractor to some of the country’s biggest utilities companies.

Client: Ryeland Developments Ltd, Scotia Business Park, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent

Activity: Services to utilities sector including pipelines, infrastructure, traffic management and fibre optics

Mentor: Sean Canavan Programme: Let’s Do Mentoring managed by the North Staffs Chamber Business Services Team

By proving that its team has the abilities not only to fulfil demanding contracts but save huge sums for the likes of Severn Trent Water, BT and E.ON, the Tunstall-based business is expanding at a breathtaking rate.

At the heart of the business, husband and wife team Calvin and Margaret Whitfield – Chief Executive and Managing Director respectively – have found themselves facing some major challenges. Thankfully, for the past year they have had a trusted business mentor to turn to, Sean Canavan.

“This is a 365-days-a-year business and I love to work, but Sean’s input has been vital to us achieving what we have over the past year. It’s been a brilliant partnership,” Calvin explained.

Having worked his way up from humble beginnings, Calvin firmly believes in hard graft and gaining better skills. He founded Ryeland Developments in 2006 as a provider of infrastructure and utilities to a wide range of development projects, from a single unit to a 100-property site.

By 2011 the company was increasingly focusing on the utilities sector, working chiefly with BT, but its big break came last autumn by winning a contract from Enterprise plc to work for Severn Trent Water. “We had four weeks to get 55 men in place – at that time our workforce was around 15,” said Calvin.

The firm’s round-the-clock service for Severn Trent – based firmly on a partnership approach – has been a great success, efficiently handling a multiplicity of excavations across the Midlands and at the same time saving the water company large sums in leakages. Ryeland’s complete turnkey service was further extended earlier this year when a traffic management division was opened.

The workforce keeps growing – it is now 105, with plans for another 20-30 recruits in the coming weeks, reaching a total of 300 in a year’s time. The firm has now swapped its Portakabin HQ for a brand new 4,500 sq ft head office on the Scotia Business Park, plus an adjoining 10,000 sq ft unit and four acres of land.

The next stage of the expansion plan is to establish a training school at the new headquarters. “Skills and safety levels are vital to the business. I’m fortunate to have a great team here and I’m committed to developing young people’s skills to safeguard our future,” said Calvin.

The relationship with mentor Sean Canavan has been gone well from their very first meeting, just hours after Calvin had been told of the Let’s Do Mentoring scheme.

“Ever since I started to work I’ve been prepared to learn from people who are more experienced than myself and that’s how it’s been with Sean. He’s got experience and contacts that have been absolutely invaluable to us. “He’s taken me out of the loop of day-today business. I’ve been able to see the solutions to problems just by talking it through with him. I trust him opinions and he’s completely confidential,” said Calvin.

“There must be many other local businesses who don’t realise how valuable the mentoring scheme is or understand just what it could do for them,” he added. Sean Canavan, their mentor, said that his role was essentially a light steer to keep the company focused on a plan which is aimed at combining fast growth and sound financial management. “Ryeland are an astonishing organisation - they have met all targets in the past year and have gained the confidence of their important clients who have recognised their ability to deliver projects on time and within budget. I am delighted to have been of some help to them,” he said.

Positive outcomes

Important new contracts won, traffic management division formed, new headquarters opened

Workforce increased from 15 to 105 in 12 months.

Projected growth to 300 employees in a year. Training facility planned.

If you would like to access mentoring or become a mentor contact the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce
Contact details: NSCCI, Commerce House, Festival Park, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5BE
Tel : 01782 213 929 | Fax : 01782 202 448 | Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)