16 June 2020
sponsored by CIOB
Walker Construction is a multi-disciplined construction company operating throughout South East England. To ensure a high level of operational focus, the company is centered around three operating divisions – Rail, Civil Engineering, and Building – which, despite their autonomy, often work together. The company is active across the built environment and has undertaken projects for clients in the rail infrastructure sector, local authority, water and highway departments, the Ministry of Defense, healthcare and education clients, and for housing and commercial building developers.
Founded in 1965 in North London, by three Walker brothers, Steve, Ray, and Hector. The brothers paved the way for a forward-thinking and unique family business - which is still going strong over 55 years later. By 1970 the company had relocated to Folkstone. Over the next two decades, the company consolidated its position by undertaking civil engineering and public works contracts for both local and central government.
Building a family business takes grit, work ethic and diplomacy. Walker Construction holds its employees central to its ongoing success. The past five years have seen heavy investment on an employee-centric approach, from a dedicated Training Centre to an industry-leading approach to mental health, behavioural safety, and diversity and inclusion. Improving the culture in which they work has been of the highest priority.
In 2019, Walker Construction celebrated their 55th birthday and witnessed a jump in turnover and real growth. The family business attributes its success to proven expertise and experience as well as its enthusiasm for working closely with stakeholders. Their collaborative approach begins from within.
Walker Construction takes its role as a construction SME very seriously whether it’s a commitment to developing employees, sharing best practice with its supply chain, or promoting the construction industry to young people.
In more detail
Employee engagement has played a huge part in improving productivity. From breakfast meetings to newly launched employee awards their People Strategy sets out five inter-related aims, which embeds their considerate and diverse culture. Walker Construction aims to attract and recruit the best employees, develop and support employees, prioritise retention and rewarding employees, cultivate outstanding leadership and management, and create and maintain a progressive, collaborative and considerate working environment.
Their dedicated Training Centre is at employee’s disposal. By employing a ‘measurable outcomes’ system, they can analyse the success of a course based on what each individual felt they gained. This system has helped accurately identify which courses are the most successful, and to which job roles, and have also identified interesting trends.
They continue to develop apprenticeship and sponsored degree options, available to all staff members. All students are signed up to their successful buddying scheme, this supports employee development and training and plays a vital part in their mental health initiative.
Their culture of learning improves employee relations and retention and helps them to become more efficient, provide a higher quality service and improve the image of construction.
Walker Construction is currently in year two of a three-year plan to steadily increase turnover via managed growth. They are on track and have managed exceptional results by evaluating prospect work that is better suited to their strengths and workforce, understanding optimum markets and improving project-specific profit margins. As a business, they are focused on the perfect balance between retaining and attaining clients. Client satisfaction has always been a high priority for Walker Construction and retention of clients has kept a full order book throughout their 55 years of business. Over the next three years, they plan to invest in a client acquisition strategy, using a unique marketing and business development plan to maintain competitive advantage.
About the SME of the Year Award:
SMEs are the backbone of the industry and are recognised by Constructing Excellence for their dominance of and contribution to the supply chain. Department for Business Innovation and Skills suggest that 99.9% of UK construction contracting businesses are SMEs and some of the greatest innovation and best practice can be identified in this sector.