Located in the North East is a company that has slowly, but steadily, been building a very firm footing in the world of landscaping and sports facility contracting. For over thirty years, Cleveland Land Services (CLS), has worked tirelessly to establish itself as a formidable force in a very competitive market.
Now, in 2010, it is reaching for the next step and preparing to stand up and be taken seriously as a real contender for large scale construction and maintenance contracts.
February saw the delivery of both a Mastenbroek 1012D heavy-duty drainage trencher and a self propelled "Laser Grader". The decision to invest in these impressive technical machines is a reflection of the confidence CLS now has in its abilities and its team.
Founded in1968, CLS has since expanded its operations to include landscape, civil engineering, drainage, sports feasibilities, construction and maintenance works, becoming a limited company in 1978. The company employs 68 full time staff and has a turnover in excess of £7.5m per annum. It operates on a site covering 83 acres and is currently expanding its administration facilities with the building of new offices.
CLS utilises a diverse range of construction, horticultural and specialised plant and equipment. John Miller, Managing Director, is very proud of the direction the company is going in and the way they have been able to respond to changes in market and economic demands. "We have an excellent committed and motivated work force, with consistently expanding skills, due to a continuous training programme. Our goal is not to treat our work as a numbers game, but to deliver quality work every time, always go that extra mile to ensure our reputation for high standards is at the front of every potential customer's mind. Recommendations, repeat work from existing customers, these are the prizes which determine our success."
"Originally, we concentrated on landscape contracts which, more often than not, comprised a mixture of hard and soft elements to achieve the landscape architect's wishes. This may include elements, such as site clearance, macadam surfacing, block paving, hard standing, drainage, play equipment installation, planting, water features and arboricultural work. We have the in-house expertise and technology to carry out comprehensive site surveys, and to provide a complete 'design and build' for each individual project" John enthused. "Now we have established a reputation for handling large scale sports facility construction, drainage and maintenance projects across the UK."
"Our aim is to provide as comprehensive a service as possible. To ensure continuity during the construction and establishment of sportsfields, we have invested in the most up-to-date drainage equipment, with a further three AFT trenchers purchased this year to complement our existing whizz wheels and chain trenchers, Sheltons gravel banders, hoppers and carts, enabling us to carry out both primary and secondary drainage works. We provide all the materials and plant required to do each task with experienced operators."
2009 has been a challenging year for CLS. The national growth in synthetic sports field construction, an area in which CLS specialises, had slowed since 2008. So, although in the past the company has been at ease and comfortable, offering a total package from design through to construction, with or without the inclusion of maintenance to both 'all weather' facilities and amenity sports areas, there has been no room for complacency.
John explained "With the usual synthetic turf work not being as forthcoming from private customers, and the available projects increasingly diversifying away from Local Authorities, we have targeted other areas to develop. This has presented us with significant opportunities to work with the 'blue chip' multi-skilled companies such as Morgan Ashurst, Wilmot Dixon, Kier Northern, Laing O'Rourke, Carillion, Balfour Beatty, and BAM Construction. We have effortlessly expanded into the area of Civil Engineering which, very often, incorporates many elements of the services we can offer, such as road, car park and footpath construction, bulk earthworks, highway crossings, asphalt base wearing course including specialised finishes."
"An interesting development of potential work that is both worthwhile, and one that we as a company would like to champion, is the 'Building Schools for the Future' programmes. We have obtained a significant amount of work from renovating existing sports facilities, or replacing with new, and take a keen interest in the ethos behind the Government's push to encourage and redevelop sports facilities within the education system."
"This has a positive effect, not just on the stimulation of large scale construction and renovation projects but, ultimately, on the present and future generations of students and the wider community which benefit from the state of the art sports facilities available to them."
In order to promote the services and skills CLS have to offer, February 2010 saw CLS exhibiting at the BSEC (Building Schools Exhibition and Conference) at Excel in London on the 24th and 25th.
To comment on, or influence, the way an industry operates or is perceived, it is essential that you take an active role in the organisations set up to assist or monitor it. For this reason, CLS is not only a member of the major trade organisations, including SAPCA, CECA, BALI and the LDCA, but Contracts Manager, Andrew Earnshaw, is a representative for SAPCA and Stephen Miller, Projects Manager, is a representative for the LDCA.
CLS also have many accreditations: ISO 9001- 2008, Construction Line Registered, CHAS Accredited, Members of the Considerate Contractors Scheme and Investors in People.
The biggest change for CLS in the past two years has been the radical overhaul of the plant hire operation to provide a comprehensive range of plant and equipment, available on either a self drive basis or with an operator. A large range of machines has been expanded to include excavators, LGP dump trucks, LGP dozers c/w laser over-ride tractors from 20-250hp, decompaction equipment, sand-banders and Dakota sand spreaders and general horticultural machinery. This has been coupled with the completion of new workshops and showroom facilities, and the present construction of new offices.
John is adamant that the experience accumulated over the years has provided them with a formidable reputation for delivering an exceptionally high quality service. "We endeavour to keep at the forefront of changes in techniques and legislation, particularly in the construction side of the business which implements stringent regulation. All associated project health and safety plans, including method statements and risk assessments, are compiled in-house and have proven to satisfy the most stringent of client requirements."
The future for CLS lies in responding to market forces in a positive and productive way. After a year of evaluating the economic climate and holding back on further expansion plans, it is now full steam ahead. The Mastenbroek and the "Laser Grader" are tangible, solid, physical indicators of strength, confidence and power. How better to describe a company that is no longer content to hide its light under the proverbial bushel!
Building Schools for the Future
The Government sees BSF as important to improving educational attainment, and the life chances available to children, by providing educational, recreational and social environments that support modern teaching and learning methods. It wants buildings to be shared and used by local communities, and to be flexible in responding to developing needs. It also wants BSF to support local reorganisation of secondary schools to reflect demographic needs and a greater diversity of provision, including academies and specialist schools.
1. Targeting funding to groups of schools to allow Local Authorities to plan strategically for the provision of school places and other facilities, and for the delivery of children's services, on an area wide basis;
2. Long-term partnering efficiencies between the public and private sectors, usually through the establishment of local joint ventures called Local Education Partnerships (LEPs), which have exclusive rights for 10 years to deliver new and refurbished school facilities and related services; and
3. Central programme management, coordination and support for local strategic decision making and school building and refurbishment projects.
The Department provided £3.6 billion of capital funding up to March 2008 (£2.3 billion under signed PFI contracts and £1.3 billion under conventional funding). It has allocated another £7.5 billion up to March 2011, and plans to provide further funding after that. BSF accounted for 22 per cent of England's expenditure on school buildings in 2007-08. BSF has not been included in the Government's acceleration of education capital funding to act as a fiscal stimulus.