Q&A – Steve Kirkland, J Tomlinson

Steve Kirkland

Growing construction services company J Tomlinson has recently completed a refurbishment at its headquarters in Beeston near Nottingham. We caught up with Steve Kirkland, managing director repairs and maintenance and facilities management, who told us more about the recent goings on at the firm.

Tell us a little bit about the history of the firm

J Tomlinson was founded in Beeston, Nottingham, in the 1950s by the Tomlinson family as an electrical contracting business focused on commercial contracts. The company grew and evolved, and by the 1980s it had become a substantial regional mechanical and electrical contractor as a result of organic growth and the acquisition of a local mechanical company. It developed further in the 1990s to provide a complete range of building solutions and services, and is now a major operator in the construction services sector.

You’ve recently refurbished your head office. What motivated you to do so?

The company has been based at Lilac Grove since the 1950s and we opted to refurbish and improve our headquarters as an investment in our head office and our teams. The measures make the building more efficient and a more pleasant place to work in, and include a new reception area, new windows and wrap-around cladding to the front façade, a new kitchen and break-out area for staff, refurbished offices and meeting rooms, and new energy efficient LED lighting, as well as new air conditioning. The work has been completed by our own commercial refurbishment division.

Will the refurb allow you to grow in new ways?

Our people are our greatest asset. We aspire to be a company that people want to work for, with happy, productive and motivated employees. The refurbishment has created a nicer work environment for our staff, which will help us to retain and employ the best teams – key to helping us to continue to offer and provide great service to our clients, which in turn is crucial to our on-going development as a company. The refurb also showcases our commercial refurbishment expertise, which we undertake for private and public organisations mainly across the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire.

What recent projects have you undertaken in the region?

We are currently working on more than £1 million worth of regeneration projects for Nottingham City Homes and delivering £1 million worth of M&E work to the new Nottingham Enterprise Zone. We are also part-way through a £30 million improvement programme for Ashfield Homes. Last year we built the new London Road Fire Station in Nottingham, and we have just begun working on some light industrial units in Cotgrave. We are also currently involved in building a new £4.3 million training hub for Volvo Car UK in Daventry and are just completing a £5.1 million project to build a new visitor centre and factory extension for Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

How do you plan to grow the business moving forward?

J Tomlinson has grown steadily and sustainably over recent years, and one of the keys to this growth has been a focus on offering an integrated solutions approach to customers for their projects – providing them with expertise from across our divisions. We offer a broad portfolio, with services in construction, refurbishment, mechanical and electrical services, facilities management and social housing repairs, maintenance and regeneration, and increasingly we have provided expertise from across these divisions on schemes. We believe this is at the root of our success and we will continue with this approach, as well as investing in and building our teams across the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire.

How big a problem are skills shortages in your sector?

It’s well documented that generally there are skills shortages in the construction sector, particularly for electricians, commercial gas engineers and plumbers. As a company, J Tomlinson is committed to investing in apprentices and trainees across a range of disciplines to help mitigate the shortage. We currently have several apprentices undertaking work-based and college-based learning and training, plus many employees who have been appointed on permanent contracts after successfully completing their apprenticeships schemes.

Will Brexit affect the business?

Only time will tell how Brexit will affect our business and the construction services sector as a whole. The main concern currently is that the process will take two years, and while that happens we may have a lot of uncertainty. When you have uncertainty, confidence to spend money dips so we may have a downturn in construction and commercial refurbishment works. There could also be an impact on social housing. However, with the diversity of the company there may be some swings and roundabouts.