Training and Development

It’s only February but we can already see that our new Business Development Strategy is going to be successful in 2022. We have a strong order book and to cope with the increased workload we have added a number of new members of staff.

We’ve taken on new carpenters, a new labourer and in the office, a new accounts assistant. We welcome them all. They will undergo their first Performance Management Reviews in April and no doubt, some Corniche training will follow.

We are continuing to roll out new process maps and the management team has already had their first training session on conflict avoidance. This was delivered by HR as a workshop where we learnt how to deal with things in a different way. But what’s not different this year is our commitment to staff development.

It will maintain and improve our service and help us to build better relationships.

New Year. New challenges.

This year, new Building Regulation changes are coming into force which are centred around thermal efficiency, carbon emissions and increased ventilation. In all there are five new documents uplifting existing legislation.

We will also start to see the impact of the new Building Safety Regulator in Construction affecting High Rise Residential Buildings. And we expect this will devolve down to all building work, new and refurbishment, over the coming years. Having completed our first build under EWS1, we have already seen and had to accommodate the new regs (and it was only a 3-storey building).

There will almost certainly be further challenges ahead this year but as the days begin to grow longer we will face them with increasing optimism.

Humbug!

The year ends pretty much as it started; we are back working under the same rules and safety measures. We are reducing office presence to protect our staff, we have reviewed our site practices and we are working in accordance with current guidance. Even though most of our staff are double vaccinated and some have boosters, we have still had a member of the senior management team contract COVID. The report back is that it’s very unpleasant so cautious planning and preparation remain our focus.

It’s not all Humbug, however. We end the year in a good position with a number of great projects in the pipeline and an order book value of circa £3.5m. To deal with this we have a new Construction Team, overseen by Darren Whenham and headed up by Karl Whyte. (Karl was on a temporary contract and is now permanent.) We hope to see 2 new General Foreman joining us, one being Mike Wilson who will also be our carpentry apprentice mentor. In addition we are currently recruiting a new bricklaying apprentice and a Quantity Surveyor to add to our commercial team. So some good news at the end of a very trying year.

Looking forward to 2022 the matter of most concern is the Building Safety Bill. We have already seen changes in materials and construction methods and expect to see the full effects when this Bill becomes law. Corniche have now introduced various process maps to demonstrate our competence and commitment to this. We signed up to the RICS Conflict Avoidance Pledge some time ago and we have now signed up to the CIOB Diversity and Inclusion Charter because we believe our industry could be fairer and more open for everyone. We are also noticing that tenders have a far greater emphasis on quality rather than price, something we have always advocated.

Finally, we want to wish everyone who has taken the time to read this a very Happy Christmas and prosperous, safe 2022.

Evolution means Change

Over the course of the last year we have undergone various changes at Corniche. We changed our logo, corporate identity and the livery on our fleet of vehicles; launching a new, more dynamic branding that better reflects our business. And there have been a number of changes to our team members, as well.

In April Darren Whenham joined us as our Operations Manager. He has undertaken a business review and put in place new processes and work streams to enable us to operate more efficiently as we manage our growth. We said goodbye to Rachel McHugh and we welcomed Pip Grindley. Pip, previously with Armfield Construction, has a wealth of experience in bid management and preparation and has taken over responsibility for business development.

We said goodbye to Ian Maynard who has gone on to start his own venture and welcomed Gary Richardson who has quickly settled in to the ‘Corniche way’. Karl Whyte has joined us in the capacity of Construction Manager. Bringing extensive experience of Site Management he is currently mentoring our existing Construction Team. Regrettably, we said goodbye to Neil Kelly, who had worked with us since 2005. We really do wish him well.

There have also been changes in staff development, with some great personal achievements and a raft of NVQs. Anna Bataille, already level 4 in Health & Safety, now has a TechIOSH. Kamil Michalowski attained level 4 in Site Management and so too did Scott Walker. Many congratulations to them all.

Everything changes over time and change is inevitable as a business grows and evolves. Managing change is key and we are confident that we’ve successfully recruited excellent new additions including working mentors, managers and operatives to help take us forwards. But one thing won’t change at Corniche, our dedication to quality and standards and our commitment to building relationships.

Working in the ‘New Normal’ world.

Here at Corniche we pride ourselves on our expertise in the Education sector. Our first job in this area was for St Boniface School in 1987 and we have undertaken an extensive array of construction projects for Education clients over the 34 years since then. We have dealt with clients in Surrey, Sussex, London, Kent and all over the SE and in many cases we have been asked back when new projects have come up. We’ve a lot of experience in Education.

Surprisingly, despite the problems imposed by COVID, it seems 2021 will be no exception. Even the late confirmation of Condition Improvement Funding bids has proved of no consequence. With DFE notification delayed until the end of June many of our school clients found a way of self-funding projects and others have put their plans on hold for later in the year. Currently we have some 27 projects on site, not all are Education clients but a fair number are.

Though we are now used to managing sites with COVID restrictions, working in the ‘New Normal’ is problematic. We are under the constant pressure of having to cope with limited resources as the effects of COVID on the industry continue. Most projects are on programme and where slippage has occurred, we are working with our clients to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. And with the continuing trend of price increases in both labour and materials we are having to keep agile and resourceful. The ‘New Normal’ demands that we must be even more detailed with our planing and programmes, to ensure we meet our clients’ expectations.

Keeping ahead of the game

NBS held a virtual seminar this week, ‘The Construction Leaders’ Summit: Building for the Future’ which made me think about where Corniche is, with all that we have had to deal with over the last 18 months. We have made changes within the company, said farewell to some colleagues and prepared for another challenging year.

To help us deal with the challenges 2021 will bring we are welcoming some new faces into the business; people who will equip us better to cover the range of work we have and future proof and enhance our site teams.

We are pleased to announce that Darren Whenham is joining us as Operations Manager, bringing with him a wealth of experience. Having started out as a bricklayer he worked his way up to become a National Contracts Manager for PRMF. We look forward to his contribution to our growth strategy in support of the business.  

Those following Corniche on Facebook will have seen the mix of interesting projects we have continued to work on over the Winter and Spring. The full restoration that we have undertaken of Our Lady of the Assumption at Egham, is just reaching completion. Now we are busy with a three story residential development (the crane is now on site) and another demanding but rewarding project in the commercial sector; a substantial D&B fit out of a property in Borough Market.

As the third lock-down restrictions are lifted we expect to see more changes in the industry with anticipated material shortages and the global effects on prices caused by the pandemic. Factor into this the impact of the UK leaving the EU and the challenges keep coming. However we remain positive. Corniche will continue to stay agile, work hard and try to keep ahead of the game.

Another Year, Another Relationship

Our last news item was in January 2020 and it is clear that when it was posted we had no idea of what was to come. It turned out to be an awful year, but we managed to continue to work through the Pandemic by keeping ahead of the curve; watching, reading and putting measures in place to protect our staff and supply chain.

It wasn’t easy, but amazingly, the result was an increase in turnover thanks to projects like the Borough Market Jubilee Place development, the church hall at Holy Innocence Church, Orpington, the new Science Block at The Weald Of Kent Grammar School and the OPD pre-opp assessment unit at Kingston Hospital.

We witnessed some considerable changes over the past year at Corniche, too. Our Operations Director has moved on and we wish him well and thank him for his contribution. Although he was only with us a short time we made considerable progress in his tenure. The business now has a greater focus on H&S, we are spending more on training and we are more active in promotion from within, helping to expand and strengthen the management team.

So what’s next? We have a very healthy order book for 2021, some new clients onboard, various new work streams and three new employees. Best of all our work at Kingston Hospital which started as a single project has developed into an on-going series of projects. And we have built another relationship!

2020 vision

At about this time, each year, I start to think about what we can expect in the coming months. This year I am expecting our business to grow based on the current workload and the projects we have lined up. But with regard to the bigger picture I expect the environment will become an even more important consideration for the construction industry in 2020.

Looking back over the past few years, building regulations have been increasingly reflecting a concern for the environment and placing more responsibility on building design and construction. Architectural innovation in new build is now being driven by the need to maximise energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions. And in the construction industry we are striving to reduce the environmental impact of our activities and find more sustainable methods and materials.

As a company we are committed to continuous improvements in how we manage our operation with regard to sustainability and the prevention of pollution. All Corniche staff are trained in our Environmental Management System, which for example, seeks to reduce waste and recycle materials wherever possible. In 2020 we hope our business will grow but we will make sure that it is not at the expense of the environment.

We’ve made another friend

A key element in the way that we manage our business at Corniche is to finish a job to the complete satisfaction of the client. Anyone who has worked in the industry will know that things can go wrong. But we believe that one of our greatest strengths is overcoming any problems and getting the job done right.

We have just completed part of a redevelopment project at Jubilee Place for the Trustees of Borough Market in Southwark and it has not been easy, either in terms of logistics or scheduling, in a busy urban environment.

We are proud of the finished build but equally satisfying is the recognition that we did a good job so it was great to receive this message from Stephen Wall, Head of Asset Management at Borough Market:

“Hi All, as you know BMK has opened, which is all down to your hard work and as a way of saying thank you I would like to invite you for lunch in Jubilee Place. Really appreciate your hard work.”

We hope this is the start of another great relationship.