WD Stant Ltd is a long established general building company based in the Wrexham area since 1962. The company provides a wide range of building services from new build and building maintenance, to refurbishment and joinery, specialising in custom-designed joinery solutions.
The business experienced steady growth until 2004 / 2005, when the housing boom instigated a sudden rapid expansion, caused by industry demand for affordable timber-framed housing. With their feet firmly
under the Social Housing table, the organisation grew to employ over 80 site operatives and 15 office staff, keeping up with the demand from the local authorities and Social Housing partnerships.
In 2008 with funding for social housing drying up and priorities changing at local government level, the organisation found itself in a state of flux with a relatively limited supply chain; resulting in an equally rapid downsizing and restructuring; providing the ideal opportunity to create more diversification in their contracts and business opportunities.
Learning from previous experiences, WD Stant Ltd has now regained previous momentum, introduced new income streams and new partners and is now employing around 80 full time staff based from their premises in Wrexham. Having weathered extreme financial storms as a result of external factors, the business feels ready to turn its attention inwards and look at ways to improve internal processes and maintain commercial viability.
In 2016, WD Stant Ltd found themselves getting to grips with new electronic tendering systems and under greater pressure than ever to conform to the latest regulations. Whilst they had always invested in company accreditation and quality standards and had ISO 9001 and CHAS, some of these standards were now being superseded and the business needed to re-invest in the most up-to-date versions, or face being ruled out of public sector procurement opportunities altogether.
Recognising this potential threat to the business - Charles Samway, the business’ Health & Safety Manager and Quality / Compliance leader, contacted his local Welsh Government Business Development Advisor (Dai Roberts) for advice and was referred to Construction Futures Wales for specialist support. After an initial meeting to discuss the organisation’s requirements and to complete the Company Health Check, WD Stant Ltd was offered fully subsidised support to help review their Quality Management systems and develop a strategy for moving the business forward.
Construction Futures Wales Consultant John Humphreys conducted the Company Health Check and made a number of important observations:
“The existing business strategy declaration is aged, however there is a desire on behalf of the business to grow and flourish so structure needs to be put around this. While, the importance of controlled growth is well understood and the direction of the company clear, development of a business strategy to support these goals would undoubtedly produce benefits. This in turn would also contribute to enhancing its existing good reputation by demonstrating to customers the capability and capacity for delivery by a local company”.
The first step towards achieving this goal was a review of the business’ existing QMS and development strategy and to identify areas for upgrade in order to achieve the latest version of ISO9001:2015, in line with the requirements of their key customers.
This step-by-step process included:
- an in-depth analysis of the business’ existing policies, processes, procedure and forms
- recommendations for changes or expansion listed
- discussions with the business and a two-way review process to identify best practice
- new versions drafted and reviewed, and
- replacement of the old systems with the new, updated versions
Much of this work was able to be carried out remotely, reducing the pressure on the business and maximising the resources made available by Construction Futures Wales. The final draft of the new Business Management system has been circulated throughout the company for final sign off, including the new ISO9001:2015.
WD Stant Ltd are now in a position to fully implement their new systems, Charles Samway feels the process has had an extremely positive impact on the business:
“I really appreciated Construction Futures Wales’ innovative and practical approach to our requirements. The consultant broke the changes down into bite-sized pieces making it easy for us to see what we needed to do and make the changes as and where they came up in the process.”
One of the biggest challenges any business can face is that of employee engagement – particularly when it comes to process management and quality.
“We were keen to use this process as a way of instigating a culture change within the organisation – Health and Safety, Quality Management – these are not glamorous subjects and one of the main challenges we faced is a general lack of interest and awareness within the business of what Quality Standards ‘do’ and why continuous improvement is so important in driving us forward.”
“Construction Futures Wales were very supportive and quick to answer any questions we had. We were able to re-write our Quality Manual in a more vibrant and engaging way, making it more accessible to the team and more useful as a business tool.”
Based upon their portfolio, WD Stant Ltd still relies heavily on their ability to win public tenders, with 90% of new business coming from Public Sector contracts. Having recognised the importance of continuous improvement and re-invested in the latest Quality Standards, WD Stant Ltd have not only kept themselves in the playing field for public sector procurement, but also increased their productivity and improved their practices – giving them an edge over their competitors and a re-invigorated workforce.
WD Stant Ltd is keen to develop new talent and provide training and has recently launched a new apprenticeship scheme, now employing 10 new recruits from the local community. For Charles, this is clearly the best part of the job.
"The apprenticeships are really rewarding and it’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm with which these trainees come into the business and take up new challenges. We do as much as we can for the local community and get a real sense of pride from employing local people."
By reviewing their QMS and internal business practices WD Stant Ltd now have an inclusive process for continuous improvement and staff have taken ownership of the manual, shaping it through good practice and development. Those who were previously disengaged with QMS / CI process are now developing new practices and suggesting changes and improvements themselves.
Reflecting upon the support, Charles is very positive about the changes and appreciative of the support offered by CITB Wales, The Welsh Government and Construction Futures Wales.
“Now we have the new quality procedures in place, people in all parts of the company are realising the opportunity and the advantage this gives us. We are all looking forward to seeing the results in a years’ time. We really value the support we have received and what it has enabled us to put in place.”
WD Stant hope to expand further in 2017 and keep improving the way they do business, sticking to their core values and services and looking at new ways to save costs and streamline processes.