Revisiting NW Construction Awards: Contractor of the Year

Place continues its series looking at winners from last year's North West Regional Construction Awards in the build-up to the 2011 ceremony on Thursday. Here we look at the Contractor of the Year winner, Willmott Dixon Construction.

The award recognises contractors in the region that are pushing the boundaries of the Rethinking Construction agenda.

Willmott Dixon was founded in 1852 and is now one of the UK's largest privately-owned construction companies.

The firm carries out projects across the health, education, leisure, commercial, retail and transport sectors in England and Wales and has a turnover of £685m. Willmott Dixon has headquarters in Manchester.

The company counts Sir Michael Latham and Jonathan Porritt among its advisors, outlining its commitment to sustainable development and helping the firm win a place in the Sunday Times' lists of best green companies and Top 100 companies.

Willmott Dixon was deemed to be the North West Contractor of the Year because of the priority it has placed on reducing emissions and minimising energy use in its operations: the company aims to be carbon neutral and achieve zero waste to landfill by 2012. Carbon emissions relative to turnover were down by 22% in 2010 compared to the previous year.

Sustainable construction is at the forefront for the firm. It has developed an annual sustainable development review that sets social, environmental and economic sustainability goals. Willmott Dixon also collaborates with the Building Research Establishment, Action Sustainability, Business in the Community, the Energy Saving Trust, the Waste & Resources Action Programme, the UK Green Building Council and the North West construction knowledge hub at Centre for Construction Innovation.

Clients awarded Willmott Dixon ten out of ten on five sites for its positive impact on biodiversity and the company achieved 72% diversion from landfill for all waste leaving its sites in 2009.

The firm's average overall client satisfaction score is 88% and 96% of its business is through long-term relationships and framework agreements.

The judges also took into account the company's commitment to its employees, training and community involvement.

A recent staff survey returned a satisfaction score of 82.5% and the firm provides 2,000 local jobs on its sites every month.

The company has continued to invest in key roles, recruiting 182 new staff and spending £1m on training in 2009. Each employee gets an average of four and a half days training, significantly above the industry average of two days.

In 2009, the number of recruits to its management trainee scheme rose to 104, from 52 in 2007. During 2009, 33 staff took part in a construction ambassador scheme, visiting schools, colleges and career events.

Despite the recession, the firm recruited 37 trainees and opened a new in-house training facility, hosting 122 training days with 923 delegates attending courses.

Its annual survey for senior managers saw commitment to staff development rise from 82% to 90%.

Willmott Dixon listens to key stakeholders for input into project design. It also carries out community consultation events and 'meet the buyer' days for local subcontractors and suppliers.

The firm built St Agnes Primary School for Manchester City Council, which was constructed using the Eurban solid timber panel system that uses timber, certified by the Forrest Stewardship Council, and locks in 2,290 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The school will remain carbon positive up to five years into its life. The timber frame also reduces waste, construction time and cost.

The Willmott Dixon community healthcare campus, developed with the Building Research Establishment and Primary Asset, provides an insight into the future of primary care, showcasing cutting-edge healthcare technologies including remote monitoring of patients in their homes, self-diagnosis equipment and robotic pharmacy dispensing.

The award for North West Contractor of the Year was given to Willmott Dixon for its continued implementation of Rethinking Construction principles and its obvious desire to be sustainable, environmentally, socially and economically.

Rethinking Construction was initiated by a report of the Construction Task Force chaired by Sir John Egan in 1998.

 North West Regional Construction Awards 2011The black-tie awards ceremony and dinner will take place on Thursday 26 May 2011 at Chester Racecourse. Key sponsors include Willmott Dixon Construction, Place North West, Hill Dickinson and BRE.

Limited tickets are still available and if you are interested in attending please visit the website or contact Caroline Ellison on or on 0161 448 2424.

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