Mick George build-out is packed with new ideas
It’s a phenomenal Cambridgeshire success story – but what can Mick George Ltd do next? Jon Stump, finance director at the construction services firm, talks about its new e-commerce platform, telecoms service – and on-site drones.
Mick George Ltd has been diversifying and, like everything the construction services firm sets out to do, the build-out is proving highly successful.
The expansion is partly geographical, as finance director Jon Stump explains at the business’s Huntingdon premises, but also in terms of new services and products.
“This is the office headquarters,” he says. “We’ve been here two years and there are 200 staff based here; otherwise there are 24 other sites located between East Anglia and the East Midlands.
“There are also elements in north London, plus we’ve just finished a job in Scotland and another in Manchester, Cornwall… we have the ability to travel.”
Closer to home, Mick George Ltd has been extensively involved in the CB1 development plus projects at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Papworth Trust and GSK. Inward investment is ongoing: its £3.5m St Ives recycling plant opened last year allows firms to recycle waste rather than send it to landfill – it costs £86.10 per tonne to send waste to landfill, so it’s a popular service. Like everything the firm does, the work is methodical.
“To sort it is quite a manual process. There’s lots of conveyors, the waste is loaded in and sifted, it’s hand-picked, blown, a magnet picks the metals up and drops it in a bin… Some commodities do have a value, and we provide waste to power stations to produce electricity.”
Most clients – 95 per cent of its turnover are corporates – use the firm’s facilities management options: waste management, building/grounds maintenance, electrical/plumbing installations and asbestos stripping. But the availability of choices for consumers is expanding.
“Turnover is around £130m a year,” Stump says. “It’s continuing to climb. We’re staying private but continuing to diversify, so we have an e-commerce platform now, which is basically an online shop for consumers predominantly.
“Our core services are on there plus electrical goods, tools, home and garden products, an installation service, and we supply and fit a vehicle charging service.”
The vehicle charging service includes the purchase and installation of an electric charge point for domestic or commercial use, to charge up electric/hybrid cars. Mick George adopts new technology into its services very readily: indeed, the firm now has its own drones.
“Drone technology means we can create videos ourselves,” Stump says. The firm has produced some incredible examples of demolition work, and building work, taken via the aerial photographic platform – check “Mick George Demolition Steel Tower” on YouTube.
“We use drones for site surveys. We’ve got a couple here. We also use them on-site for stock takes, which saves the surveyor having to take the kit out – now you can just drone it.”
A telecoms service has also been added to its portfolio.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is diversify the business,” says Stump. “Our core business will always remain and continue to grow, and we’re also adding value via new opportunities, so for instance the e-commerce platform provides the consumer with a viable alternative. The same with telecoms – we’ve amassed a lot of knowledge and now we can provide the right solution.
“Basically ISDN is being phased out in 2025 so we’re helping our customers move over to a digital platform. We’re offering solutions that are fit for purpose and at a competitive price point. Hosted solutions is the way forward after 2025.”
Mick George opened for business in 1978 with a single tipper truck and now has 400 HGVs along with landfill sites, waste transfer stations, quarries and an astonishing range of construction services.
It has enjoyed good fortune and is well known for giving back. “We do lots of charity work, and give between £800,000 and £1m a year,” says Stump. “The key objective is to have the maximum impact on the community, and not just in one area but the whole area.”
Getting involved has always been the name of the game, and this philosophy extends to its sponsorship of both Cambridge United and Peterborough United. “It’s not just football, there’s rugby, hockey, cricket… you name it, we’re involved.”
Stump is always on the lookout for new opportunities – and staff. Young people are encouraged to apply for roles, not least via apprentice schemes underpinned by the Apprenticeship Levy, introduced in April. “We’ve got a graphic designer, IT staff and transport apprentices now.”
Mick George, it would seem, is full of ideas – but there’s always room for more, which is why in May the firm launched its Ideas Factory.
“We’ve set up a business start-up scheme, so if you’ve got a great idea you want to do, come and talk to us. If we can help or partner you we will – it might just be marketing.”
If you’re an entrepreneur you’ll also be interested. “Two telecoms guys approached us with a very rough business plan and I sat down with them and helped them get it off the ground. The Mick George brand means they get open doors rather than closed doors – we can help in terms of infrastructure, legal advice, commercial input or customer service.”
The Ideas Factory has been set up for anyone with a new product or service they would like help with developing. At Mick George Ltd they know all about development: everything about the firm is consummately well built, right down to the branded coasters in the meeting room.
“It’s been a journey and the journey’s still going,” says Stump, an accountant by trade who joined the firm in 2003.
“We’re two rungs up the ladder but there’s a way to go: Mick George and I are very passionate but also very ambitious, not just in financial terms but also – and hopefully it doesn’t sound crass – in terms of a legacy we’re building.”
The next project is “an insurance product we’re partnering with a reputable East Anglian broker – again, we’ve learned our lessons over the years and can provide a service fit for purpose”.
The legacy, one suspects, will also be fit for purpose – and very well built.
• Interview in association with Grant Thornton’s Vibrant Economy initiative