Complete Utilities: Keeping us connected – 90 million times over
PUBLISHED: 16:47 18 June 2018
From 60 staff to a team of 320, Complete Utilities is going places. Frank Tennyson meets the man who makes it happen
In September 2017, Gloucester firm Complete Utilities made headlines when it won a £90 million Fastershire contract. This was to connect almost 70,000 properties across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire to Gigaclear’s ultrafast full fibre broadband network.
At the time, Complete Utilities’ innovative approach to its operations was cited as a reason for the win. As the company gears up for this Phase 2 implementation of the high-speed roll-out, Senior Operations Manager Gareth Yardley believes it is an exciting time for everyone connected to the project.
“We finished Phase 1 of the Fastershire scheme in the Cotswolds 12 months ago. Now we have the rest of rural Gloucestershire and Herefordshire to build by the end date of 2020,” says.
“Telecoms is booming at the moment, particularly around fibre roll-out. Huge things are trying to be achieved and it has to be done in a different way. There is a limit to the amount of labour resource in the country so traditional methods are not going to deliver it in the timeframe set. That’s where we come in.”
Gareth started at Complete Utilities six years ago when the staff count was 60. Today that number is in excess of 320 people, a reflection on the growth the company has enjoyed in recent times.
“In the last three years alone we’ve doubled in terms of near enough everything – staff, size of our depot, turnover, and it’s been achieved in quite a short space of time.
“But while we’ve grown, everyone is very keen to retain the attitudes and values we had when we were a small team. We did the hours that the company wanted and needed – we worked incredibly hard. And those people with that mindset and work ethic now form the backbone of the company today.”
Gareth belies that the company’s “can-do, let’s find a solution” mentality comes from the fact that very many staff are young and deeply committed to the organisation they belong to.
He explains: “Over the years we have built quite a young team. I myself as a senior manager am only 30. My right-hand man, who is in charge of the biggest contract we have, is 29. Perhaps with this youth comes lots of innovation and ideas.
“We are very much a team. We don’t shout down any voices, no matter how junior. That’s how we improve by canvassing and liaising with our staff. Our managing director has made a conscious decision to cultivate that and to also to bring in some new exciting young people from outside to industry to introduce new ideas.
“We all show a commitment to the business and it’s important to show an example. If the team sees myself working on a tender at 9 o’clock at night, it sends a message that sometimes it is all hands to the pump. It’s caring about the work, ultimately.”
With projects including flood alleviation in Moreton-in-Marsh, water works in Winchcombe town centre and also at Gloucester Cathedral, Complete Utilities’ less invasive technology allowed successful completion of each.
The Gloucester works, in particular, were an immense challenge. It was a highly sensitive area because of its archaeological significance, and obviously experienced high levels of tourism. Thankfully, the team were able to install 90% of new water mains using trenchless technology.
“We pride ourselves on innovation. The utilities industry is one that probably hasn’t moved as fast far forward in three or four decades as it might have.
“So we are always trying new techniques, trying to put apparatus into the ground without disturbing it as much as is humanly possible,” says Gareth.
“This is helpful when looking at costs (if we can get our costs down we can pass these on to our customers). And also in this social media age, more and more people have a voice – and will certainly voice their displeasure if road works, traffic lights and everything else that comes with what we do, invade their lives too much
“Gloucester Cathedral came with some problems but we specialise in finding solutions. The cathedral project ended up quite lucrative because not everyone can approach something like that like we do.”
Complete Utilities’ mantra is “Work Better, Work Together” and Gareth believes this is more than just a snappy slogan. It’s a collaborative theme that runs throughout the business. In addition, what he calls “complete buy-in” from the team, continues to serve the company well through this period of expansion.
“The approach we have is almost like the company’s money is like our own, so we don’t want to waste it. We take it personally. It annoys us to do remedial work, it annoys us if there is an overrun fine from the council. That diligence and ownership from everyone here, I think, sets us apart.”
For more information, visit the Complete Utilities website.