Hawkins’ VR view of the future

Mike Hawkins, managing director of the Hawkins Group of Companies, talks about how he’s taking the Thames Valley Business Magazine Award’s Dynamic Business of the Year into new growth dimensions, writes Tim Wickham.

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Mike Hawkins

Hawkins Group of Companies is a Banbury-based construction group specialising in commercial and industrial roofing, bespoke mild and stainless steel fabrication and construction project management services across the Thames Valley and nationally.

The financial performance and growth of the Group has consistently been very impressive and can be directly linked back to the Group’s leadership, specific business plans and long-term objectives. With the annual turnover reaching £30 million in 2019, up from £18m in 2018, Hawkins continues to out-perform many in the tough construction sector. They also forecast that turnover will top £40m in 2020.

A key factor to Hawkins Group of Companies success is client retention, with repeat business from existing clients running at over 90%. They work tirelessly to understand their client’s ever-changing needs and are innovative with their approach to ensure their range of services exceed those needs and enhance their client’s experience.

Mike Hawkins also recognises that much of his group’s success is down to the dedication and commitment of his 90+-strong team. “We look for the best people who will allow us to do great things. We have loyal workforce, with many of our employees participating in Hawkins long service award programme. The biggest thing for me is knowing that greatness is not achieved alone, but by the spirit of a team, working together and for each other” he said.

The Group continues to invest in its people and has conducted over 2,000 hours of training, covering not only regulatory requirements but also personal development plans identified through its appraisal process.

Its full-time employed continuous improvement officer works with all individuals within the Group, reviewing organisational processes and systems to make the company as efficient as possible.       

“Staff engagement is absolutely fundamental, so everyone can contribute to a positive atmosphere. Employee forums enable us to agree the actions and processes we need to deliver excellent outcomes for our customers,” he said.

Innovation

One such area that will add value to Hawkins’ already impressive proposition, is the usage of virtual reality technology.

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Branded the ‘Hawk Walk’, Hawkins Group will invite clients to visit its impressive offices in Banbury where they will enter their new VR room; from that point clients will be able to experience first-hand what their new build or refurbishment project will look like and will be able to walk around the whole facility, they will also be able to make any changes as they go.

“As a Group we are really excited about this technology and the benefits that our clients will gain from using the system; this will be an area that we will continue to grow, develop and invest in for the foreseeable future,” commented Mike Hawkins.

Hawkins has also recently invested significantly in 2019 in an automated drilling line at its steel fabrication facility, that operates from its Banbury head office. This investment will bring greater efficiencies within the fabrication and manufacturing processes and is another example of Hawkins’ continuous improvement programme and commitment to invest back into the organisation.

Taking on tough challenges

The group isn’t afraid to take on challenging projects that others may avoid. “We say ‘yes’ to jobs when everyone else says ‘no’,” said Hawkins. “We like tough challenges because they bring the greatest rewards – not just monetary, but also a sense of achievement and pride.”

He believes the construction industry is showing signs of a slowdown in 2020, although greater clarity about Brexit following December’s general election result may boost optimism in the sector. “We’re pretty upbeat, with an £11m order book and potential orders worth £35m,” said Hawkins.

Recent accolades

As well as winning Dynamic Company of the Year at the TVBMAs, other highlights for the group in 2019 include the completion of a number of prestigious projects.

The Group has recently handed over one of the UK’s largest laundry facility in a £10m contract in Dartford and fabricated and installed a new wind tunnel collaboratively built, within the Boardman Performance Centre in Evesham, that provides riders with real-time data as they pedal.

“When you’re measuring cycling performances in micro millimetres the tolerance levels in the steel construction were significant,” said Hawkins. “This was a highly challenging job for us, and we think the end result is incredible.”

In conclusion

While growth to date has been organic, Mike Hawkins doesn’t rule out acquisitions by the Banbury-based construction group, However, the Group’s financial strength is of paramount importance and for the business to stay in family ownership. “We are in a fantastic position as a business and we’re really excited for see what the future holds… the opportunities are endless.’’

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