As the UK’s No. 1 specialist distributor of insulation products to the construction industry, Sheffield Insulation forms part of SIG Insulations, a division of the international SIG group. It’s a thriving business underpinned by solid relationships, a strong proposition and a growing customer base.
The company knows only too well the challenges associated with recruiting a flexible labour force to support its business and take account of the peaks and troughs in supply and demand…
The Barking branch of Sheffield Insulation, which is in North East London, has a team of 70 staff and employs high calibre management alongside skilled operatives in warehouse roles, logistics and forklift operators, as well as a team of drivers, trained to handle specialist equipment onboard a range of vehicles, including its fleet of 21 lorries.
Despite the construction industry’s well documented slump during the recession, Sheffield Insulation has emerged unscathed and cites strong partnerships with suppliers and staff as having been pivotal to its success. One of those key suppliers is driving and industrial personnel recruitment specialist, Extrastaff, which offers a ‘no fuss’ 24-hour staffing solution.
Extrastaff currently supplies four temporary drivers and two temporary forklift operators and in the past year the volume of business has risen by 12% with four of the workers being taken on full time. Sheffield Insulation is proud to have not made any redundancies during the last few years and puts this down partly to the flexible, high calibre staff who have been employed on short term contracts.
In 2005 Extrastaff was asked to provide heavy goods vehicle drivers with multi-drop experience who had a good knowledge of East London and Essex but nearly six years on, things have significantly evolved.
With Extrastaff’s reputation for attracting high calibre candidates, the recruiter was able to supply staff for a variety of roles including warehouse work, fork lift, HIAB and Moffett drivers as well as those qualified to drive Class 1 & 2 and 7.5 tonne lorries.
“Extrastaff understands our business, it’s as simple as that,” says Robin Standbridge, Operation Manager of Sheffield Insulations.
“A day where one of our vehicles is left on the forecourt, due to a staffing shortage, is a day we are not making money. Whilst, cost of labour is important, it’s about ensuring value and time and again we can trust our recruitment partner to deliver what is needed, no matter how short notice.”
Making the Grade
For the client, it is vital that all the necessary employment checks are done before a new worker starts. For example – it makes sure that all drivers have held their licence for a minimum of a two year period and have ongoing DVLA checks as well as full tachograph knowledge, and can demonstrate a full work history.
“There has not been one occasion where we have been sent someone who has not had all the appropriate checks and training,” adds Robin. “and if we have ever been sent an individual who did not make the grade, one call to Ash or Sue and the situation is managed with someone being sent over straight away.”
Extrastaff rely on the Sheffield team to be open about their requirements. For example, advances in technology have presented challenges with many drivers now relying on sat nav to navigate the roads – the client prefers all drivers to have good road knowledge and be able to use maps. As Danielle Wilson, Sales Director for Extrastaff maintains: “We hear all too often of cases where a driver has relied on a sat nav and ended up in a ludicrous or dangerous situation. We believe it’s really important to ensure that a driver is briefed on routes and has done their homework before an assignment commences.”
A major challenge for the agency is keeping a pool of drivers who specialise in Moffett and HIAB. This is a common problem across the industry, but with 10 other branches the agency is able to maximise on shared resources and pull in staff from other areas.
Round the Clock Service
The provision of personnel at short notice is a key strength. As Robin Standbridge says, “We are given a service that offers a ‘one call’ 24-hour staffing solution. Outside office hours the phone line diverts to someone at the branch not an anonymous call centre. This means whatever the shortfall, one call guarantees a temporary worker will be on route by the time I arrive at my desk, proving Extrastaff’s commitment to innovation and ability to listen to the clients needs.”
Extrastaff Sales Director, Danielle Wilson, says: “We do everything we can to understand the clients business which ensures we deliver a premium service based on quality. Our consultants are trained to understand the industry, and if we don’t know something we make it our business to find out. We also look after our own staff, and have one of the lowest staff turnover figures in the industry, allowing long term relationships to be built with our clients.”
Danielle adds: “Our focus is on 100% quality. We are not a company that supplies mass volume temps for cut price labour, it’s about providing high calibre flexible resources that meet client expectations and add value to their businesses, and it clearly works as our clients stay with us for a long time.”
A Warm Future
Earlier this year, with anticipation of tough trading conditions, the Sheffield Insulation management team was cautious about what lay ahead, but with investment in a larger sales team and access to a better range of SIG products the company has been able to secure two new lucrative contracts to supply the Olympic Village and Westfield Shopping Centre.
Looking forward, Extrastaff will be working closely with its client to ensure that it plays a key role in supporting growth through flexible labour channels. “It’s a slow shilling and not a quick pound,” concludes Danielle, “and that means delivering service, value and empathy to clients and candidates. Our partnership with Sheffield Insulation is here for the long haul.”