RUBB

Nationwide Concrete Flooring, part of the Nationwide Diamond group of companies, is one of the most flexible and versatile concrete flooring contractors in the market place. Together with sister company Nationwide Diamond Contracts, the concrete floor repair specialists, they pride themselves on being experts in all aspects of concrete flooring design, installation, maintenance and repair, and the two companies work closely together for high profile blue chip clients including Universities a leading kitchen supplier and Supermarket chains.

With substantial growth in demand for their services, the Nationwide Diamond Group have doubled in turnover in the last year, and are recruiting new staff and investing in new machinery. But Nationwide Diamond are not stopping there. They have also invested in a new web site www.nationwidediamondgroup.co.uk and are stepping up their marketing activity to get the message across to potential customers. Jon Wilcox, one of the Directors of the Nationwide Diamond Group, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – When were Nationwide Concrete Flooring and Nationwide Diamond Contracts founded, and who by?

I started the business three years ago, with my co-director Allan Bamforth.

WLN – What were you both doing before that?

I worked for a major flooring contractor, and Allan carried out saw cutting and floor repairs in his own business.

WLN – Jon, what is your role these days? Are you personally involved in looking after individual clients?

I’m involved in pricing new projects and looking after all of our clients. Allan is in control of all site activities, and has a site supervisor to assist him.

WLN – Whereabouts are you based? Do you have any regional offices? What about in other countries?

We are based in Howden, in the heart of East Yorkshire. We don’t use regional offices, in order to minimise overheads, and we only work in the UK.

WLN – How would you sum up what Nationwide Concrete Flooring does?

Nationwide Concrete Flooring specialises in designing and implementing concrete flooring solutions to customers in the industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors. We have a vast range of laser screeding and power floating equipment and regularly promote the use of steel fibre, polypropylene fibre and steel fabric mesh reinforcement to suit each individual project. We are specialists within a specialist field. We cater for all of our clients’ concrete flooring needs, and have machinery and vehicles adapted to suit every aspect of our projects and services.

WLN – What are NCF’s core activities?

Our work includes anti-slip flooring; joint sealants and repairs; instant seal; construction joint repairs; repair maintenance service packages; diamond floor polishing, concrete floor planning, wire guidance joint repairs and concrete slab removal. NCF is also responsible for the design and installation of new concrete floor slabs.

WLN – What does Nationwide Diamond Contracts do?

We’re predominantly involved in the concrete floor repair market, offering a 24-hour, 7 days a week maintenance and repair service for a broad spectrum of clients. NDC is also responsible for concrete flooring maintenance in conjunction with Nationwide Concrete Flooring.

WLN – What kinds of premises do you provide floor repair services for?

We work for industrial warehouses, pharmaceutical companies, car showrooms, retail stores and supermarkets. We work on both internal and external floors.

WLN – As a complete aside, do you do any work in the domestic housing sector, for instance on post-subsidence floor repairs? Is this a growing area?

We’re not really involved in the housing sector, although we have done some work in this area.

WLN – Have you developed any of the materials and machinery you use, yourselves? Do you manufacture any of these items yourselves? Do you have any exclusive links with any suppliers of the materials and equipment that you use?

We import and market our own branded joint sealant, known as Instant Seal. We don’t believe in exclusive links with suppliers, but have good relationships with such companies as EPMS, Cemex, Sika and Tyrolit.

WLN – Presumably both businesses cross-sell the other one’s services where relevant – NCF tells clients buying new floors about NDC’s repair expertise, and vice versa?

Yes we do. This means we can offer clients long term maintenance packages where other flooring contractors just want to lay new floors and run off, and maintenance contractors have no idea how the cracks have appeared in the first place. Because we do both, we usually have the answer as to why something has happened.

WLN – What other businesses are there in the Nationwide Diamond group?

There are no other businesses as yet, but we are looking at another bolt-on business, which we hope will take off later in the year. We also have other ideas for the future, but need more time and money to enable us to progress further.

WLN – What industry sectors do you work in? Which sectors are growing fastest in terms of customers, at the moment?

Our biggest sectors are waste, food, commercial, industrial and agricultural. We will always need to eat, and we will always generate waste. The agricultural side of the business has been one of the company’s target markets over the past fourteen months, and something we have heavily marketed.

WLN – You’ve doubled your turnover in the past year. That’s a pretty impressive achievement. How have you done it?

What’s driving demand for your services? One reason is that for the first two years, our turnover was pathetic, to be honest. The second reason is that we have invested in a new laser screed, anti-slip groover, concrete polisher, planers and grinders, which has enabled the company to offer more services to more clients. We also try to offer an exceptional service to our loyal clients and therefore benefit from the repeat work scenario.

WLN – Talk us through your contracts in the last year for Cambridge University, the kitchen manufacturer and Lidl.

Cambridge University’s Assessment Centre asked us to remove and replace a concrete floor slab. Work had to be done in the evening to minimise noise disruption and also fit into a five-day working period, due to the client’s building programme. Nationwide Diamond Contracts’ staff were also busy throughout the Christmas period repairing the 20,000m2 concrete floor slab at a distribution warehouse on the Brackmills Industrial estate for a major kitchen manufacturer. Due to their extreme workload, we only had a very small window of opportunity to carry out the repairs and worked round the clock prior to the DC reopening after the Christmas break. NDC staff also carried out slab repairs at Lidl’s distribution centre in Newton Aycliffe, working at night to fit in with the company’s work pattern.

WLN – What other new projects have you got under way?

We’re working on a new warehouse facility for Topps Tiles in Leicester, overlay concrete floor slabs in Beverley, coloured dry shake floors for Lotus Cars, concrete grinding in Castleford, concrete planing in Liverpool, diamond floor polishing in Driffield and joint sealing in Oldham.

WLN – Are tight timeframes and awkward working hours typical of the projects you get asked to do?

Very much so! We work bank holidays, nights and weekends.

WLN – You’re growing quickly at the moment. How much more capacity have you to take on more new design and implementation work?

We have a lot more capacity to take on new flooring work.

WLN – What about ‘repair and replace’ projects?

Repairs are awkward due to timescales and we get booked up consistently at weekends, but during the week it is variable.

WLN – How much notice do you need?

We never get enough notice and it is pointless moaning, so Allan and I just get on with it. We always try and help the customer out, as that is the nature of our business.

WLN – Can you cover the whole UK?

We will go, and do go, anywhere in the UK.

WLN – What are your main activities specifically for warehouse & logistics operations?

We offer ongoing maintenance and repair. If a client has a problem causing a potential Health & Safety issue, then we must react immediately to prevent accidents and allow them to maintain operating efficiency.

WLN – How do you compare with other specialist concrete services companies?

We are not aware of any other company that offers the entire services that we do, and if there is somebody then I apologise to you!

WLN – Do you bring in for example concrete grinding specialists, or do you have those resources inhouse?

We own all our machinery and we train all our staff ourselves. We don’t bake cakes, all our kit is used on concrete, which is a very unforgiving material. We employ a full time fitter, who is often called upon during the night to keep the jobs going as we are always working to deadlines.

WLN – You mentioned wire guidance joint repairs in the list of activities. In the warehouse area, are floor installations for narrow aisle, VNA and guide by wire a growing part of your business?

Yes, they are. It is very common to see joints break down at this interface, and it costs a lot of money to operators when VNA forklifts become damaged or have to slow down. VNA systems are fantastic, but require a very flat floor in order to work properly. We have carried numerous concrete repairs within VNA sections and enjoy the work, hence we would like to quote for more work if possible.

WLN – Do you carry out floor inspection and upgrades as a customer service? What floor flatness tolerances do you work to?

We inspect a number of floors for various clients usually twice a year, unless specifically requested to do otherwise. We have the capacity to grind or improve the floors to allow smooth trafficking of concrete floor and or joints.

WLN – You hear of forklift truck companies and racking companies taking total charge of turnkey warehouse building and fit out projects, as opposed to building contractors. Do you work with these companies to install fit for purpose floors?

These companies do offer clients turnkey packages, and they are very good at organising this. We are happy to work for them or alongside them – whichever suits the client. Some smaller operations just want one backside to kick, which I can understand.

WLN – Have you won any industry awards for what you do?

No, but then by the same token we have never entered any! It’s definitely an area to look at.

WLN – What proportion of your work is new installs versus repair and replace?

This varies depending on upon time of year. At Easter, Christmas and weekends, it is always repair projects, with new concrete floors being laid during the week.

WLN – Is there a checklist readers can use to decide if they need to call you in? What’s involved in identifying the best solution for a job? How long does it take you to reach a recommendation?

For repair enquiries it is very difficult for customers to relay information, as concrete behaves inconsistently at times. New build enquiries are slightly easier, as we tend to be able to offer budgetary guidance over the phone.

WLN – You’ve recently launched a new web site. Can you tell us about that?

The website has been designed by our sales and marketing person Claire Gilleard, who is excellent in this field and has taken a lot of the marketing tasks off Allan and myself, which is a major benefit to the company.

WLN – What other marketing activities are you doing to get the message across about your expertise?

We are about to start monthly newsletters and maintain regular updates on latest developments. I have appeared on television twice in six months, but none of it has been prime time mainstream as yet, so that is an obvious ambition for the future.

WLN – Are you taking part in any industry exhibitions?

We regularly exhibit at agricultural exhibitions, and support and attend local business seminars and any concrete related exhibition going! We love concrete.

WLN – Finally, where do you see Nationwide Diamond Group going from here? Are you looking for more staff? Is an acquisition on the cards?

Like most companies we are cautious due to the economic climate, but we are always in the market for good quality and ambitious staff and labour. We are not in the business for a fast buck, as this is not in our nature. We expect all of our staff to have an open mind, friendly manner and willingness to go that extra mile to help secure the company and all of our futures. We would like to grow slowly but surely to maintain a service, whilst still allowing investment.

Nationwide Diamond Group

Tel: 01430 436596

www.nationwidediamondgroup.co.uk

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