The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Simpson Builders is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
37SIMPSON BUILDERS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Gordon Simpson, founder and
Loch Ness Shores caravan
In 1999, Gordon Simpson, a builder with a wealth of industry
experience, founded Simpson Builders. Based in Beauly, near
Inverness, they started life with two employees and have
now grown to a team of 30. They became a limited company
in 2003 and their success has continued since that point –
they handle a broad variety of jobs in their area, working on
intriguing contracts and constantly innovating in all they do.
They are flexible building contractors who pride themselves on
being able to adapt and mould their services to best suit their
We are, at heart, a main contracting company. We tender for work and we have a
good reputation, working across the Scottish Highlands, but focus predominantly
on the Inverness area. We have high-profile clients and a track record of working
on projects which are typically innovative as well as challenging. We work on
our own successful developments and are always open to new opportunities
and potential projects. As a result of this, we have set up a subsidiary company,
specifically focusing on concrete flooring and screeds – S1 Floors.
Our people are everything
As I set this up myself and was brought up in a family-run business environment, I
was keen to see that familial sentiment spread throughout Simpson Builders. We
believe that people are our most valuable asset, and this ethos has really helped
to foster a productive environment. Our business might not have been a family to
start with, but it has very much since become one.
»Founder and managing
director: Gordon Simpson
»Established in 1999
»Based in Beauly, near
»Services: Building contractor
»No. of employees: 30
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | SIMPSON BUILDERS
In keeping with this, we want to ensure
that everybody at Simpson Builders
remains comfortable, from employees
to subcontractors and clients. Our
entire team is valuable and they are
recognised as such. This helps to keep
morale up, further our reputation for
innovation and drive a real commitment
for the best possible service within an
appealing company atmosphere.
The past 20 years
We have managed to grow sustainably
and organically since 1999. We
have tried to keep our overheads
low but, naturally, as our workforce
and contracts have increased, we
have required more management.
Turnover has steadily increased and
even through the recession, we
have continued working on our own
projects and designs. The Scottish
government’s social house building
programme has helped enormously
in keeping us not just viable but
Our capabilities have increased in
kind, too. The projects we are working
on have been steadily getting larger
and larger. Last year, we completed a
£2.7million project on 22 homes for
Albyn Housing Association in Dingwall,
but, really, the jewel in our crown
as of late has been our work with
the National Trust for Scotland on a
Victorian house set in the middle of
the famous Inverewe Gardens.
Bringing the house back to life to
become a visitor centre for a site
of such esteemed heritage was no
small undertaking. Although it took
10 months and required 15 of our
employees on site alongside numerous
subcontractors, it was a massive overall
success. As a result, the National Trust
for Scotland have expressed a desire to
work with us again in the future.
These projects, and others we
have been working on, have seen
this kind of success thanks in part
to our commitment to quality.
A good relationship with our
subcontractors, however, has also
For us, quality is essential. Building
partnerships with not only our
subcontractors, but architects and other
professional service providers, opens a
lot of doors. It allows us to have access
to new contracts and repeat business.
When you work closely with the people
that have the access and authority
to get the right documentation and
decisions processed quickly, things
really do start moving. We’re a small
company that can work on big projects
Renovation of a house in
New house, Shieldaig,
We’re a small
can work on
big projects in
a quick and
39SIMPSON BUILDERS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
in a quick and accessible manner.
Asaresult, we have established a
positive reputation in the area, and
seen referrals and recommendations
bring in all manner of work. We always
strive to provide the best we can on site
and leave every project having formed
good relationships with everyone
This quality has been something
evident throughout the two decades
we have been working, but we are,
of course, invested in the future of
Simpson Builders. This means taking
on apprenticeships, which is something
we have tried to focus on. In 2016, we
received both a CITB Apprenticeship
Award and recognition as an SME
Employer of the Year. We have been
recognised by our council for supporting
schools and are renowned in our area
as a local firm investing in the future.
Material prices, European
concerns and building standards
We have found that fluctuation in
the prices of materials has been
a real challenge. House prices are
not increasing in a manner that is
proportional to these costs for the
contractors, and the amount of raw
materials going into any building is now
monumental. Working on our own
developments is becoming more and
more difficult as material costsescalate.
In keeping with this, we have seen
insulation, for example, skyrocket
in price. Most of it is imported from
Europe, and though, where we can,
we do purchase everything from local
merchants, some materials do have to
come from there. We have furthermore
seen decisions stagnate as a result of
Brexit, which is only making changes in
this regard slow downmassively.
Finally, while improved building
standards have made new houses
more soundproof, warm and
comfortable, we feel that the materials
and administration required to meet
these standards have not been
sufficiently accommodated for in local
authority costings. This also means
that it is increasingly challenging to
meet clients’ expectations in pricing
A glance forwards
In spite of these concerns, however, we
will continue to look for opportunities
and remain on the same trajectory we
are presently. There’s no one year the
same at Simpson – we don’t know
what projects lie ahead, whether it
might be one massive project or a
spread of smaller ones. We want to stay
adaptable and flexible, we want to take
on more young blood and we want to
focus on the future of the company.
We see ourselves growing in sympathy
with the needs of our market, all
the while maintaining our hard-won
reputation for quality and reliability.
We have been
our council for
in our area as
a local firm
Our office team
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.