Here we chat with Helen Holloway, Finance Director at The Martin Sewell Building Company, who have been one of our longest standing clients.
Tell us a little bit about your business – when it started etc:
Our Managing Director, Martin started the company in 1985 following a five-year engineering apprenticeship with the global electronics brand, Phillips Research. With a strong family background in construction, there was an ideal support network in place with many vital skills being handed down from Martin’s father.
We are a friendly, trustworthy and reliable award-winning business based in Fontwell, West Sussex. The business is still family-run with a dedicated and highly skilled work force who are passionate about listening attentively to clients’ needs and delivering outstanding results. Our company has gained an enviable reputation for excellence, built on an ethos of openness, good communication and honesty.
The Martin Sewell Building Company provide construction expertise and planning on large commercial projects, sensitive renovations of listed buildings, bespoke new-builds and extensions and refurbishments. Our approach is one of professionalism, care and integrity and we are fortunate to have an outstanding in-house team plus specialist sub-contractor partners who offer a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills; from traditional craftsmanship to the latest more contemporary and sustainable construction techniques.
We are proud to be a Chartered Building Company accredited by CIOB and recognised as a Gold Investors in People employer.
What does a normal day consist of/look like for you?
That would depend on who you are in the team…
On site it would be a 7.30am start , team catch up and set out activities for the day. Their day varies enormously given the variety of tasks that we need to fulfil on such a diverse range of projects.
In the office it definitely starts by putting the kettle on, checking emails and then cracking into the day’s tasks. Whether that’s putting together tenders/quotes for our Estimating Team or liaising with clients, team and sub-contractors for our Contracts Team.
On Thursdays the management team take an hour for our Fitness instructor to knock us into shape!
What do you love about where you are based?
The Martin Sewell Building Company office and yard sit on the same site as Martin’s home which boosts our identity as a family, there to support and encourage one another to be the best we can. Situated in the countryside close to Eartham and Slindon it also gives us space to take in the beauty of nature.
One of our now retired carpenters, who is a keen ornithologist, remarked that we have a great diversity of birds around us. We have to be mindful to look up from the busy day to benefit from these things though!
What have been some of your biggest challenges during the global pandemic?
Although construction was not officially locked down at the end of March we took the decision that to protect our team and our clients it was morally right that we temporarily close the business and suspend all project activity. This was incredibly difficult, but we maintained contact with the team throughout to ensure that they were supported during the next 8 weeks of lockdown and gradually returned to site as soon as we felt we were able to safely.
Working practices in the construction industry are particularly difficult given the new challenges that we all face as a result of COVID-19. The nature of the job is that people need to work closely together, frequently in confined or small spaces.
The safety and wellbeing of our staff, sub-contractors and clients at The Martin Sewell Building Company is always paramount and ensuring that we can continue to maintain our high standards of customer care and health and safety practices has been one of our biggest challenges.
Do you have any future goals for the business or things you are looking forward to as life returns to normal (whenever that will be!)?
We look forward to continuing to provide the best construction service in our local area through partnering with our clients to give them the best value for money possible.
Essentially, partnering promotes improved performance through collaborative business relationships based on best value rather than lowest cost. Contract awards are still subject to rigorous competition but judged on pre-determined combinations of quality and cost. The development of openness and trust is in stark contrast to the confrontational nature that has increasingly characterised much of the construction industry over recent decades.
With a keen interest in promoting eco sustainable solutions, we also hope to raise awareness of why it is important to choose local when picking your contractor, in the same way that we are encouraged to shop local and expect cafes and restaurants to use locally sourced ingredients.
How have Blue Spire helped you with your business?
For years Blue Spire have helped The Martin Sewell Building Company by providing us with up to date, relevant business advice whenever we have needed it. Their team are friendly, professional, and approachable.
They always deliver the ‘required’ services such as end of year accounts in a timely and efficient manner and go above and beyond to answer any ad-hoc queries that we have throughout the year promptly.
We feel that Blue Spire provide us with a great accounting support network.
|For any help or business advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.|