Darren Sparrey, founder and managing director of Bideford-based DS Electrical, doesn’t mince his words when describing the importance of winning contracts at Hinkley Point to his business: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
DS Electrical was founded in 1994 to provide electrical services within the Industrial, Domestic and Commercial areas. Their commitment to quality, service and continual development has made DS Electrical one of the South West’s leading electrical specialists with regular clients including Tesco, Lidl and a number of other large retailers.
Employing over 60 staff throughout the South West, Darren said: “We form long-term relationships with our customers, suppliers and employees. We strive to build and maintain customer satisfaction through a superior quality of service based on respect and trust”.
The NICEIC-approved electrical contractor offers solutions within all aspects of electrical contracting and is currently carrying out a contract to replace all the existing lighting to LED within various Tesco stores throughout the country.
Darren first registered DS Electrical onto the Hinkley Supply Chain portal 18 months ago. His first opportunity came when he was approached by TCi (GB) Ltd (itself a Tier 1 contractor at HPC specialising in workspace and commercial environment fit out and refurbishment specialists) to tender for the electrical installation of the new Central Production Kitchen that supports the main construction site’s huge catering operation. The company was successful with its bid and was delighted to complete the project successfully alongside TCi (GB) Ltd.
“We started reading everything we could to find out more about the project, including the Hinkley Supply Chain newsletters and attending as many workshops as possible, which gave us the opportunity to meet various other contractors who shared their knowledge with us – all of this helped us to understand what was required to actually become a supplier.”
He added: “The more I found out, the more I wanted to know, and I knew this wasn’t just a good opportunity for the business. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which rarely comes around in the South West.”
As with most success stories at HPC, the contracts did not come immediately. Darren had to ensure his team were put through stringent health and safety training to prove their readiness to meet the higher than normal standards demanded by the project.
“It was a steep learning curve,” he explained, “We invested a lot of time and money into getting ourselves ready for HPC and, in fact, it was a valuable and rewarding exercise as we’ve driven up our own standards right across the business and we now take that experience of best practice into our work with all our other clients.”
DS Electrical personnel has undergone HPC Approved Person and subsequent HPC Permit training and has worked on several high-profile electrical projects connected to HPC, including the fit-out of the bars in the Workers Accommodation Campus facilities on site and in Bridgwater and the fit-out of the vehicle maintenance warehouse at Junction 24, once again under TCi (GB) Ltd as the appointed Principle Contractor.
“We’ve worked on some large projects previously within Bridgwater, including the electrical installation to the Morrisons chilled distribution depot, but we are hoping the HPC work will put us in a whole new league.
“It’s making a big difference to us, not just financially, but also in terms of how we define ourselves as a business and present our services to the world. For example, we’re launching a new, more professional-looking website so that potential customers can easily identify the capabilities of our team, which we probably wouldn’t have done before.”
When asked what advice he would offer to other business owners thinking of trying to win contracts at Hinkley Point C, Darren had this to offer: “Don’t let the scale and complexity of contracts at Hinkley Point C put you off from engaging with the Project. To be honest, I haven’t it found any more or less problematic than any of our other client work.
“The rewards are there for sure, but don’t think for a minute that it’s just going to come flowing to you because it won’t!
“As a business we have invested a lot into this, such as putting the majority of our engineers through the HPC training and health and safety courses, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.”
He added: “Having been self-employed for 25 years now I’ve had plenty of ups and downs, at times it’s felt like battle after battle, but now we’re finally reaping the rewards of all that hard work.”