MMES 2012 Ltd is one of the many Somerset businesses already making the most of the Hinkley Point C project. Formerly trading as Mike Morgan Electrical Services, the company has recently benefited from work linked to the new traffic control system around Bridgwater, installing power supplies as well as doing inspection and testing on new roadside cameras. As project manager Mike Morgan explains, “There’s a lot of work already going on in the area because Hinkley C is coming, so the opportunity is there to be taken.”
Mike signed the business up to the Hinkley supply chain in 2012 and as a result he started to receive invitations to the various Hinkley-related events organised by the Somerset Chamber and Sedgemoor District Council. He has since got involved in both the Hinkley supplier groups and the ‘Raise Your Game’ workshops, which he says have given him lots of useful information and helped him put his business in the right place to benefit from the Hinkley opportunity. Speaking about his involvement, he says, “I try to get myself out there as much as I can as it’s all about making the most of the opportunity – opening your eyes, talking to other people, it all helps to create opportunities. This project is a great opportunity to build your company, getting it into a strong position to make sure it will be there for future generations.”
The company has been investing both time and money in order to get ‘Hinkley ready’. “We’ve put together a portfolio to hand out, we’ve done mailshots and we’ve got an advertising screen at Junction 25 because there’s a lot of development going on there. We’re also doing the Growth Accelerator programme, which is something the Somerset Chamber has helped us to get onto. It’s a three year process and already through this scheme, and through the Chamber, opportunities are coming to me that I wasn’t really aware of before.
“I’ve been doing this a long time but I’ve always had my head into the work itself and have never really had the opportunity to get somebody to help me look at all those areas where we can improve bit by bit. This whole process has enabled that to happen, and we’ve got 50% support on the cost too.”
In addition, the company is planning to upgrade some of its employees to technician level with the help of the Energy Skills Centre and Construction Skills Centre at Bridgwater College. It is also investing in upgrades to its computer systems and software, and has taken on two more apprentices this year, providing increased capacity within the business.
Mike said he has been extremely impressed with the support from the Somerset Chamber. “They are so user friendly! They’re very positive and they make it easy to see what’s on offer, it’s very plainly put and there is constant advice in any area – whatever you’re discussing with them, there always seems to be someone at the Chamber with their finger on the pulse. They’ve got great contact at all levels with EDF too, which definitely helps.”
Through the supplier events that the Somerset Chamber has organised, Mike has had an exceptional opportunity to present his business to the commercial directors of four of the appointed Tier 1 contractors: Alstom, Areva, Bouygues/Laing O’Rourke (BYLOR) and Costain. “I was really pleased with that and got some positive comments from them,” he said. “It may not come to anything, however the representative from Alstom took my portfolio and suggested he pass it on to one of his tier 1 or tier 2 contractors.
“The Hinkley supply chain portal certainly allows you to engage if you want to. There are no promises but if you can come up to standard, get your price right and do it on time, you may get an opportunity to work on the project.”
Mike is part of the team working to establish the Somerset Facilities Management supplier group, which aims to bring together a wide range of different businesses under one ‘umbrella’ company to manage and facilitate works at Hinkley Point C during construction both on and off site. This will include areas such as electrical services, plumbing, cleaning facilities, building maintenance and much more. If they are successful, one of his tasks will be to bring together other people listed on the supply chain portal to assist with the electrical works. “We’ll be pulling together other people, getting them up to standard if they’re not already and helping them with that. There will be a lot of collaboration and a lot more opportunity coming out of that group.
“I’m a minnow in with some much bigger companies but I’m able to take part and hopefully in the end we’ll make a bigger company out of it and create a bigger opportunity for all of us.”
The opportunity created through the supply chain is having a positive effect all round for Mike’s business. “We’ve had projects such as Morrisons, the new Police Station and Bridgwater Hospital going on around us and we couldn’t get anywhere near it, which has been frustrating. But now, thanks to the Chamber and the portal, more avenues have opened up – not only for Hinkley but because we’re meeting so many people who are involved in other areas, that network is now opening up other local opportunities.”
Summing up, Mike says, “We had a hard five or ten years, struggling to win contracts and maintain good morale, but all of these things happening means we’ve got a happier house – we can afford to train people, we can afford to pay a reasonable rate of pay, everybody’s happier really. So what I see from this opportunity is full employment, good pay for people, happy people, and that’s what we’re really after.”
Mike Morgan set up his electrical services business 25 years ago, working initially as a sole trader from a shed at the back of the house before later growing the business. Mike Morgan Electrical Services now has a team of 16 people, with 12 out in the field and another 4 in the office. The company works across Somerset and the South West, with occasional national projects, covering service, maintenance and installation for industrial, commercial and domestic clients.