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Digital Readiness


Embracing “productivity to survive” helped one firm compete with multinationals

compete with multinationals
Involving its people has meant Mann Williams can compete at a higher level

Wanting to free up more time so the business can target winning more work, Spencer Fereday talks Be the Business through his efforts to become more productive and compete with multinationals in a very challenging sector.

Fereday is director at Mann Williams, a civil and structural design engineering company based in the South West of England which employs just over 30 people. The firm’s varied client base includes the National Trust, universities and private sector clients.

The business needs to compete with multinational firms for contracts and it was this competitive pressure which drove it to really address its productivity challenges.

Hear from Spencer Fereday about his efforts to compete with multinationals

“We predominately work in in new structures and five or six years ago we embraced digital engineering and building information modelling. It was a key turning point for us – we were in the depths of recession, competing against some fairly suicidal bids from larger companies who were backed by Middle East and other foreign work, and so could afford to go in low on the UK market.”

Spencer calls this approach “productivity to survive”. Mann Williams implemented new training to use digital information modelling to speed up production and make it more efficient.

Within 12 months of losing out on some key projects, Spencer says they were able to come back and compete with multinationals at the same level, and as he puts it, “win that work and deliver it without committing commercial suicide”.

Becoming competitive is one thing, but the challenge for Spencer is to maintain it.

“We’re a privately owned company and we compete with multinational companies for our type of work. We have to to to keep competing, we have to stay competitive and part of that is productivity.

“We have to stay there. We have to stay on that curve and that’s really what I look to get out of this course.

“What I’m looking at is, can we produce what we do in in less time and focus on either winning more work or doing the work at even higher quality? We’re looking at the people really getting more out of the work they’re doing. If you can create some time, you can create some more creativity for the company. If we change what we do, we will stay competitive.”

Spencer Fereday is a graduate of the Productivity through People programme, a Be the Business-led initiative that provides SME leaders with access to the latest techniques, thinking and research to transform company productivity and working practices. To find out more, visit our programme’s homepage.

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