A business leader has reaffirmed his belief that people and relationships are at the heart of business growth. Hull-founded Sewell Group is famous for being a Sunday Times ‘Best Company to Work For’ business and has delivered over £500m of new and improved buildings within East Yorkshire over the past decade. Now, its project management expertise and people focused culture are being sought-after further afield.
The firm has recently transformed a Grade II listed Print Hall into a stunning library and learning space on behalf of Leeds City College in the emerging South Bank of Leeds, and is currently on site preparing the second Print Hall for a significant refurbishment scheduled for later this year.
Sewell is also working with the University of Leeds, refurbishing a four storey geography block into a new School of Fine Arts, and is supporting Huddersfield based Greenhead College with an extension building.
Managing director Paul Sewell explained that the business has not proactively planned to stretch its geography so rapidly, but has been fortunate in finding partners that regard relationships and ‘cultural fit’ as highly as Sewell.
“What we think we do really well is work as a single team with our partners and their consultants to find and deliver solutions, whether that be through investment, construction, or facilities management” said Paul. “We want long term partnerships with like-minded partners, who believe in honest and open relationships and see the benefits when we’re in it for the long haul.
“We have our own investment portfolio, and over the years we’ve developed our learning in sustainability and flexible design, so it’s in our nature to approach every project as if it was our own investment, thinking about the whole life of the building, rather than just the immediate project that’s in front of us.”
Sewell Group’s construction division has been recognised for its approach in a published academic journal, written by Professor Terry Williams, Dean of University of Hull Business School. The internationally recognised paper echoes that culture and a single team, partnership mentality breeds construction excellence.
Paul continued: “When I look at our success over the past ten to fifteen years, it has been all about our culture. We know who we want to be and who we are. It is not easy but we trust our culture and believe that, as long as we deliver construction excellence, our customers will remain loyal.
“We have to stick to what we believe in a crowded market place. We’re not the knocking on doors kind of business. Our partnership approach will suit some customers, others
“We’ve been fortunate to find some fantastic partners in Leeds who have the same partnership ethos as us. We work as a single team and when there are problems, we run towards them together and put them right.”
But the firm is far from turning its back on its home city. Sewell is project managing The University of Hull’s £30m student residences. Work on the University’s new complex at its Cottingham Road campus is progressing at a pace and will see six new accommodation blocks, housing 560 students, open in September 2016.
Paul said: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to be carrying out such a significant and prestigious project for our own University, in our home city. The benefit of the completed project to the University will match the benefit to the local economy.
“At this stage it’s very much a volume project. In the last 20 weeks of the development we’ll be completing 33 bedrooms each week.”
Sewell is also supporting Hull City Council with its legacy projects as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2017, a 365 day programme of arts and cultural events to be hosted in the city. Subject to financial close, the Hull New Theatre scheme will include a part demolition of the building to the rear of the facility, a reconfiguration of the backstage access and stage improvements. The customer experience will also be much improved with improved front of house facilities.
Reinforcing its support and commitment to Hull, the business has also given its backing to the nation’s next major cultural event, signing up to a major sponsorship deal.
“Hosting UK City of Culture 2017 is a phenomenal accolade for Hull and it is only right that local businesses and their partners now support them in making the most of the year” said Paul. “This is a major investment for a company like ours, but it’s also a major national and international event. No one wants to look back in 2020 feeling they could have made more of it. We have to grasp these opportunities now.”