A SCAFFOLDING company plans to double in size and continue making its name in the European offshore windfarm industry.
That’s the vision of Ben Badham, Managing Director of record-breaking North Wales firm, BGB Scaffolding.
Previously a roofer and tower crane operator, Ben later became a trainee scaffolder and was named in the top three Apprentices of the Year at CITB National Construction College in Birmingham, before deciding to set up on his own in 2007.
It was just Ben, a labourer and a van, with a shipping container for storage, yet he grew and grew the organisation through word of mouth and by building a solid reputation for quality and safety.
His enthusiasm and knowledge also played a major part in their initial success, and a passionate approach to all projects.
Twelve years on and based in Kinmel Bay, BGB Scaffolding employs 26 people, 18 of which are GWO (Global Wind Organisation) and HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) qualified.
The business has also become an international player having signed major contracts with Orsted, the global leader in offshore wind, to supply and erect scaffolding on the world’s two largest windfarms – Walney Extension off Barrow-in-Furness, and Hornsea One off the east coast of Yorkshire.
This has secured their place among the UK’s major players, and they look set to grow even further after opening a new office and yard space on Grimsby Docks in Humberside – the world hub for green energy – alongside associates Offshore Painting Services.
The 38-year-old, originally from Rhyl, says BGB Scaffolding is on an upward trajectory and expects that to continue, but never at the expense of the health and safety of his employees, in what he admits can be a challenging job.
“I think how seriously we take safety is vital as it is important to know we have done everything within our power to ensure colleagues arrive to work and get home safe each and every day, ensuring that we are working to our industry Best Practices and also that we as a company are fully aware of our duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (2015),” said Ben.
“Within the company we continue to professionally develop our work force and safety is paramount to all of this; some of the training courses completed by our team includes NEBOSH in Construction, IOSH Managing Safely and Site Management Safety Training Scheme, to name just a few.
“This has enabled us to enhance our safety culture within the workforce and ensures our clients are supported by a professional contractor.”
He added: “I was only 25 when I started the company but from day one the ethos was the same, to always develop and learn and to stay ahead of the curve.
“As with any trade within construction, scaffolding can be a very dangerous industry if work is not planned and coordinated correctly, then mistakes and incidents happen, especially when we are working on offshore platforms in difficult weather and an ever-changing environment.”
Despite these pitfalls, since BGB started recording its working persons hours three and a half years ago, they have amassed a staggering 175,000 person hours without a single Lost Time Injury.
The company’s profile as a leader in its field has also seen them write their name in the record books as the first company to ever erect scaffolding on a floating wind turbine, and the first to ever work on four platforms simultaneously on the same project in UK waters, on Hornsea Offshore Windfarm Project One.
An innovative approach is what sets them apart, whether inland or offshore, using the latest technology to plan where scaffolding and materials will be placed before even visiting the site.
“Companies using the correct technical guidelines have made the biggest strides,” said Ben.
“We can map out the whole project from our computers here in the office and pre-design every job we do. You shouldn’t really be erecting any scaffolding up without design, but sadly there is still a vast majority of firms who are working outside these practices, which is an archaic mentality.”
With the UK Government pledging that 30% of green electricity will be provided by offshore energy by 2030, more and more windfarms are to be built in the years ahead.
While BGB continues to acquire contracts on home soil, including St Bueno’s spiritualist retreat in Tremeirchion and a new build housing estate and office blocks in Tattenhall and a solar panel project throughout North Wales and the North-West, he is confident a blend of onshore and offshore schemes will sustain and push the business onto even greater things.
Next up is completion of their ISO accreditation and further professional development of his workforce, notably in health and safety and within our industry, and cementing their place among the giants of the sector.
“The future is green, so I envisage more work offshore while focusing on both sides of the firm,” said Ben.
“Our ultimate vision is to at least double the size of the business and our workforce in the next five years, opening the Grimsby site and looking at more work in Europe. We already cover all areas within the UK, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, but have plans to reach further afield.”
He added: “When I started out, I never dreamt it would be like this, working with such huge organisations and employing so many people, but I always wanted it to be a success.
“Doing so means we have witnessed first-hand how to grow and raise our profile, and as a result we have just introduced an internal App so our teams can complete and update risk assessments, method statements, inspections and more key aspects required for scaffolding.”
As a new Dad with a young daughter, Ben revealed it can be tough being away for several days or weeks at a time, but with the support of his family he has been able to continue to commit himself to building up a client base while focusing on company growth.
“As well as my family I must thank Dave Abraham and Jen Wood from Fulcrum Scaffolding Safety and Training Ltd, who’ve been a huge help and resource for all our training, policies and procedures and guidance,” he said.
“And thank you to all of our staff, who take pride in their work and have enabled BGB to provide a service of the highest standard to UK and Europe. Without them buying into our safety-first ethos then none of this would be achievable.”
Ben added: “It’s good to take a step back and look at where you’ve been and where you’re going. When you’re busy you don’t always take time to reflect, your aspirations just grow steadily in line with the work and the people you work with, and that’s helped us to get to this position – long may that continue.”