A closer focus on projects and customers in the South East has been promised by Scorpion Buildings as the company establishes a full-time sales presence in the area.
Surrey-born Keith Stoner has been appointed to head up Scorpion Buildings’ new approach in this part of the world, and he sees himself as far more than the ‘sales representative’ title on his business card suggests.
“My background is in building, not sales, and so I see my role as advising customers on how best to achieve what they want from their building and then project managing the work right through to completion,” he said.
Managing director Andy Lawrence, in Kent for the Fruit Focus event in East Malling, added: “I want Scorpion to offer a more complete service in this part of the world and have brought in Keith to provide direct contact with customers.
“Scorpion has a great reputation in the South East, where it has provided buildings to the farming community for more than 20 years and is well known for both the quality of its steel-framed buildings and its workmanship. I see Keith’s hands-on project management and customer focus as adding to the service we provide.”
Keith grew up in Sussex, and his family’s agricultural building business gave him experience of the industry from an early age.
He studied constructional engineering, set up his own building company in 2001 and worked for a number of years as a project manager for a company specialising in commercial buildings.
“My priority now is making sure that Scorpion continues to provide the complete package of professional advice, good design and top build quality in both agricultural and commercial steel-framed buildings,” he commented.
“It’s not about throwing a few numbers into a computer programme and coming up with a price. Every project and every building is different and needs to be treated that way. My priority when responding to an enquiry is to visit the farm, look at the site and discuss the options with them.”
With Keith on board, Scorpion can now keep the whole project in-house, from estimating the cost and drawing the plans through to supervising the building and, in particular, the sheeting. “The whole look of the building depends on the quality of the sheeting and we make sure we use the best sheeting erectors to get that right,” said Andy.
Based in Marlborough, Wiltshire, Scorpion currently has a turnover of around £7m and operates across the whole of the country south of Birmingham.
The company’s focus on quality is such that the managing director said he would welcome a tightening of the rules to restrict the activities of ‘amateur’ steel frame builders.
“The introduction of CE marking has gone a long way to level the playing field and improve standards within the industry but I would go further and encourage the authorities to introduce building regulations for agricultural buildings,” Andy commented. “I really don’t know why the industry is allowed to operate without them.”
While agricultural buildings are the company’s mainstay, Scorpion also delivers industrial buildings and is currently erecting recycling centres in London and Bridport. “Having a number of strings to our bow keeps us busy, as sectors tend to peak and trough at different times,” said Andy.
At the moment the company is seeing a lot of interest from vineyards in Kent and Sussex, in particular, looking for new cold stores and processing facilities. Among Scorpion’s current projects is a store capable of holding 750,000 bottles of chilled white wine.
More surprising is the news that pig units are in demand in Oxfordshire, while equestrian buildings continue to be a staple part of Scorpion Buildings’ projects.
“Equestrian businesses have always provided a steady stream of work,” commented Andy. “One recent project was a barn to house 50 luxury stables for racehorse trainer Charlie Mann in Lambourn, Berkshire.”
One area that continues to create demand for new buildings is cereal farming, with new grain stores regularly featuring on the company’s order books. In the past year, Scorpion erected a £1m grain store on the south coast – its biggest project to date – and another store in Dorset which represented its second biggest contract.
“It’s no secret that having decent grain storage is important for cereal farmers these days,” commented Andy. “It means you can release grain when the price is right rather than having to sell it just because you don’t have enough storage space.”
Scorpion Buildings, which now has a workforce of around 30 people, also ensures that its suppliers meet its own high standards.
“Briarwood, for example, is a preferred supplier of roofing materials because of the excellent quality of its Eurosix fibre cement materials. The support we receive on all projects from selected suppliers means we can place every order with confidence,” said Andy.