Zoe Wheeler, MD of Tamworth-based electrical engineering firm, NLT Electrical, tells PE readers why the company decided to put its time in ‘lockdown’ to positive use.
Since we were founded in 2012 by Owner, Nathan Tromans, our company has steadily and organically grown to accommodate a growing customer base and needs.
We’re a registered company and accredited by the NICEIC. For us, this quality assurance provides a standard guarantee of work, which is especially important because we specialise in construction work related to the installation, design, and maintenance of electrical systems.
Our team of qualified and experienced commercial electricians perform an extensive range of work, including full and certified electrical testing and inspection, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems.
Between them, the staff have many years’ experience of working with lighting and CCTV systems, along with repair and rewiring projects. We conduct all our work efficiently, causing minimal disruption and inconvenience to the running of the client’s business.
It’s safe to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected our business massively – just like so many other companies across the UK.
The factories in which we carry out most of our works ceased production almost immediately upon the government’s announcement(s), so we were forced to furlough 80% of our workforce and also make two redundancies. Two engineers were kept on full pay, with both effectively on standby for any emergency works that were requested.
Nathan and I are very proactive people, so we both decided that as the phone lines were quieter, we would focus on accreditations that we’d been working towards but have previously been too busy to dedicate the time that’s really needed to acquire them.
We felt that this was the right direction for the business, and that when we finally return to some sort of normality we’ll be well placed to really stand out in our trade. It will also enable us to seek out new customers that require the accreditations that we’ve achieved to work on their projects.
So, which ones did we achieve in that time and why?
CHAS (The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme)
This a pre-approval scheme, which allows contractors to demonstrate to potential clients that they meet the required health and safety standards.
Being CHAS accredited means we can now tender for work with Local Authorities, hospitals, universities, schools, and larger construction companies. It’s usually required by these types of clients, as it proves to them that the contractor is professional and safety-conscious. By completing the CHAS accreditation, many companies are then considered an approved contractor, so will continue to work on these kinds of sites and secure themselves more work for the future.
This is a government-run scheme, which collects, assesses, and monitors our standard company information. It’s the largest pre-qualification database in the UK and the UK’s leading procurement and supply chain management service.
Constructionline looks at a range of aspects of the business – from financials to operational processes, such as health and safety. It also considers compliance issues, which apply to the work we undertake.
Constructionline is used by a number of larger companies/contractors (the NHS Trust, local councils and Places for People are among those listed on the Constructionline website) as a way to pre-qualify businesses and their ability to carry out a project.
ISO 9001 is the most widely used and recognised Quality Management System (QMS) standard in the world and provides a framework and set of principles that ensure a common-sense approach to the management of our organisation to consistently satisfy customers and other stakeholders.
In simple terms, ISO 9001 certification provides the basis for effective processes and people to deliver an equally-effective product or service, time after time.
We believe that the key to any successful business is strong quality control. If we want our operation to thrive, our potential consumer base must be confident that the goods or services we offer meet or exceed expected standards. ISO 9001 is a quick and easy way for potential consumers to see that we have put the time and effort into making sure our product and service is the best it can possibly be.
To satisfy all the criteria for these accreditations, we needed to investigate every aspect of the day-to-day running of the business and our processes.
The good news for us was that we were already fulfilling the criteria for all the accreditations. The bad news, however, was that they were not properly documented, so it took many hours to get the processes out of our heads and on to paper.
We stuck at it, and I’m pleased to say that all of our processes and procedures are now documented for all to see and abide by. It also means that anyone new coming into the business can clearly see the processes involved in all aspects of our work. Our expectations are clearly documented too, for both employees and our customers.
Nathan and I are able to be very self-critical of the business and this helped us to also see where we could make other improvements along the way. These have already been instigated and, once they’re implemented, we believe the business will be further improved.
During the process we’ve learned some really valuable lessons, including the fact that we have a fantastic company with a very strong, happy culture. This is something that we believe to be the case before the pandemic, but its cemented further in our minds now.
We’re ambitious and want to grow the business, so the accreditations have made us stronger in this regard. We can now chase the bigger contracts that will enable the business to really grow, and one day we’d like to make NLT Electrical a nationally familiar name/brand.
Outside of the work we’ve been doing with the accreditations, Nathan and I are always on the look-out for new opportunities and business ventures. Lockdown has proved a success in that regard as we’ve successfully started a new business – Charge And Recharge – which focuses solely on the consultation, supply, installation and maintenance of electric vehicle chargers at residential, commercial and industrial properties.
NLT Electrical engineers have been trained and are qualified to install EV chargers. We’re aiming to achieved ‘Approved Status’ once manufacturer training sites are open again and have been busy educating ourselves on the varying models and technical specs of chargers from all leading suppliers. This knowledge can then be passed on to our customers.
Looking into the future
At the time of writing, we now have all of our engineers back to work, which is positive news. We’ve also agreed to accept TWO apprentices; one has already started with us, while the other is due to begin shortly.
Additionally, we have some exciting projects that we’re working on at the moment. Interested readers can have a look at some of these by checking out our social media pages, or subscribing to our monthly newsletter.
All in all we’ve had a very productive time of things during the lockdown, and are now looking forward to reaping the benefits of our hard work in the future.
Visit the NLT Electrical website by clicking here