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Construction rollercoaster continues

Julie White, the managing director of diamond drilling and concrete sawing company D-Drill, said this week’s GDP figures had revealed modest growth of 0.9 per cent in the sector.

But White, who is vice-president of the International Association of Concrete Drillers and Sawers (IACDS) and is on the committee of the National Association of Women in Construction, thinks the industry will face another 12 months of stagnation.

She said: “It is well documented that construction has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the recession and we are still struggling to get a sustained recovery underway.

“At D-Drill, we lost 40 per cent of our turnover almost overnight when the recession hit and it’s been extremely hard work to grow again.

“As a company, we have achieved growth year on year for the past five years but the market is still very, very tough. We’ve diversified by introducing new divisions to the business such as concrete scanning and cracking and seating of concrete roads and slabs, and we’ve also strengthened our reputation in our more traditional areas of work too.

“It is good for confidence that the GDP figures have revealed growth this week but I am convinced it will be another 12 months before real growth in construction starts to take shape.

“The Government has talked a great deal about infrastructure projects but much of that will not start for another year at least. That is when, I believe, our industry might genuinely be able to say it is growing again.

“There is still a shortage of overall confidence and that means investment decisions are being put off by some and that is stalling growth. As an SME too, we are also finding it is really difficult to get paid because, again, companies are holding on to their cash for as long as they physically can because they are watching the pennies.

“From their point of view, that is understandable but it puts real pressure on SMEs like mine.

“So, ultimately, confidence is going to play a significant part in achieving sustained growth in construction and, also, the long-awaited investment in infrastructure.

“The situation is nowhere near as difficult as it was five or six years ago but it feels as if the market has gone static and I believe it will be another year before we start moving again – it’s a real rollercoaster ride.

“Once that happens, we will have the issue of whether there are enough skilled people out there to help the industry grow. In 2012 alone, 60,000 construction workers lost their jobs and many of them will have gone on to do other things or into retirement so we will need to replace those skills – that could be the next big issue to face the industry.”

Following appearances on Radio 4, Radio 5Live and Sky News on the day of the GDP figures, Julie followed that up with an appearance on Declan Curry’s ‘On The Money’ and ‘Show Me The Money’ programmes on Sunday. On The Money can be heard here

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Investment and diversification the keys to success

D-Drill MD Julie White says the promise of investment in infrastructure must be delivered to help the construction industry in 2013.

She said that action rather than words is now required and has also called for fellow construction companies to work together in a bid to get the sector growing again.

White said: “Everyone in our industry applauded the Autumn Statement’s commitment to infrastructure spending but we need to see it happen as early as possible.

“Of course, that investment will filter out to companies in the supply chain but I don’t want to get to this time next year and be saying the same things over and over again. I want action not words.

“We need to get Britain building if the construction industry is going to be lifted out of the recession it has been suffering for many years now. It’s vital that money is directed to shovel ready projects rather than talking about things like HS2 which are some way off in the future.

“D-Drill is very busy and we have diversified into other areas of operation to ensure we maintain the growth we want to achieve as a company.

Pic: D-Drill has moved into 3D concrete scanning

“But the construction industry has to work together throughout the supply chain and help one another.

“It’s no good our suppliers hiking prices because our clients want jobs done for less, not more. If everyone continues to squeeze in that way, we are only going to cause irreparable damage to our industry.

“We all have to make a margin and we all understand that we have to work harder and harder to achieve that but, equally, we all have to be realistic with one another.

Pic: D-Drill has also diversified into fire-stopping

“I believe 2013 could see an improvement but it’s vital that the money earmarked for infrastructure is pumped into projects that are ready to go and provides a boost for our industry and, on top of that, our industry has to work together.”

Pic: D-Drill launched a cracking & seating division in 2012

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White On the Money – again!

D-Drill managing director Julie White was a guest on two major national broadcasts at the weekend.

First, she could be heard on the Radio Five airwaves in Sunday evening’s On The Money.

That was followed by an appearance on the BBC News Channel’s Show Me the Money programme.

During the shows, Julie talked about diversifying the business by launching concrete scanning and fire-stopping divisions for D-Drill.

She could also be heard showing off her Russian speaking skills!

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