With over five decades of experience in the construction and building maintenance industry, the name R&M Williams Building Group has become synonymous with exceptional workmanship and a commitment to local communities. The Cardiff and Neath-based group generates a combined turnover of circa £30 million, and with a workforce of over 200 skilled operatives, R&M prioritises local labour, ensuring that services are delivered by and for the local people. The company’s unwavering dedication to apprenticeships and work-based training showcases its commitment to nurturing talent and investing in the future of the industry. Martyn Morris, Commercial Director, sheds some light on R&M’s history.
“R&M has been operating for over 55 years. The company was founded as a painting and decorating business in Porth, by Ron Williams and his wife, Fay. Ron represented the ‘R’ in the business name, while the ‘M’ stands for Mark, his son, who has been involved in the business throughout his entire working life. In the late 1980s, the company ventured into local authority maintenance work, then, in the early 2000s, became involved in larger planned maintenance schemes with local housing associations and councils, in accordance with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, in which R&M invested heavily. From there, Mark developed and grew the construction arm of the business.
“Presently, we have three main facets: the trade arm, which focuses on painting; the maintenance arm, which handles both reactive and planned maintenance; and the construction arm. Our customer base primarily consists of local authorities, housing associations, universities, health boards, airports, and shopping centres to name but a few. R&M operates predominantly in Wales as well as the Hereford, Gloucester, Bristol, Bath and Swindon areas.
“The business has successfully grown and developed over the past 15 years, during which time we entered our 50th year of trading. The board had set a goal to achieve a turnover of £50 million, which was accomplished.
“Currently, our turnover ranges between £30 million and £35 million, which is quite substantial, especially in the very buoyant and flooded South Wales market. We employ approximately 150-to-200 operatives, and 50 team members, and additionally, we have a supply chain and agencies that we regularly work with,” he begins.
As the company continues its growth journey, Martyn recounts some of R&M’s most remarkable construction projects. “One of our most valuable projects was initiated in the aftermath of the tragic Grenfell incident. We were among the first contractors in Wales to address the issue of unsafe cladding, working closely with Newport City Homes and the Welsh Government to reclad three tower blocks in Newport. This project was funded by the Welsh Government, and we maintained a close collaboration with Newport City Homes and other government agencies throughout the duration of the project. The system we implemented there has been recognised as best practice by both the Welsh Government and Central Government, with Local & Central Fire Authorities visiting us to witness the excellent system we developed. Essentially, we were able to provide a comprehensive history of each cladding panel, providing details about its origin and the processes involved in its fabrication and installation.
“Swansea City Council is also a major client of ours, and our projects with them encompass a range of works, such as environmental improvements, kitchen and bathroom renovations, responsive maintenance, and rewiring projects. Indeed, we are currently working on the Swansea Palace Theatre project, a grade II listed building that hosted stars like Charlie Chaplin and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was built in 1888, but has been left empty and derelict since 2006, and we have been employed to fully restore the building’s iconic façade and fully refurbish and modernise the interior into community offices and retail space.
“Another major aspect of our operations is our extensive work within Cardiff University. Marc Gilder and his team delivered this refurbishment project (which had a value of £7 million-to-£9 million) in a ten-to-12-week period. It was a mammoth task and an enormous accomplishment. The work they undertook included renewing kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, upgrading and refurbishing fire doors and sprinkler installations and installing new fire stopping measures,” he adds.
Looking to the future, Martyn shares his hopes and aspirations for the business. “We aim to expand our current client database and prioritise further housing, educational and health board maintenance contracts and frameworks, cladding renewals and also optimised retrofit projects as a significant part of our business going forward. Overall, our aim is to become the client’s contractor of choice.
“We are also focusing and investing in the new optimised retrofit schemes to promote sustainable living, incorporating elements such as whole house insulation solutions, air source heat pumps and solar photovoltaic systems.
“We are currently already in the process of getting PAS 2030 and 2035 accredited across a number of retrofit solutions at present. The cladding market remains a significant part of our plans as well, and recently we have been awarded two very substantial renewal contracts in Swansea and Bristol.
Championing equality and diversity
“Additionally, we are looking to increase female representation in the industry. While we have already started working on that, the numbers are still insufficient. We have recently employed Freya Church as our Social Value Manager, as well as supporting the development of Lauren and Jess. They were initially employed as admin support on our sites and are developing into Client & Design Team Relationship Managers. We also have a QS by the name of Nicola, who started working with us ten years ago as an Accounts Clerk, primarily handling invoicing duties. However, when she expressed an interest in pursuing a degree in commercial management, we supported her and sponsored her through the programme. Today, she manages her own projects, both commercially and operationally, on the maintenance side of the business. Her journey exemplifies our commitment to investing in and nurturing female talent,” he highlights.
Going forward, R&M remains committed to innovation in safety, as Martyn concludes. “We have recently invested in new IT apps and processes to support our team in how we deliver safety across the region, pioneering projects, and skills development. R&M is certain to bolster communities across Wales for decades to come.”