Houlihan & Co’s rich heritage is building a prosperous future 

Houlihan & Co (Houlihan) is celebrating its 50th trading year. Formed in 1972 by John Houlihan, the company has evolved as a market leader, specialising in civil engineering projects throughout London and the South East of England. It delivers housebuilding, civil engineering and concrete frame services across Oxfordshire, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, London, Kent, and Surrey.

With contract values ranging from £750,000 to £20 million, services include groundworks, infrastructure, reinforced concrete frames and ground remediation. The company takes pride in developing long standing client relationships and boasts a reputation for experience and professionalism.

Often acting as principal contractor, Houlihan’s involvement in the first stages of a project enables contract works to get underway swiftly. This is often cost-effective and productive, fundamentally resulting in clients being able to start their project works with clear, clean and safe access that sets the standard for the site for the duration of the contract.

Client-focused approach
As specialists in civil engineering with good client relationships, Houlihan also provides pre-tender assistance. Clients can benefit from the company’s extensive experience and expertise, which proves invaluable during the design and inception stage of a project, particularly in terms of site logistics, programme phasing, value engineering and procurement.

Houlihan’s core business has always been groundworks, roads and sewers, predominantly for the house building sector. The company’s competent and qualified staff and labour offer a full range of economical groundworks services with the knowledge to overcome challenging construction situations. Client focused, Houlihan provides a positive, flexible and innovative approach that enables the delivery of a high-quality product, on time and within budget.

Comprehensive capabilities
With its base in London and the surrounding area, the projects on which the company works can be constrained by the availability of space. Houlihan’s operating radius is approximately 50 miles anywhere from the M25, covering projects located throughout London, the Homes Counties and Oxfordshire. These types of urban locations often dictate building upwards. As a result, Houlihan has continued to grow within this sector to meet the ever-changing requirements of the local area. As such, the business has the professional and technical capabilities to undertake concrete structures up to ten storey frames, alongside basements and retaining walls.

In addition to these proficiencies and guided by its in-house remediation specialists and soil treatment subcontractors, Houlihan can also provide cost efficient solutions on brownfield sites, under its integrated ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 operating systems. The company has the capability and expertise to undertake complex solutions which are cost effective while reducing site disruption. Working to the recommendations of independent environmental consultants, Houlihan assists clients in the removal and recycling of contaminated soils and asbestos containing materials as well as retaining materials in accordance with local authority requirements and guidelines.

Major site infrastructure and Section 278 works are an integral part of a site’s conception and logistics. Houlihan’s highways services range from road construction and resurfacing to mains sewer adaption and street furnishings. As a licensed contractor for most of the local authorities in the South East, Houlihan’s staff are fully qualified to work on the public highway.

With a current yearly turnover of more than £85 million, Houlihan’s workforce of 500-plus is spread over 35-to-40 projects at any one time. Such extensive operations require a stringent approach to health and safety, which is at the forefront of each project from procurement through to the day-to-day activities carried out on site. Houlihan’s dedicated health and safety team is empowered to take a proactive approach to ensure tasks meet client expectations but not at the detriment to the health and safety of the workforce.

Exceeding expectations
Houlihan invests in its employees to ensure all personnel have the qualifications and experience necessary to carry out their duties safely. The company’s tireless work to minimise risk has resulted in levels of on-site management and qualifications that exceed the requirements set out by clients. The workforce is fully compliant with the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and every project has dedicated site management supervisors and temporary works co-ordinators.

Regular in-house training and apprenticeships guidance aids in the progression of construction knowledge which is monitored via an annual auditing process. By engaging directly with its workforce, Houlihan has encouraged behavioural change. As a result, safety in the workplace is ingrained in the company culture and embodied by all employees, from senior management through to site operatives.

Houlihan’s commitment to quality management has enabled the company to meet the criteria set out within ISO 9001 since 2006. Procedural structure and auditing processes underpin the principles on which the company is managed, making the business an industry leader in sustaining its workload to deliver its clients’ requirements in terms of quality, budget and time constraints.

In terms of cutting-edge equipment, the company operates and maintains an ever-increasing fleet of privately owned plant from 20-tonne excavators, dumpers and rollers to engineering equipment and small tools. The plant team manages the transport and logistics of the company fleet ensuring optimum productivity on site whilst complying with current legislation.

Consistent, quality service
Houlihan’s fleet includes more than 50 excavators ranging from 20-tonne-to-one-tonne mini diggers and 60-plus dumpers. The plant and company vehicles are repaired and maintained by its own directly employed plant fitters on site or in its workshop facilities. The plant fitters are also responsible for the repair and maintenance of over 200 items of small plant.

A recent investment, in July 2023, saw Houlihan purchase a fleet of JCB excavators including 11 new JCB 140X tracked excavators and two new 16-tonne JS160 excavators, all supplied by dealer, Greenshields JCB. A repeat JCB X Series customer, the new additions take the groundworks specialist’s total machine line-up to more than 30 JCB machines. Houlihan works with most leading housebuilding firms operating in the South East and the new JCB excavators will be used for road, drainage and foundation work on its new build developments across the region.

“We chose to invest in JCB based on a superb relationship built over many years. JCB’s service and support is second to none which demonstrates not only its passion and commitment to its products but also to its customer base as well,” commented Richard Knight, Managing Director of Houlihan & Co in a recent press release.

“JCB’s research and development work for the X Series range has resulted in a great product and it is clear the company has listened to its customers. We received great feedback from the market, and we recognised the enhanced build and material quality the new X Series machines bring.

“Performance of the excavators has been excellent, as has the feedback from our operators who have highlighted improved comfort, control and stability which give them real confidence in the machine.”

Looking to the future, Houlihan is set to continue on its growth trajectory, providing consistent, quality services to the civils sector.