How PMC Construction puts people and planet at the heart of its operations

PMC Construction and Development Services Ltd (PMC) has been building affordable and sustainable communities for 41 years. With extensive experience in the construction industry, PMC has spent many years working closely with local councils, registered providers, developers and asset managers to deliver fantastic residential and commercial projects. Steve Cripps, Managing Director, shares the company’s story behind its continued success.

“PMC was formed 41 years ago by Pat Mcgee who remains involved. I’ve been with the company for 39 of those, helping to gradually build it up to where it is today. We began with a modest turnover of a few hundred thousand pounds and have since grown to a turnover of approximately 60 million. Unlike many of our competitors, our company employs individual subcontractors and permanent staff, rather than relying primarily on subcontractors. This approach has allowed us to maintain control over training programmes and the community initiatives on which we collaborate with various groups.

Sustainability commitment
“When we started, our work spanned multiple disciplines, including office conversions, healthcare and university campus improvements. However, in the past decade, we have focused on residential projects and rarely deviate from this path, focusing primarily on social housing. We do handle a small amount of commercial work and work closely with Portsmouth Football Club. Nonetheless, much of our business turnover comes from residential projects, and sustainability is a top priority for us. We’ve always pushed the boundaries to achieve the highest levels of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for our properties and continue to do so. Our main clients are government bodies, housing associations, and local authorities, although we also serve some private rented sector companies,” he explains.

Since 1982, PMC has developed housing and commercial schemes that are built to last. As a private business, it prioritises long-term quality over short-term profitability, and because there are no shareholders to answer to, the company has greater control over what it does. With a unique team of over 300 professionals, PMC’s innovative and environmentally friendly construction techniques are used to create not only houses, but whole communities. The business supports and provides well-designed, high-quality, sustainable and affordable developments for communities.

“Over the years,” Steve continues, “the owner has demonstrated an unwavering commitment by reinvesting 100 per cent of the profits back into the business, which has contributed significantly to our sustainability as a company. From the very beginning, the owner and I established key principles centred around our direct workforce, employees, and apprentices, fostering a culture of continuous upskilling throughout the company. This approach has consistently set us apart from others, alongside our unwavering commitment to sustainability. We were pioneers in our local area, being the first to construct homes in accordance with Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes approximately a decade ago. This was followed by the development of a carbon-neutral home two years ago. We’ve consistently pushed the boundaries, which has made us stand out in the industry and become an attractive prospect for repeat customers.

From concept to completion
“Collaboration and commitment have been key to the success of our long-standing relationships. We see a project from concept through to completion but also maintain a presence after completion. We don’t complete the project and walk away; we will always attend to resolve any defects during the warranty period. We also maintain a presence within the communities in which we work and strive to offer trainee positions to school leavers and unemployed people.”

The local community is at the heart of everything PMC does. Equally, as a forward-thinking firm, sustainability is ingrained in operational processes. “A couple of years ago, we made a commitment to not have any gas in any of the developments. So, we arrived at a purely electric and renewable product and have been working hard on that model to achieve EPC A ratings. While we continually improve the product and service we offer, it is always a learning curve. A few years ago, I built a house. We decided to make it carbon neutral and use it as a project to work out which products work best, so we could move forward and roll out the tried and tested processes to our customer base. We’ve been recording costs, data and the return on investment for each product to ensure the best outcomes for our clients,” Steve explains.

Onwards and upwards
PMC promotes a culture of community. “We’ve always encouraged family members to come up through the business,” he continues. “We have several generations of the same families working for us, and we try to provide training roles and offer opportunities to those in the communities where we operate. While this goes some way to filling the skills gap, labour shortages are still an issue. Apprenticeships offer one solution, but it’s important to be realistic. For every four apprentices you take on, one will stay with the firm, but maybe three will move on. Upskilling is often a successful alternative. We aim to enrol labourers on a two-to-three-year rolling programme that enables them to be fully trained or skilled in a profession of some sort. In fact, we have a handful of staff who have gone further than that to become assistant site managers.

“We also work with local initiatives in Brighton, Portsmouth, and Southampton, offering opportunities to people who may have experienced difficult circumstances, such as foster care or immigration. Some people have never been given an opportunity before, so while we only have two or three coming through the system each year, we try to take care of them and help them acquire a trade to sustain a future path. Despite the difficulties, we do have some inspiring and motivational success stories. Another of our programmes involves employing people with learning difficulties. While the stories are different, they all share the common thread of upskilling,” he enthuses.

Steve goes on to share some of PMC’s current projects. “We’re presently working on a joint venture between Brighton and Hove City Council to provide affordable homes for local people. To date, we have developed just under 400 of those. In Portsmouth, we regularly work with the council to develop sustainable housing, and as I mentioned briefly earlier, we also work with Portsmouth Football Club. More recently, in partnership with Vivid Housing Association, we took a huge scheme through to planning to bring together 835 homes. Remediation is currently underway.”

Looking to the future, Steve shares that PMC is striving to remain consistent, following the challenges of the last few years and the devastating impact of the pandemic. “We worked on affordable housing programmes throughout the pandemic, so we were able to continue working. It was a challenge to make things stack up economically, but we were able to survive while many others went under. Over the next five years or so, there’s no growth prediction for the business but rather, we’re looking to sustain stability. No doubt, there’ll be more uncertainty to come and potentially, continued high inflation. So, right now, the best course of action is to maintain our secure position in the marketplace. All the challenges we’ve faced over the years have had a humbling effect on us,” he concludes. “It’s been a journey that the owner and I often look back on and are grateful for, and as Pat would say, ‘onwards and upwards’.