The perfect fit-out
One of the UK’s leading mechanical services contractors, Indoor Climate Systems is delivering ‘snag-free, defect-free projects, on-time and on budget’ across the UK
Providing a complete mechanical service, from design through to construction, Indoor Climate Systems (ICS) brings buildings to life. Operating in its current state since 1994, the company has grown from a small £600,000 business into a major force in the industry with an annual turnover of £16 million.
Based in Lapworth, Warwickshire, ICS specialises in the provision of building services to the commercial office fit out industry, predominantly undertaking CAT A and CAT B mechanical services work in the city of London and Thames valley region. Privately-owned and run by engineers, the company maintains a high rate of repeat business.
“Our company ethos is very much focused on project delivery and quality engineering expertise,” states MD Steve Blundell. “Internally, we employ our own designers, contract managers and commercial managers/directors, who, collectively, have over 200 years of onsite project management and installation experience.
“This industry is all about relationships, and the business is all about people,” he continues. “Our sales team have been working in the sector for a long time now and there is a shared philosophy across the ICS business. I think in terms of our workforce, we have only lost around three team members in ten years, so our staff retention rate is fantastic. We like to see people rewarded for their efforts and retain the talent that has helped us grow. The strengths and qualities of our staff and the quality of the projects we deliver ensure that we are always at the forefront of our key clients’ minds.”
ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified, as well as a member of Constructionline, ICS is proud to boast preferred contractor status with a number of its major clients. With all CAD and design work performed in-house by qualified mechanical engineers, the business has become renowned for creating the ideal, cost-effective, controlled environment for the end-user.
“When it comes to our core activities, at present, we undertake project design and management of all aspects of mechanical services, which could include heating, cooling, ventilation, air conditioning, building management systems, public health and domestic water systems,” Steve reports. “We can then take that through to the commissioning and final handover stage.”
Of course, ICS is well aware that a project’s journey does not end with handover and, as a result, the firm’s post-project department closely monitors all aspects of aftercare and post-handover support. In an ever-changing environment, Steve believes it is the flexibility and the capacity to adapt to complex market issues that sets successful construction businesses apart from the rest.
“It’s all about delivery in commercial fit-outs,” Steve asserts. “A project end date generally cannot change because there are so many people depending on you meeting that date, so you have to make sure that things are delivered and that they are handed over on-time and without defects. At ICS, this is what we always set out to do.”
One important contributing factor to enable this level of reliability is the firm’s celebrated ‘Take Time’ initiative. “Take Time has been developed by our Projects Director, Matt Round, and is based around the idea that, before we actually get started on a project, we need to stand back, take time, and rather than doing things two or three times, do the work properly, do it right, and, consequently, do it only once,” Steve explains. “In short, that is the whole Take Time approach – doing things right the first time.”
Among a long list of significant projects completed by the company during the course of its history, ICS counts refurbishment work carried out for Qantas in Chiswick and for Croydon Borough Council’s Integrated Children’s Hub, as well as a £1.6 million design, build and seven-floor fit-out for Fora in London.
More recently, in the summer of 2021, ICS won a number of new contracts. In July 2021, for instance, ICS was awarded the opportunity to deliver the mechanical fit-out works at Westminster Bridge, for a leading commercial office client. This was followed by another £1 million contract for a mechanical fit-out project at St James’ Square, London.
“We have taken on three major projects over the last three months with some of the top ten fit-out contractors in London,” Steve says. “All three of these contracts are valued in excess of £1 million. It’s been a nice way to cap off a difficult 18 months in which we have experienced the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic side-by-side.
“Back at the start of 2020, there was a knee-jerk reaction when the first lockdown came into place. We work with many top fit-out contractors in London and everyone took a few weeks to step back and look at the way we could manage sites properly. Obviously, the first thing in everyone’s mind was the safety of their employees and a couple of our clients came up with innovative ways to manage the processes during the pandemic. For example, in Cambridge, one customer set out a two-metre grid all over the building so that people working there could maintain social distancing.
“Three weeks after the Covid-19 outbreak,” Steve continues, “we were pretty much back up to 100 percent in terms of working. It was difficult, we were having to bring people in via our own transport, deliver them to the site and take them home again, but the company remained resilient throughout and turnover has been completely stable during the whole period.”
With the worst of the pandemic, and the widespread disruption that accompanied it, almost in the past, the construction sector, Steve suggests, is buoyant. As we move into the final third of 2021, ICS is already looking forward to substantial growth.
“We are looking for 10 percent growth this year, taking us up towards £18 million in turnover. Additionally,” Steve remarks, “we hope to acquire a service and maintenance business, and importantly, expand our JV partnerships with other specialists in the industry, such as electrical and BMS companies.”
In support of its ambitious future plans, in June 2021, ICS was the subject of a management buyout. As well as providing the company with additional funds, the move will enable ICS to underpin its succession chain and allow the senior members of the team to benefit from the growth of the company that they now have a stake in.
“The management buyout (MBO), involved five members of the existing ICS team who have been with the company for varying lengths of time between eight and 25 years,” Steve notes. “We always knew that we needed a succession chain below senior management level, so the business went out to the market, raised some capital, and that has been used to buy out an outgoing Director, who has retired, as well as retiring shareholders. The MBO team then continued in their place.
“The team – Head of Pre-Construction, Patrick Tea; degree-qualified engineers Tom Newell and Ben Revell; Operations Director Tony Fletcher; and Paul Carter, who delivers larger projects – are all stakeholders in the business with an interest in its success, growth and future. They all have different strings to their bows and they all have major roles to play. Everyone on that team looks after their own areas of the business so that the Senior Directors, Matt Round and myself, are free to undertake our respective Business Development and Commercial Director roles.”
Over the course of its history, ICS has built a healthy portfolio of repeat business with clients and consultants due to the company’s ability to provide a high level of service, create professional environments and deliver quality installations. As the firm looks to break the £18 million barrier through organic and acquisition-based growth, ICS now aims to continue delivering high-quality projects, while further expanding its Service and Maintenance Division.
“As far as the next year or so goes, we have a forum of clients that I speak to regularly and they are all experiencing an unprecedented volume of enquiries at present,” Steve says in closing. “The whole sector is buoyant, and we are looking to secure as much of that business as we can. It is an exciting time to be in commercial office fit-outs. The future looks bright.”
Indoor Climate Systems
Services: Mechanical services contractor