Just Eat, Brew Dog and Bridgeway Consulting. It’s not often you get to group a takeaway delivery service, a craft brewery and a diverse rail industry contractor but that’s what the London Stock Exchange has done in its publication ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2017’. The annual report features the country’s ‘greatest prospects for building a resilient and productive economy’, according to its CEO Xavier Rolet, and for the second year running Bridgeway Consulting has featured.
According to the report – which is based on a number of key financial indicators – Bridgeway Consulting is outperforming its UK sector peers. The company has worked on high-profile projects such as the Thameslink Programme, Crossrail and HS2, covering a multitude of services from geomatics, site and ground investigations, training, underwater inspection and rope access. It’s high praise for the firm, whose co-founder and managing director Pino De Rosa was invited to 10 Downing Street as part of the award presentation earlier this year, but it’s not the only recognition the company has received.
Flying the flag for rail
On her Majesty’s 91st birthday, Bridgeway Consulting was one of 12 companies to be awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of sustainable development. It was a proud moment, says Pino, and it’s allowed them to – quite literally – fly the flag for rail from its Nottingham HQ.
‘It’s a great accolade,’ says Pino. ‘And we’re the only company in the East Midlands area to win the award for sustainable development. For both awards it’s recognition that we can contribute to stimulating the local and UK economy and creating not just jobs but careers.’ Pino says the Queen’s Award came as a surprise but that the company never rests on its laurels.
‘Everything’s got to evolve, you can’t just sit there and be complacent. It’s all about pushing yourself every day,’ he adds, touching on why the company has been successful. ‘People are a key part of sustainability and Bridgeway is a relatively young business. It’s important to us and it’s important for the rail industry because it’s got a lot of big projects and the age profile is generally the wrong side of 40 or 50. For us it’s about building that next generation of engineers, managers, supervisors and team members.’
The latest piece of the jigsaw to Bridgeway’s success is innovation, driven by its mantra: ‘if you don’t disrupt your own business somebody else will’.
In January, Bridgeway Aerial was established following the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in UAV Services firm AM-UAS. The new Civil Aviation Authority approved branch of the business has a licence to survey over Network Rail infrastructure and offers a range of services, from high-resolution aerial inspections and 4K filming to 3D modelling, LiDAR, thermal imaging and photogrammetry.
‘Another big part of sustainable development is our ability to look at opportunities and acquisitions,’ adds Pino. ‘We saw the dynamics of data collection from the air and the fact that it takes us into different markets other than rail. From three people in 1995 to 600 staff now, Bridgeway has constantly evolved and the more services it adds, the broader the offering to our clients and the bigger the business gets.’
Safe work leaders
One of its diverse services is the provision of training, such as the recent Safe Work Leader (SWL) refresher programme awarded by Network Rail. This required the training of 4,500 workers from around 300 organisations across Britain, a significant logistics challenge made even more challenging due to the 16-week time frame.
‘This was a first for Bridgeway and a great example of the company pulling together its varied skills to provide an effective and innovative solution,’ said Pino, referring to the Octas system it developed especially for the contract to save time and money on booking training events. ‘At its peak, we were training 350 people per week, and we completed it all to a high satisfaction rating within the allotted 16-week period.’
On July 25, the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Sir John Peace, visited Bridgeway’s Nottingham office and in the same month Pino is going to Buckingham Palace to a reception hosted by the Queen herself.
Pino is one of the driving forces behind this ‘disruptive mentality’, equally comfortable challenging his staff as he is them challenging him.
He established the business with two other engineers in 1995 following the privatisation of the railway. It offered underwater diving inspection services to companies such as Railtrack, Amec, Atkins, Mott McDonald and Arup but has since grown. In 2010 – when the turnover was £10 million – Pino became the sole business owner. Its latest reported turnover was £31 million and its Nottingham base is now supported by satellite sites in London Euston, Bristol, Hayes, Oxford, Deptford and West Malling.
Locally, Bridgeway has worked on one of the big projects in the area, the building of the Nottingham Express Transit system, conducting stressing, hot weather precaution works, lifting, packing and maintenance over the last 16 years. But looking ahead it’s HS2 it is concentrating on, with the nearby suburb of Toton being chosen as the East Midlands hub.
‘HS2 is important for the nation and regions and important for us,’ says Pino. ‘I think it will regenerate those areas that were big under-utilised rail hubs, and will be a serious driver for growth for the Midlands Engine and help put our region back on the map. HS2 is obviously a huge project.
‘We’ve got the Queen’s Award for five years, but we will constantly evolve and look at how we can keep exceeding expectations everywhere safely.’