Blackpool specialist construction firm aims for £75m turnover despite lockdown

A Blackpool building services engineering company is set to hit the £75m turnover barrier in a year when three months were lost due to lockdown.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 7:54 am

Whitehills-based Ameon has seen its busiest year ever with demands for high rise projects growing in city areas.

Despite most construction projects being paused from the end of March for many weeks, the firm has seen demand soar and is already hopeful of securing a further £50m in projects for next year.

The firm moved to units nine and ten at the Whitehills site in 2009 a year after the worst effects of the global economic crash put the breaks on construction worldwide.

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Ameon engineers have been busy on big city high rise developments

Prior to 2007 it had developed a reputation as being an expert in high rise developments. But as city projects stalled it was busy in the education sector, including being called in to work on a raft of projects for high schools and universities such as Lancaster.

When the high rise market picked up again in 2015 Ameon saw demand rocket once more. Now it occupies units six to 11 at Whitehills and its office staff has grown from 26 to 75. And together with its on-site teams has created 100 new jobs this year including apprenticeships.

It is working on a £25m project on the Liverpool water front, two hotels at Manchester Airport, a new sports science facility at Manchester University, and at Preston’s Park Hotel.

Managing director Robin Lawson said many of the people in top roles at the company started off as tradesmen and apprentices.

Ameon carries out a wide range of building services functions and specialises in low carbon builds using such things as ground source heat pumps, solar panels, specialist insulation as well as air conditioning and electricity supply

He said: “We are a bit of a hidden industry. I went to a careers event at my daughter’s school AKS and I had to try hard to attract their attention, but actually the stuff we do is very techie.

“Control systems, air conditioning systems are about as hi-tech as anything.

"I was like them and did not know what I wanted to do. I got a job as a heating and ventilation design engineer at T Jolly Services in Preston and found I loved it.

“I went on to do a degree at UCLan. Seven of our engineers here did theirs at Preston and 80 per cent of the got firsts. We have three currently on that degree course at Preston. UCLan has been a big influence on this business as has Blackpool and the Fylde College.

Robin Lawson

"Our contracts director was a duct fitter, our commercial director was a pipe fitter's mate when he started here, our health and safety director was a duct fitter, so training and progression is a big thing for us. We are looking to train apprentices who will become our core workers, our future site supervisors.

He said the firm generally trains its own staff who then tend to stay with them for a long time because of the wide variety of work the firm does.

“We have just taken on 12 apprentices and we are still looking for two mechanical engineer apprentices.”

"We really keep ourselves at the forefront of technology in the sector. In the design side of things we have introduced the latest 3D technology, modelling of projects. We can show a client through a VR headset and walk them through the build.

"And we are ahead of the curve on building regulations with carbon reduction targets. At Lancaster University we did their engineering building that had to achieve BREAM outstanding standard, which is 40 per cent better than standard building regulations. We have an in-house design department which is unusual.But it allows us to control the flow of information and hit deadlines on time."

As subcontractors to major contractors on major projects, Ameon has worked on Crown Plaza Hotel Manchester, City Living where Pep Guardiola has an apartment at the end of Deansgate, it did the power supply to Anfield and the Old Trafford cricket ground. It has carried out work for the Saracens rugby club and Total Fitness Clubs all round the country.