AUTHOR: Ian Vickers, Managing Director for Construction Home Counties
“Despite being a national organisation, every Wates Construction project is local. Whether a commercial office development, new school or leisure facility, the schemes we build ultimately take root within the surrounding local community and have a tangible impact upon the built environment and local economy.
Our approach to construction is also local. This is driven by our commitment to deliver projects which leave behind a legacy of positive community benefits. From man-power to materials, purchasing locally has consistently shown to have a significant financial impact on a community. Smallbusiness.co.uk cites that for every £10 spent locally, a further £50 is put back into the local economy, reinforcing the principle that guides us here at Wates.
As a result, our project teams are locally-led wherever possible and, often, specialist skills, services or materials required are procured within a measured mile radius.
As well as engaging the local business community, investing in social enterprises is also normal procedure in the delivery of our projects. Social enterprises inherently have a community benefit as their primary purpose is to meet a local social need – engaging with them as part of a local supply chain therefore contributes to our local impact and the overall sustainability of our projects.
Of course, sustainability starts by ensuring we are awarding contracts responsibly. While we want to engage with SMEs wherever possible, it would be negligent to award a contract to a small entity that doesn’t have the resources or experience to deliver. So we set the bar high when it comes to our supply chains and work hard to ensure the businesses we partner with are the right fit for a project and share our values. Awarding contracts based on a business’ ability to demonstrate a level of manageable, steady growth is what helps us to ensure we are being fair and respectful towards the entire community.
Of course, using local suppliers brings more to a community than monetary value alone – fundamentally, local spend is an investment in people; resulting in training and employment opportunities. When people are empowered, paid well and engaged in their community, they not only stimulate the economy, they give back themselves.
We also understand that providing opportunities for a supply chain to integrate, nurtures an environment of collaboration that lasts beyond our tenure on site, so we do what we can to facilitate this. We hold regular Meet the Buyer events to connect local businesses both to us and to one another and as a key partner in the Supply Chain Sustainability School, we host surgeries that give our suppliers the tools to forge their own local relationships outside of their work with Wates Construction.
I have spent years working across the Home Counties and South of England and strive to leave a lasting legacy on every project we work on. I’m proud to have created a network of relationships with local suppliers and subcontractors that have resulted in added value for local communities and contributed to a more sustainable built environment. This is why buying local is built into everything we do here at Wates.”
Ian Vickers is Managing Director of Wates Construction Home Counties.