Jackson Civil Engineering's parent company SEH Group has undergone a change of ownership and a change of name with founder Graham Emmerson taking a back seat after 43 years at the helm. The group has been acquired by a new company, One Group Construction, which is led by Jacksons current Chief Executive Richard Neall. The group, which ranks as one of the largest privately owned construction groups in the UK, employs around 500 people and has annual turnover of more than £100m.
Founded in 1971, the Group today has 12 separate businesses offering a variety of construction services. These individual companies have been both created from scratch and purchased through acquisition, the most notable being that of Jackson Civil Engineering in 2004. After 43 years, Graham Emmerson has opted to take a back seat, and has handed the reigns over to the Group Chief Executive, Richard Neall. In this way, the business has been able to remain in private ownership and on an even keel, which was a key goal for Mr Emmerson.
"It was very important to my family that the Group remained privately owned. Whilst a business of our size must be highly organised, we have proven it doesn't have to be overly corporate or political. We were very keen to keep it that way," said Mr Emmerson.
To the general public, One Group Construction is best known for its windows, doors and conservatories retail business, SEHBAC. But in reality, this only represents a small proportion of what they do. Mr Neall explains: "We've all heard the local radio and television ads for SEHBAC, but it may surprise people to learn the breadth of One Group's capabilities. As well as home improvements, we cover large and medium scale civil engineering projects, property development, commercial and residential building, construction equipment hire, infrastructure surfacing, commercial glazing, energy solutions, house building, ground works and everything in between".
"To give you an idea, our large scale Civil Engineering firm Jackson regularly works on nationally significant construction projects, such as the Olympics, major flood protection schemes for the Environment Agency, as well as working on the UK busiest motorway, the M25. On a more local scale, our building construction company SEH French is currently building a new sixth-form centre at Framlingham College, which is due to open in September, whilst Emmitt Plant hired out over 10,000 individual pieces of equipment last year."
Although the past few years have been extremely difficult for the construction industry, there is now a real confidence that the sector is starting to turn a corner. In February 2014, construction activity in the UK grew at its fastest rate since August 2007, with near-record growth in the house building and civil engineering sectors. One Group Construction is already feeling the benefits of this upturn, and therefore has great confidence in its future.
Mr Neall said: "As a business we're in a really good place. We are financially strong and the market is showing real life. All political parties are now acknowledging the importance of committing funds to infrastructure improvements and the private sector is also rapidly gaining the confidence to invest. It's never easy in construction, but the signs are very positive at the moment".