Achilles Experience: Elkem centralises its supply chain management with Achilles
Headquartered in Oslo, Elkem is a global leader in the
A major player in the UK flat roofing and specialist waterproofing market, Roofline Group has installed around 12 million m2 of roofing over the past 30 years. Working with some of the country’s biggest contractors, such as Wates, Willmott Dixon, Sir Robert McAlpine and LendLease, the company is an established roofing specialist.
Roofline has been involved in some high-profile projects over the years, including work on Westgate shopping centre, Butlins hotels and the headquarters of heavy hitters like British Airways SSE, Imperial Tobacco, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. The company also leads the way on sustainable building practices as one of the UK’s most prominent green roofing installers.
Roofline’s reputation for excellence is linked to the fact the company does not use any subcontractors. Instead, all its roof installations are performed by its own employees. This strategy clearly marks the company out from its peers and has been an important step in ensuring quality and consistency throughout its operations.
There had been times in the past when Roofline customers had requested the use of subcontractors to perform additional work, distinct from its core services of flat and waterproof roofing, like guttering and metal capping. Because the company had a focus on its own specific areas of expertise, it enlisted subcontractors to complete the work. Even though these contractors were pre-qualified, it was still not enough to ensure that Roofline’s high standards were always met.
“There is nothing more frustrating than delivering your part of a job to a high quality, only to be remembered solely for the parts that didn’t go as well,” according to Roofline’s Commercial Director Steve Marsh.
So, the company decided to focus on building the skills of its employees. This meant committing time and money to training and development and required a third-party partner that could help show the company where improvements could be made to internal processes, as well as adding real operational value.
Roofline is a long-term member of Achilles BuildingConfidence, having gone through the supplier pre-qualification process and becoming accredited 2016. Part of this membership includes yearly audits, which the team at Roofline have found to be incredibly useful in identifying gaps and areas that could be improved.
A five-year plan to invest in developing and training its employees was set out. This would require a significant culture change, and BuildingConfidence would prove to be an important resource. As with any established company, one of the biggest risks is complacency and becoming unable to adapt and grow. The team at Roofline saw BuildingConfidence as a way of making sure that its working practices and employee skills would continue to set it apart from its competitors. By going through the rigorous pre-qualification process, the company would be subject to an increased level of scrutiny.
The business began to focus on building a culture of continuous improvement and so far over 50 members of its workforce have achieved industry qualifications, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to excellence and innovation. An internal training academy was also set up, where two NVQ-qualified assessors hold tailored internal training days. This came with a risk to outputs, as anyone that was attending training would not be out installing roofs.
Steve said, “It was really rewarding. Often, we found that the people that got the most from the training were the guys that had been here the longest. It really helped us identify where we could be working a little smarter and more safely.”
Roofline’s management team saw that the goal was not simply to gain accreditation, but to actively identify where it could make improvements and to put in place the processes needed to make them. Steve remarked, “With Achilles you have to work for your accreditation and I really encourage that. If it’s too easy, then it begins to lose its value.”
As a result of Roofline’s commitment to improving its own workforce, it has cemented its reputation not only as a specialist contractor but as a company that has invested in the future of its workers. Its membership of BuildingConfidence has helped it showcase its capabilities to the right kind of clients and make its operations safer and more efficient too.
An example of this is the company’s approach to Health and Safety (H&S). Previously the company had been outsourcing its H&S reporting to a third-party consultant, who wasn’t able to dedicate the time required as Roofline grew. During one of the Achilles two-day audits, Steve Marsh and his team realised that the company needed to hire their own H&S manager. It was a significant investment, but it has really boosted the company’s internal capabilities.
“Having our own H&S manager in-house gives us the ability to look at risk and method statements and how our policies measure up to the latest regulations or industry standards every single day,” says Steve. “Because they’re part of the team, they understand exactly what is going on within the company, which is something that our previous consultant wasn’t able to do.”
The company now gets weekly H&S reports, helping to ensure that it is always working to protect the health and welfare of its workers. The fact that this change originated from an audit shows the potential value that BuildingConfidence can give suppliers. Buyers, in turn, benefit from better standards and working practices throughout their supply chain.
At Achilles, we pride ourselves on providing real benefits to the companies that join our communities, and Roofline is a testament to the results that can be achieved. “Achilles has such a great reputation across a range of industries that it really helps you demonstrate to clients that you run a robust business,” says Steve. “Another benefit to BuildingConfidence is it has the contractors we want to work with, so it contributes to us winning work and being involved in some great projects.”