Into the Spotlight, sponsored by Huddersfield-based Scriba PR, is a new weekly feature – online every Thursday – which highlights lesser known businesses that generally go under the radar. Here we highlight SMITH BROTHERS, a high-voltage electrical engineering firm supporting talent in the region
Tucked away inside Elland’s Lowfields Business Park, you’d be forgiven for being unaware that some of the UK’s leading renewable energy projects – and high-voltage connections – are being co-ordinated from inside this unassuming HQ.
With satellite offices in Sheffield and Dublin, it wasn’t always this way for the Smith Brothers team. From humble beginnings as HV contractors working from the back of their van, founders Richard and John Smith have seen vast changes within the company and the industry, over the last two decades.
In fact, the past 20 years has been an era of significant change for the global energy market. Green power targets have called for a shake-up within the industry – and the ability to adapt and diversify has been central to Smith Brothers’ success.
The company’s aim has always been to be the ‘go to’ Independent Connections Provider (ICP) and it is now amongst the top three providers in the country. Investing strongly in resources has enabled Smith Brothers to be a market leader in the delivery of EHV (extra high voltage – 66kv – 132kv) turnkey projects, which now play a significant role in growing the business.
Throughout all of this, day-to-day operations are still overseen by the brothers, and the company has evolved into a truly family firm. For those not on the family tree, the senior management team places an equal amount of emphasis on creating a positive culture and is proud of its high levels of staff retention.
The firm is growing at a rate of knots too, and is actively recruiting for a number of positions throughout the business – from fitters and jointers, to project managers and designers.
Yet despite their growth, it’s fair to say the journey has not always been straightforward for the Smith Brothers team. Transition in the demand for various types of energy, skills shortages and of course, Brexit, all play a part.
Dave Ogden, managing director, explained: “When Smith Brothers was first formed, the industry relied heavily on fossil fuel technology, but now we’re hurtling towards a greener future. Of course, we’ve experienced skills shortages within the engineering sector, but have succeeded in encouraging talent through a range of apprenticeship and training schemes.
“We’ve come a long way since those early days of two brothers working out of the back of a van, and 20 years in business is certainly an achievement to be proud of. But now it’s a case of what’s next!”
The award-winning Yorkshire brand now has all eyes on the future. Independent Connection Provider (ICP) and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) statuses are sure to be driving forces behind their success.
“Being an ICP and an EPC is a great selling point for us,” he said. “The removal of renewables subsidies pulled the proverbial rug from under us in 2016 – as what used to account for 80% of our revenue was called into question – but by diversifying into heavy industry, maintenance, gas-peaking, and battery technology we continued to flourish during that difficult period for the renewables industry.
“Of course, with the goal of closing coal-fired power stations by 2025, the country will need to learn how to cope all over again. There will be pressure to evaluate the state of our network – and its efficiencies. Add to that increased uptake in electric vehicles (EV), and the government needs to find a way to meet the demand for the required supporting infrastructure.”
Operating in varied sectors including commercial and industrial, renewables and water treatment, the Smith Brothers roster includes major nationwide utilities providers, local SMEs, construction partners, and blue-chip brands, including Kellogg’s, Jaguar Land Rover and United Utilities, to name just a few.
To see the firm’s current vacancies, visit: https://www.smithbrothersltd.co.uk/careers/