Training investment helps to beat the recession

This article is reproduced from the April 2010 edition of the People Management in Wales Newsletter.

Celtic Process Control of Newport, is surviving the recession and winning new business thanks to its highly-motivated and trained staff.

CPC logoCeltic Process Control has kept its team of 65 staff and even secured more contracts during the economic downturn, boosting its turnover by 25% to over £3 million in the last year.

The company provides instrument, electrical and mechanical process control engineering solutions to the water and waste water industries. One of its main customers is the Asset Management Alliance (AMA) of Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water.

Managing Director David Morgan with Ann Holloway receiving the certificate of recognition from John Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Skills, AM for Newport East, at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff

Chief executive of Celtic Process Control, David Morgan, explains: “We’ve had a good year, although obviously it’s been tough and we’ve had to dig deeper for extra efficiencies to become more competitive.”

“Many of our competitors have struggled to win contracts with diminishing workloads and a downward pressure on margins, but our workload has not reduced as we are able to use workforce innovation and efficiencies to help offset industry-wide margin reductions.”

Celtic Process Control, established in the 1970s, has invested heavily in training and development over the past decade and it is this, David says, that is helping the company succeed through the downturn.

“For me the key thing about this company is that it is managed and run by the employees. There is a lot of scepticism out there about this way of working but it is how we do things and it is helping us to survive the recession.”

“All our staff contribute towards improving the way we work. It’s those at the sharp end that see where we can make savings, not people at their desks. Their ideas, a lot of small contributions, have helped us to make huge savings which mean we have become even more competitive. This means we are still winning new contracts.”

IIP logoCeltic Process Control achieved Leadership and Management status in April 2009, one of the most demanding achievements in Investors in People, helped by HRD Advisor Ann Holloway.

In November 2009 the company also won the prestigious Welsh Region Institute of Water Innovation Award in the People Development category.

“The investment in training we have made, supported by the Welsh Assembly Government, has been excellent and has really paid off for us. Working towards the Leadership and Management status totally changed the way we run the company and really improved communication across the teams.”

“We’re extremely proud of our workforce and have one of the lowest staff turnover rates within the contracting industry.”

Another key reason for the company’s success, David believes, is that it has started offering broader skills and services to the industry: “We have a wealth of skills here in our teams and we have started offering new services to our customers, such as project management and turnkey solutions. This has been another important way in which we have maintained our position in the industry.”

“I’m confident about the future. Water was one of the last industries to go into recession and I think we will be lagging behind a bit, but ultimately it is essential work which needs to be done.”

“Our core focus will continue to remain in Wales, however we are keen to target our neighbouring water companies too; ultimately we would like a broader spectrum of contracts.”

“We also continue to invest in training our staff as this seeds innovation; it’s not about ticking a box, we must improve the way we do things on an ongoing basis to keep up-to-date and remain competitive."