VALUES

Every organisation can list its values on its website or brochure, but it does not make them part of the company’s ethos.

Values cannot be dictated by a senior management team, or drawn up by a consultant. They must be evident in the way the company’s employees and managers act on a day to day basis.

We feel that our values demonstrate that our desire to be a commercially successful construction company can be combined with a forward thinking approach that is very different from the traditional view of the construction industry.

QUALITY

Quality is not only important in terms of the product offered to clients but it provides job satisfaction and a focus for everyone within the company.

It is a fundamental Sandwood belief that everyone wants to produce their best and will do so given the right environment and encouragement. It is management’s role to provide that environment.

We consider all our employees to be members of our quality management team, and that the key to quality is a committed, employed labour force and experienced and motivated subcontractors.

We have many ways of encouraging involvement and commitment through participation, communication, profit share, social and scheme opening events, celebrating the achievement of each scheme.

PARTNERING

Partnering/collaborative working was the way Sandwood operated before Rethinking Construction made the term fashionable. It continues to be our approach now.

Partnering is an attitude of mind, not a form of contract. To be genuine, it needs to be as evident in the company’s treatment of its subcontractors, suppliers and employees as it is with its clients. A contractor who chooses its subcontractors on the basis of lowest prices, and its workforce on the cheapest short term agency rates, is unlikely to adopt a genuine partnership approach to its clients.

As evidence of our commitment, we would point to our policies on long term employment, our partnered subcontractors and suppliers, and our 15 year long association with the Peabody Trust. Our business is planned on the basis of being ‘the contractor of choice’ for a small number of clients and we adopt a long term non adversarial approach in pursuit of that aim.

RESPECT FOR PEOPLE

Direct employment of a stable workforce is key to Sandwood’s construction philosophy. Our fundamental belief is that it matters who constructs our buildings and that you cannot produce a quality product with untrained staff working in unsanitary conditions.

Respect for people starts with recognising people’s skills, their strengths and their differences. In Sandwood, that recognition starts with the simple task of keeping staff informed of progress and future workload, and includes:

  1. holding regular meetings in company time.
  2. listening to and acting on feedback.
  3. operating a profit share scheme that distributes 25% of company profits equally between all staff.
  4. giving all employees the opportunity to view and celebrate the completion of buildings they have worked on.

Sandwood scored a Level 4 in the Investors in People review category ‘Recognition and Reward’ – the highest level – a score the Investors in People assessor described as:

An outstanding, forward-thinking, equitable and motivational approach to reward and recognition.

A level associated with world class organisations

To achieve this within the construction industry is really exceptional.

It is clear that people feel valued, appreciate this fact, and in return show a great deal of loyalty to and passion for the organisation.

More simply, one of our employees described Sandwood as,

“The best firm I’ve ever worked for. Why? Because they look after their people.”

DIVERSITY

Diversity is not just about ethnicity or gender but recognises and appreciates differences and individuality. However the former two are relatively easy to measure. At Sandwood, 9% of our London workforce is from ethnic minority backgrounds; 13% are female. At site level we now have three female operatives, two carpenters and one decorator, the most recent of these recruits being Sarah Jones. Sarah, a mother of two from West London, was a BTEC Level 2 Bench joinery student at Acton and West London College when she was chosen from a group of apprentices for full time employment with Sandwood as a carpenter.
Sarah is pictured with Sandwood’s Construction Manager James Millen on the left and Martin Walsh, our foreman decorator, on the right.
It is clear from the statistics that we have much to do and we are taking further steps to address some of these imbalances. Through our involvement with Barking and particularly West London College, we are involved in recruiting more women site workers through work experience and apprenticeships, and we are having some success. At site manager and trainee site manager level, the availability of good quality ethnic minority candidates has improved significantly but there does seem to be a lack of ethnic minority applicants for trade apprenticeships.

We are looking at ways we can address the problem through our recruitment and selection process.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sandwood does not pretend to be a ‘green’ company, any more than construction can be considered an environmentally friendly operation. Along with the majority of people however, we are convinced by the case for global warming, and recognise that this is not the only environmental problem that needs to be addressed. We feel that everyone and every organisation has a responsibilty to contribute to finding solutions. The following are some of the steps we are taking to address these issues.

Understanding – before we can design and build environmentally friendly buildings we need to understand what makes a ‘green’ building. How does an environmentally friendly product shipped half way round the world compare to a less environmentally product sourced locally? What is the most effective renewable technology for a given site? Should we be looking at low flush WCs, flow restrictions or small baths before grey water recycling; cavity insulation and build quality before wind turbines?

We have tried to improve our level of understanding by becoming one of the few contractor members of the Green Register and being one of the first to sign up for the UK Green Building Council. We have held on site training events for our staff, clients and contractors and have actively sought opportunities to become involved in sustainable projects.

Waste Management – waste management starts in our offices with paper and cardboard recycling and is being extended through the company via our in house waste management working group, which brings together people from all areas of the company.

Procurement – we are one of the very few contractors to hold Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody. Sandwood are the only company to construct two new buildings that qualifies as an FSC labelled product. Our experiences on these projects (Boatemah Walk and Angela Carter Close) were used to develop the less onerous standards for the “FSC Project” status that has been introduced recently. Sandwood will continue to work to the higher standards.

Innovation and Development – we believe the best way to learn about sustainable techniques and processes is to implement them, so we encourage their use on all our schemes. To date, apart from the use of FSC timber noted above, our schemes have included photovoltaic roofs, solar thermal, CHP, organic paints and rainwater harvesting. We are particularly keen to use ground source heat pump technology on future schemes. We started air permeability testing before it became a requirement and are looking to revise construction details in a number of areas to secure improvements.

EcoHomes/Code for Sustainable Homes – we have our own in-house EcoHomes and Code for Sustainable Homes assessors and have achieved an ‘Excellent’ rating on five projects to date – Boatemah Walk, 432 Merton Road, 143-149 Merton Road, Angela Carter Close and Rossiter Grove (St Johns Crescent).

We are also able to provide the services of a BRE-certified On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor (OCDEA) assessor and we are currently working on a number of Code for Sustainable Homes schemes. Our aim is to make Level 3 our standard output, with higher levels achieved where required. Achieving Level 3 of the Code will be more challenging and has led to the establishment of SDB Environmental, our complete in-house sustainability service. To find out more about what SDB Environmental can do for you, please click here.

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

One of our company values is continuous improvement, with training and development one of the tools used to achieve it. There is a strong commitment to training throughout Sandwood, from apprentices to senior managers, as the only way to achieve the goals and objectives we have set ourselves.

We have training agreements with two colleges, Barking College and College of West London which involves work experience and apprentices. Not only do we currently have 9 trade apprentices but several of our youthful trades people are ex Sandwood apprentices.

Training does not end with formal qualifications. Sandwood is a Chartered Building Company and all of the senior managers are required to undertake a continuous professional development programme.

All our site managers are working towards Membership of the Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB), with the majority having achieved Associate Membership (ACIOB). In addition, all the managers have undergone the CITB 5-days Manager’s Health and Safety training course, are Fire Marshalls, First Aiders, Scaffold Safety Inspectors, and have passed the CSCS Health and Safety test. They have appropriate CSCS cards and have received training in Risk Assessment and Method Statements.

Sandwood’s workforce of carpenters, bricklayers, painters, gangermen and labourers have all received training in Health and Safety, over 75% have achieved CSCS cards and we encourage all our operatives to achieve at least NVQ Level 3.

The company has a training plan for all staff members. Training requirements are discussed at yearly appraisals and appropriate training is arranged as required. All employees are encouraged to undertake relevant training.

Sandwood has also been the subject of a Construction Excellence Demonstration Project. More information can be found by clicking here.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Sandwood considers Health and Safety to be of paramount importance and the provision of safe working conditions for all our employees, subcontractors and visitors as essential. We concentrate not only on the reams of paperwork that is required but on constant improvement of all aspects of Health and Safety, both on our sites and in Head Office. We do this by education; by explaining to everyone why it is important to Sandwood that everyone who works here remains fit and well. We provide induction talks on site, toolbox talks, and external training (CSCS cards).

Sandwood also employ an external independent Health & Safety Consultant to provide up to date specialist advice on all aspects of Health & Safety, and to inspect all our sites on a monthly basis.

In recent years, the emphasis within the construction industry has been more about Safety than Health. Sandwood are trying to re-address the balance and have not only completed several very successful smoking cessation clinics but have introduced annual health checks for all employees. We also provide support to any of our employees who are involved in amateur sport teams.

Our safety record is excellent and we maintain records of all incidents that occur, investigating each one to try and avoid their reoccurrence.

Most of all we listen to our employees’ ideas on improving work practices.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can only have a meaningful existence as an extension of Individual Social Responsibility, as without the genuine commitment of individuals within the company, it can never be any more than window dressing. If a company’s interest in CSR was purely altruistic then there would be no need to seek publicity or even mention it on a web site.

We can have more impact acting ethically within our area of operation than we can by making a donation to a donkey sanctuary. The interest of the directors and employees of Sandwood in the environment is genuine, and leads to a commitment to sustainable building practices but there is also a commercial advantage from the experience gained in an area of great interest to our clients. Our apprenticeship scheme and our attempts to develop a diverse workforce may have community benefits – but they are also the best way to find and keep a high quality, committed workforce.

We have recently introduced an employee volunteering scheme as being the best way for us to contribute to the local community. We encourage our employees to become involved and the company assists by providing small grants to the charity or organisation involved. The scheme has the added advantage that the staff involved can gain new skills through volunteering.

All our sites are registered with Considerate Constructors and a number of our managers have been on courses to improve their understanding and implementation of the scheme.