Bringing developments to life
Defined by its ‘customer first’ approach, Matrix Networks has enjoyed significant growth in the 12 years of its existence, which resulted in the independent connections provider being named as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2018 by the London Stock Exchange Group
Led by a genuine will to change the electrical distribution market for the better, Chris Mann founded Matrix Networks in 2006 and it did not take long before the independent multi-utility infrastructure solutions provider made its mark within the construction sector. “Chris originally felt a frustration that the needs of the customer were never put first across the industry, so he decided to do something about that, forming Matrix Networks with the objective of giving customers a service-led, better cost option for their utilities,” the company’s Managing Director, Rob Sparkes recalls.
“All three utilities – gas, electricity, and water – share an equal footing within the business, as we provide our solutions primarily to industrial and commercial developments. Our services start right at the design and specification stage, cover liaison with local landowners, and go up to the point where we make the final connections to ‘bring a development to life’,” Rob continues, citing Matrix Networks’ motto. Throughout the 12 years of its existence, the company has grown to currently employ around 60 staff and runs its operations from three regional offices, in Daresbury, Northampton, and Slough, delivering a wide range of contracts – from single projects to multimillion-pound programmes.
“The biggest achievement over this time, however, has to be our continued commitment to delivering the best possible customer service. Most of our clients require two things from us: cost and programme certainty. We pride ourselves on delivering these and this is down to our focus on clear communication and having the right technical expertise within the business,” Rob discusses. “We do not follow a variation culture – the price we quote is generally the price our clients will pay and we complete 90 per cent of our projects ahead of deadline.”
As much as Matrix Networks is customer-centric, three of the five corporate goals the company has set itself deal with employee development and the creation and nourishment of a healthy business culture. “We are eager to provide an environment that enables the development of our employees, in line with the company’s objectives. Furthermore, we always strive to exceed customer expectations through uncompromised service and delivery, and our ultimate goal is to be the independent multi-utility infrastructure provider of choice.
“We are proud to say that our employees are passionate about what they do and care about our achievements as a company. We invest in them, train them and help them advance their career. Very few people leave us and many have been with us since the early days of the business,” Rob praises the excellent atmosphere that reigns throughout Matrix Networks.
Since the company prioritises efficient communication with its clients, he comments on the necessity to maintain the close customer relationships that allow Matrix Networks to fully understand contractors’ requirements. “Our operational staff are in regular contact with our customers and would rather invest time in getting to know the clients face-to-face, than using a new technology to replace the personal approach we are so keen on. We use a project tracker to show exactly where a project is up to at any given time that also indicates what actions need to be taken, but we prefer talking to customers and providing them with accurate advice, whenever there is a matter that has to be acted upon,” Rob reasons.
The perfection of its customer approach can certainly be credited for Matrix Networks’ successful entrance to just about every of, with the company having infrastructure, logistics, retail, its part in the East Midlands industry sector you can think worked on multiple projects in the commercial, leisure, education, and healthcare spheres, among others. It has just recently played Gateway project, for which it was contracted to provide a multimillion pound, multi-utility solution.
Regarded as a programme of national importance, the SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway is a six million square foot development aimed to provide logistics accommodation for some of the world’s biggest brands. Having developed a long-standing relationship with Roxhill, which is one of the developers, Matrix Networks was entrusted with the challenging task to devise a reliable utility infrastructure. The company took care of the design, installation, and commissioning of a medium pressure gas main, as well as the design and installation of a water main. On the electricity side, Matrix Networks was assigned to design, install and commission a new 33/1 IkV primary substation to supply 28 MVA, together with an onsite 11 kV infrastructure with secondary substation to supply street lighting.
Furthermore, a 12.5-kilometre offsite route had to be excavated for 33 kV cabling, which also turned out to be the major challenge for Matrix Networks over the course of the project. With this being the farthest distance the provider had ever worked on, it had to obtain permission for the excavation works from a large number of bodies, including three local authorities, organisations such as Highways England, Network Rail, the Environment Agency, the Canals & Rivers Trust, as well as a number of third-party landowners.
Overcoming the issues had to be balanced with the promise to provide the client with a fixed price and timescale, thus giving the contractor extra peace of mind. Whilst being fully confident in its initial calculations that the work can be completed on time and within the budget framework, Matrix Networks had the pressure on its shoulders to actually execute the job as planned. It mapped out its programme of works in a way that enabled the project to start moving while the relevant permissions were being obtained. Known for always trying to go the extra mile, the company incorporated a regular reporting structure within its delivery programme, to keep the client up-to-date and keep the project communication as open and fluid as possible.
As you are now familiar with the core principles of work that Matrix Networks sticks to, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the business was recognised nationally by being included on the prestigious ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2018’ list compiled by the London Stock Exchange Group. “It is an independent and highly credible recognition of the success of our company, which will hopefully show everyone how professional, communicative, and different we are from our competitors,” Rob expresses his satisfaction. “The award is also a ratification of our team’s motivation and hard work.”
Arguably, the utility infrastructure installation industry is not the easiest to operate within, and for Matrix Networks, it is a matter of constantly being on its toes, actively working with customers, and ‘speaking’ of its capabilities through the quality of its work. “One of our goals is to deliver sustainable profitable growth, without which the business cannot exist. What we find challenging is trying to attract new customers who have had a bad experience working with less experienced providers. I recommend to these customers to speak to their peers, so they can find out what the benefits are of working with reputable independents. It is all about challenging long-held supply chains to get the best value – both commercially and through improved service.
“We are popular with clients, because we get the job done. We are not perfect, but we are extremely responsive. We go the extra mile to ensure projects stay on track and are completed with the minimum of fuss. More than 85 per cent of our work is repeat business, because we put the customer first to successfully bring developments to life,” Rob concludes.
Services: Multi utility infrastructure installations