High-tech horticultural facilities specialist CambridgeHOK is still forecasting to achieve its best ever financial performance this year despite the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The East Yorkshire business, which specialises in commercial glasshouses, vertical farming and renewable energy systems, says it has also strengthened partnerships with key suppliers and customers as a result of supporting one another through the recent challenging period, providing a positive future outlook.
Operations Manager Ian Dolman gave an update on the business as part of a podcast hosted by Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC).
The group, on which CambridgeHOK’s business development manager for energy, Charlotte Penn, sits as a director, brings organisations together to share industrial and business best practice, also aiming to shape the future of the energy industry.
Mr Dolman was taking part in a special podcast in which a number of businesses reflected on the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on their organisations,
He said that despite the many difficulties and challenges it has brought, there have also been many positives taken for the growing firm as a result of the lockdown.
“It is interesting as we were busy before the lockdown started and we are still forecasting to have our best year ever in terms of financial results, which is quite amazing really,” Mr Dolman explained.
“The biggest difficulty when lockdown started was the uncertainty as to what was going to happen and how long it was going to be extended, which really made planning difficult as typically we have around 30 projects going on across the UK at any one time.
“Some of them slowed down and for some access was completely restricted, particularly Government sites as we do a lot of work with the horticultural aspects of universities. They pretty much shut overnight but we kept a key part of the workforce going."
Major projects had already committed to development and contracts
Mr Dolman revealed that with a number of customers already heavily invested into new projects, the firm had no choice but to find a way to continue working and deliver for its clients.
One such project was the multi-million pound state-of-the-art indoor strawberry production facility which is presently being built for Beeswax Dyson Farming in Lincolnshire, a project on which site works were due to start within days of the lockdown being imposed at the end of March.
“We are lucky to be working with the Dyson family and their farming business,” said Mr Dolman.
“They had already made commitments to purchase their plants and exchanged contracts where they are going to sell their products, so if they haven’t got their facility, which was starting from a piece of turf and a green site, then they would have difficulties. It forced us to keep going, which was really good.
“Our working practices have had to change quite radically and we had weekly planning sessions to look at the implications of social distancing and consider how we could stay trading with various new measures put in place. It has been interesting times, but thankfully we have kept going.
“One of the really interesting things has been how people have interacted with each other. More than anything is that have all recognised that we are a community, and by that I mean our suppliers, our customers, our colleagues and our colleagues’ families.
“Our partners have come closer to us now through the way they assisted us, and we have supported them to come through these difficult times also. That has been really good to see. We hope it continues.”