A Conversation with Chris Foulkes, CEO of KAEFER UK & Ireland
We are delighted to provide you with the latest insights into our journey, strategy, and the remarkable achievements that have shaped KAEFER UK & Ireland over the past few years. Join us for a Q&A session with our CEO, Chris Foulkes, as he shares his reflections on KAEFER UK & Ireland’s progress, challenges, and future direction – from the core enablers of our business to the commitment to our people, and the exciting prospects that lie ahead.
Q1: Could you please share an update on KAEFER UK and Ireland’s LIFT Strategy and the recent developments in the company?
It’s a pleasure to provide you with an update on KAEFER UK and Ireland’s LIFT Strategy. Over the past few years, we’ve faced both exciting and challenging times.
Ensuring sustainable business growth is crucial, but at the heart of our success is our dedicated team delivering essential industrial services every day. Our people are what make KAEFER a fantastic place to work. As the CEO, my commitment is to propel the business to its full potential. Our goal is ambitious – doubling the size of the company. Achieving this requires continued investment in our people through Attraction, Retention, and Development.
We aim to be a high-performing, attentive business, with a steadfast commitment to continuous improvement. Everyone at KAEFER has the opportunity to excel. Our strategy revolves around key business enablers – People, Process, Customer, and Brand – supported by corporate initiatives. These initiatives provide an excellent chance for our employees to actively shape the future of our company, both in the short and long term.
Sustainability is a core focus, considering the environmental impact of our work, and we’re dedicated to accommodating the needs of the communities in which we operate. Additionally, we strive to lead in equality, diversity, and inclusion. Doing the right thing is at the forefront of our company values, and having the right people supporting our strategy is crucial to being a reliable business for our customers.
Q2: Chris, you introduced the LIFT strategy in 2022, emphasizing key enablers like People, Process, Customer, and Brand. What are your reflections on our progress in the last two years?
Our enablers form the DNA of KAEFER, so let’s delve into each one:
Brand: The strength of the KAEFER brand has significantly increased over the past three years. We’re recognized not just in the UK and Ireland but globally. Being the automatic choice for our customers and delivering reliable, efficient, and technical industrial services remains crucial.
Customers: Our diverse customer base across Industrial, Energy, Defence, and Nuclear sectors proved beneficial during challenging times like the COVID pandemic. Maintaining a healthy balance across these sectors is key, and our cash flow demonstrates the importance of working with the right customers and partners.
Process: In this age of digitalization, our investments in various systems, from DPMS [Digital Project Management System] to EZY ID [Digital Equipment Tagging], are aimed at providing the same level of information and efficiency that people expect in their personal lives. We’re committed to continuous investment in process and technology improvements.
People: Our focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talent has resulted in receiving the Gold Award from the 5% Club for two consecutive years. We recognize the importance of supervisors and are launching a KAEFER Supervisors Course in 2024. Additionally, we’ve strategically placed Mental Health Champions in the UK and Ireland.
If we don’t have the right people, our brand weakens, customers are lost, and processes are ineffective. The strength of KAEFER lies in the quality of our people.
Q3: You and the leadership team set the business on a course for ambitious growth with a strong customer focus. How is this progressing, and have there been any changes?
We initiated the LIFT Journey in 2020 with a clear focus on a rolling 5-year plan. Our vision was to double the size of the business, continuously improve earnings and customer base quality. Our revenue growth from £198M in FY20 to £318M in FY23 showcases our trajectory. Achieving such growth is only possible with key partners within our customer base, and we’re on the right track.
Q4: You often emphasize the importance of investing in our people and building high-performing teams. What are your thoughts on present and future opportunities for KAEFER colleagues?
To build a high-performing business, it’s crucial to create pockets of excellence. Diversity in thought, competency, and backgrounds within the leadership team contributes to this. Building a culture of high performance across the business involves supporting, encouraging, and developing all team members. KAEFER provides career development opportunities, recognizing that not everyone desires to climb the career ladder. Stability is equally important, and we value individuals who aim to be the best within their specific areas of expertise. One of my favourite sayings is: “the best way to predict the future, is to create it yourself in whatever capacity.”
Q5: Our LIFT strategy is a rolling 5+ year plan. Looking ahead to the future, what can we expect from KAEFER LIFT in 2024 and 2025?
As we move into 2024 and 2025, our commitment to keeping our people safe remains a top priority. Ongoing training, procedure development, investment in new equipment, and employee support will be key focus areas. With the backing of our shareholders, we aim for both organic growth with new and existing customers and inorganic growth through strategic acquisitions. Our solid business plan, diverse client base, healthy backlog of work, profitable contracts, and exceptional people position KAEFER for an exciting future in the UK and Ireland’s Engineering & Construction landscape.
Remember, when it counts, count on us!