Utility Consulting and Engineering (UCE) Ltd initially formed in 2006 when continuing deregulation in the new utility connections market led to increasing opportunities. They started out working with property developers, helping to reduce the cost and risk of utility connections however competition from organisations offering “no-Win no-Fee” payment terms refocused UCE’s activities.
It resulted in UCE developing other services and, by the time the solar market took off in 2013, they were working with solar farm developers and contractors designing the electrical connections to local networks. Besides Electrical Design UCE grew to provide the civil design of substations Earthing design and Power System Studies. Business grew quickly until with over 100 solar fam designs completed, until in 2018-19, the Government ceased paying solar feed-in tariffs and business dropped almost overnight.
Since then, UCE has successfully delivered projects including a 50MW Battery Storage Project, 66kV connections to industrial plants, multiple Gas Generation schemes to support the National Grid and multiple other schemes. It’s given them a unique position in the market, and their competitors are either larger, less nimble organisations or a handful of other businesses who work in only one off the fields provided by UCE.
This market position is reflected in UCE’s customers, many of whom are repeat, and include big names such as Coca Cola, the Welsh government and property developers in Canary Wharf.
Business is now booming, especially since Covid, and work is extremely varied. One day, UCE could be designing the connection for a new streetlight, while the next it could be working on large scale solar and wind farms.
In 2006, when Paul Leeuwerke first started UCE with two colleagues, he came across the Genesis business support programme. The programme had been developed to help new and early stage businesses accelerate their growth and included shared office space in what is now the Business Village.
Since moving in almost 15 years ago, Paul has changed offices no less than 6 times, each one increasing in size to accommodate his growing business.
“The Business Village offers flexibility in terms of being able to adjust office space to meet current requirements. They also allow businesses to make the space their own, adding branding which demonstrates professionalism for their employees and shows the business is going somewhere.”
This branding extended out of the office when staff at the Business Village suggested UCE put pictures on the wall in the corridors. Paul responded with the suggestion of adding large, branded images as vinyl wallpaper along the corridor walls. He was given the go ahead and UCE now adorns the walls from reception to the Bistro, later joined by other tenants creating their own similar vinyl wallpapers.
Over the years, Paul has developed and grown a network of other Business Village tenants. Phase 5 Communications have provided their IT systems since the beginning and have the extra benefit of being conveniently placed onsite. Paul also met his accountant while sharing an office space on the Genesis programme.
UCE’s employees are also benefitting from being in The Business Village. The unlimited parking available to businesses means that Paul can offer the perk of free parking to all his staff. He also encourages them to take lunch away from their desks by using the seating area in The Bistro and has arranged for monthly stress releasing back and shoulder massages from an on-site sports massage therapist Be You.
Team building opportunities have also arisen from their location in The Business Village. Pre-Covid, Paul and his team took part in a treadmill challenge organised by tenant Totally Runable, raising funds for local hospices in the area and bringing employees together.
“It would be good to get involved in more activities with companies across The Business Village, increasing cohesion and connection.”
Paul believes The Business Village are good at investing in their buildings and maintain the outside areas well. The staff are also proactive at keeping tenants updated with information about grants and regional updates. This knowledge recently led UCE to apply for a digital grant to buy new iPads and a printer, enabling them to digitise site surveys.
UCE’s future plans are to continue growing and recruit more staff to support the increasing workload.
“The sector as a whole is experiencing a huge skills shortage worldwide. Our success going forward will depend on getting the right people.”