Charting a path towards further growth
May 11, 2022
Like the planes that leave the neighbouring Newcastle International Airport, Wilson Gray Consulting is on a rapidly upwards trajectory. Its specialist mechanical, electrical and public health system expertise, alongside its trusted building information modelling support, is fuelling market growth, geographical expansion and recruitment. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to partner and operations director Lewis Clark, and co- founder and director Adrian Gray, to find out more.
Lewis Clark sits his mug on a boardroom table and rests himself in a black leather chair.
It’s a brief moment of repose in another busy day. Outside the glass-encased meeting point, phones ring and conversations fill the air.
The office of Wilson Gray Consulting (WGC) – where Lewis is partner and operations director – is moving at pace, alive to the sounds of industry.
And little wonder.
A recent recruitment drive, which saw experienced technical director Stuart Wood joined by an electrical engineer and two digital engineering staff, is being complemented by impending capital gains, with WGC primed to open a London office and secure its largest-ever project to date, on the city’s 35-storey One Leadenhall skyscraper alongside contractor Multiplex.
Melding the skills and experience of its near 30-strong workforce with the latest technological advances, Prestwick Park-based WGC specialises in the design, cost management and co-ordination of mechanical, electrical and public health (MEPH) systems and building information modelling (BIM).
Its team provides crucial guidance to developer clients, contractors and organisations that ensures safe and financially sound project completion, with many of the developments it supports traversing the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) multi-stage MEPH Plan of Work framework.
A long-standing design and construction partner of supermarket Aldi across parts of Darlington, as well as the entire East Midlands and Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, WGC also works closely with NTW Solutions Limited, with current refurbishment work at Morpeth’s Northgate Hospital matched by environmental upgrades to Carlisle-based Carleton Clinic’s Hadrian Unit.
Its catalogue, though, extends to a number of larger, blue-chip developments, many in London, which are overseen by Northumbria University graduate Lewis.
Having provided RIBA stage four and five design and BIM support to contractors Halsion and Sir Robert McAlpine on the £9.2 billion transformation of Battersea Power Station, WGC’s MEPH and BIM expertise has also been integral to McAlpine’s work on the £200 million Peninsula hotel and residential scheme, and to Dornan Engineering’s delivery of the £300 million Chelsea Barracks penthouse and apartment programme.
Crucial to securing such projects are WGC’s in-house digital engineering and BIM departments – led by associate director of digital engineering and digital construction specialist Lee Nichols – which are augmented by an ever-growing building physics team.
With the former two providing specialist digital construction modelling and support across an entire project, and the latter helping contractors and operators catalyse more sustainable developments – WGC is working with Wates on a pioneering net- zero special educational needs school in North Wales – Lewis says the firm is a beacon in a crowded marketplace.
He says: “We are a leading digital consultancy providing a different approach, a niche in a sector that’s been working in the same way for the last 20 years.
“We provide multi-faceted support that covers the design cycle through to on-site construction, with risk completely mitigated.
“Developer clients, contractors and organisations, including many tier one operators, choose us because they know we own a project design from conception to completion.
“And that includes the net-zero agenda too.
“We are at the forefront of decarbonising education and healthcare sites, and supporting operators with large building stocks, thanks to our holistic approach that allows us to influence the use of things like thermal massing and natural ventilation from a project’s outset.”
WGC co-founder and director Adrian Gray, who established the business with fellow director Peter Wilson in 2015, adds: “There is an ever-growing need for MEPH consultants to design more efficient buildings.
“And, thanks to our experience and specialist services, we can help clients not just meet new targets, but exceed them.”
Furthermore, Lewis says the depth of knowledge and quality within WGC’s team provides another dimension.
He says: “Each development stage has its own milestones, which essentially exist to establish a cost, but they don’t say whether a project can be built successfully.
“We know how services integrate into a building, thanks to our dynamic team and its many key individuals with installation contractor backgrounds.
“And what that means is a project is never in jeopardy with us,” adds Lewis of WGC, which counts Stockton- based mechanical and electrical contractor LJJ, Northumberland Estates, Turner & Townsend and HE Simm as clients.
And such is its impact that WGC is opening a London office, close to Liverpool Street Station, which both Lewis and Adrian say will propel the business towards a new phase of growth.
“It’s a real statement of intent,” says Lewis, who is heading the venture.
He adds: “Our great London case studies have opened so many doors, and a dedicated presence in the city will only help us grow.”
Adrian concurs, adding the office is symbolic of the firm’s robustness.
“We’ve done well considering what has been thrown at us,” he says, referring to COVID-19.
“We continued working during the pandemic, with no engineering staff furloughed, and we’re now very busy as confidence returns to the market.
“And because we remained so strong, we’ve got a real opportunity to grow.”
Lewis adds: “Contractors and organisations want to play with the winning team – and that team is us.”
Wilson Gray Consulting
Established in June 2015, and based in Prestwick Park’s Swan Building, WGC’s expert services include consultancy, programme and cost management support, building physics analysis, MEPH design from stages zero to six, and BIM level two to LOD500. Furthermore, it provides DfMA drawing production and structural analysis, and energy and sustainability calculations. The firm, whose turnover stands at around £3 million, also has an office in Leeds.