Thriving Through Adversity

Gateshead-based Design Engineers, Portland Consulting Engineers (Portland) reports that their investment and faith in their employees has been the key ingredients to its success during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company which offers structural and civil engineering design to the region and around the UK, has continued with a ‘business as usual’ attitude. Initially, by empowering employees with a variety of remote workplace access and communication tools, during the first lockdown; enabling them to work seamlessly with fellow design team members and clients.

Furthermore, with a strategic tiered return-to the office in July 2020, and stringent safety measures in place, the Portland team have remained fully operational from their Watermark office.

Their return to a natural office-based environment has proved to be a crucial factor to support a reactive service, delivering new schemes with faith-filled confidence from clients.

Portland successfully maintained a full workforce, with no staff placed on furlough and subsequently obtained a number of major new projects – including Burtree Garden Village for Washington-based Hellens Group – a major development in Darlington, set to deliver 2,000 new homes and 6,000 jobs over 15 years; along with a care home, retail facilities and space for a new primary school.

Another win for Portland included the expansion to Go North East’s Riverside Depot; designing the electric charging infrastructure to accommodate the Voltra high-tech electric buses and launching the first electric bus fleet in the North East of England. Successfully securing a place on the £750m ICN Framework was another of Portland’s recent achievements. The four-year framework which is designed to support the delivery of new homes across the north of England and support Great Places’ and other regional Housing Associations to deliver their ambitious development programme.

The subsequent wins and successes have led Portland to strengthen its business model with the promotion of associate, Jonathan Eeles to associate director, in a move which will secure the company’s long-term growth and success.

Lee Barr, managing director of Portland said: “Even though we are currently in unprecedented and uncertain times, we know that our team is our biggest asset and that they are the ones who will help to get both us and our clients back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing for our employees has been paramount in our arrangements to return and remain working in the office. This decision was supported by all staff and management, proving to be fundamental in our overall service delivery.

“Jonathan’s promotion to a management role has made significant contributions to the business – helping to build new client relationships, improving the management of Portland, and bringing on the next generation of colleagues”.

The final triumph of 2020 for Portland saw them receive the trophy from the North East Insider Awards for ‘Specialist Consultancy of the Year’ Award. Demonstrated with a number of high-profile projects within the region and evidence of innovative solutions, control of costs and working within the agreed time frame.