Patrick Parsons on course for European expansion

Established 50 years ago, Newcastle-headquartered Patrick Parsons offers full consulting engineering support to the construction sector, having developed a strong reputation on the back of its initial expertise in heritage

The directors of Patrick Parsons
The directors of Patrick Parsons

A consulting engineers is on the hunt for new headquarters as part of ambitious plans which will see the firm double in size within three years and expand into Europe.

Established 50 years ago, Newcastle-headquartered Patrick Parsons offers full consulting engineering support to the construction sector, having developed a strong reputation on the back of its initial expertise in heritage.

Peter Stienlet and Mark Turner carried out a management buyout six years ago – months before the recession struck – but battled through by diversifying.

From a first year turnover of £700,000 the business is now targeting sales of £7m, and the eight-strong workforce it had in 2007 has rapidly expanded to 100.

Last month the firm expanded by acquiring civil and structural consultancy Stewart and Harris based in Birmingham, adding to offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Chester, Huddersfield and Dubai.

And managing director Peter Stienlet said there is now huge potential to double the workforce to 200 within three years, by expanding into Europe.

“Mark Turner and I made the management buyout in 2007, just two months before the crash ... so that really was a good business decision,” said Stienlet. “We had eight staff at that stage. I have always said I would have regretted not doing it, you fight for what you believe in and you don’t know if you can achieve things if you don’t try it.

“And we are now in a situation where we have seven offices and 100 staff and our target for this year is £7m.”

When Patrick Parsons set up the business in 1964 the firm specialised in heritage and worked closely with big names including Rank, but since 2007 the company has ensured work is spread over a variety of sectors including healthcare, leisure, retail, hotels and specialist areas such as white water courses.

Stienlet said: “Having the spread of projects means we can iron out those peaks and troughs. A lot of lessons were learned when I was here and Rank worked with Patrick Parsons. You could see the rosy effect it had when Rank was busy, and then the effect it had when it stopped. You learn from those situations.

“Certainly our focus doesn’t fall on one single area. We have unique things we deal with which are phenomenal, such as the white water courses, but we don’t focus on one sector, and that bodes well for us.

“White water courses have become a specialism and we have four in Russia, and the potential for two in the US, and four in the Middle East – it’s giving us the potential to take us way beyond where we are at. There are always cycles in which you see sectors boom and then stop. Housing is booming, hotels in Newcastle and care homes are also doing well.

“We are striking a deal in Europe with three to four mainland offices, one of which we plan to have in Berlin.

“We currently have seven offices and 38 staff in the Newcastle head office but we’re crammed to capacity here, so we have to move into a new base within six to 10 months, so we are looking at possibly developing a new building.

“Within three years we’ll have 200 staff across all the offices, including new ones in Europe, and the only constraint we have is the space here at head office.”

He added: “Looking back on us marking 50 years this year there is obviously huge amounts of pride in terms of the projects we have done, and huge amounts of satisfaction that comes through from seeing staff enjoy what they do, and seeing them develop.”

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