This report is about JN Bentley Limited, a civil engineering company based in Skipton, North Yorkshire with over 40 years experience in the construction industry. It presents the history of the company, its current operations and a SWOT analysis. Towards the end, recommendations are given regarding the short, medium and long term strategies that may be adopted by the company as it looks ahead into the future.
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History of JN Bentley
JN Bentley limited was established in the year 1972 and ran its operations in Skipton and North Yorkshire. During its early days in business, the company offered water and sewerage services for the water authorities in Bradford and Craven and also did civil engineering works for the local authorities in Yorkshire and East Lancashire.
With this start, the company managed to lay its foundation for civil engineering services and create a strong link with the water industry (Bentley, 2011). As the company continued to expand its horizon, it later added building construction to its range of services with quite a number of building construction projects being completed successfully in the 1980s. Gradually, the strength of the company grew to the point of it becoming a pioneer in the provision of excellent design as well as building services to clients.
Two high profile and very ambitious residential projects were later completed in the years between 1985 and 1995. One of these was at Linton, near Grassington, in North Yorkshire and the other one was at Cowan Head, close to Kendal, in the Lake District (Bentley, 2011). In 1990s, the company’s focus shifted towards civil engineering. This saw the company strengthen its relations with Yorkshire Water as well as developing strong skills in offering solid waste management services.
Around this time, the company’s operations were extended to cover the northern side of England with a focus on blue chip and local government clients. JN Bentley Limited ‘s expertise continued to grow especially in the water industry. These include process, mechanical and electrical design, installation, and commissioning of water projects.
Later, in the year 1999 JN Bentley Limited entered into a partnership with consultant Mott MacDonald with the sole intention of offering an integrated feasibility, design, construction and commissioning of services. From the time it was formed, Mott Mac Donald Bentley has grown tremendously to such an extent that in its thirteenth anniversary, it now represents close to half the turnover of JN Bentley Limited (Bentley, 2011).
In the 2000s, JN Bentley Limited diversified its operations to cover a much wider geographical area with new company offices being opened in Durham in the year 2005, and later in Shifnal, Shropshire and Edinburg in the year 2009. The company also established a Yorkshire Water Contract Office in Leeds and a Cambridge Water Contract Office in the year 2010.
Today, JN Bentley Limited operates long term capitals in both the water and wastewater sectors and also enjoys long term relationships with a number of blue chip commercial clients. The company also works for local government clients and continues to offer services both in the building sector and in civil engineering. With it rich knowledge and expertise in development and design in the renewable energy and hydropower sector, JN Bentley Limited has gone ahead to establish a hydropower team (Bentley, 2011).
Over time, JN Bentley Limited’s operations have expanded to cover quite a number of services to the public. These services include:
JN Bentley prides itself in providing high quality craftsmanship to aerospace clients. Some of these clients are Leeds Bradford International Airport and Multiflight Ltd. The company has outstanding experience of carrying out concrete paving works that include runway aprons and taxiways with very minimal disruptions to customers (Bentley, 2011).
The company’s commercial and industrial projects include office design and construction. With the vast expertise in building and civil engineering, the company is able to perform excellent construction of production and warehouse space. The company serves a variety of sectors that include fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), manufacturing and distribution as well as health and education (Bentley, 2011).
At the core of the operations of JN Bentley Limited is the environment work. Throughout its history, much of the work done by the company has been closely linked to water and the environment (Bentley 2011). The company has in the past been able to complete flood defense schemes in tidal as well as in non tidal waters. It has also constructed fish passes and gauging stations for the Environment Agency.
The company also has vast experience of land drainage works for the Internal Drainage Boards and has also built surface water storage systems and pumping stations below the natural ground water level. Recently, the company has been able to apply sustainable urban drainage (SUDS) techniques to projects for some of its clients. The company is very keen on applying its knowledge and expertise on the renewable energy sector (Bentley, 2011).
- Health and Education
From the early 2000s, the company has gained value added experience of working directly with schools and hospitals as well as local authorities in delivering health and education projects. JN Bentley Limited does understand the seriousness of projects in these sectors and is committed to deliver high quality services within the specified timeframes and in a cost of effective manner. Always, the company puts the clients’ needs first (Bentley, 2011).
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The company has a dedicated workforce of individuals with a great experience in building high quality highway structures. Besides, the company’s construction team is very familiar with the Department of Transport specifications regarding highway works. LN Bentley Limited is experienced at working with local authorities in road renewal, refurbishing of bridges, and other enhancement program (Bentley, 2011).
- Renewable Energy
As pointed out earlier, the move by JN Bentley Limited into the renewable energy sector, particularly the hydropower market grew through a natural process as the company gained expertise over the years through partnerships with clients and other like minded organizations such as the Environment Agency (Bentley, 2011).
JN Bentley Limited is a member of the British Hydropower Association and has also established various supply chain relationships in the renewable energy market to facilitate its delivery of hydropower schemes. These include collaborations with companies like Spaans Babbcock and Zeropex (Bentley, 2011).
- Solid Waste
Solid Waste management is a key construction market for JN Bentley Limited and its subsidiary company, Mott MacDonald (MMD). Together, both Mott MacDonald and JN Bentley Limited have gained a great deal of experience in long term agreements as well as individual contracts with clients in the solid waste sector.
Among them are Waste Recycling Group, Sita, and Yorwaste (Bentley, 2011). The company is very keen to make good use of its expertise gained from the water sector to support solid waste operators in designing and constructing process plants to handle waste and recycling treatment (Bentley, 2011).
- Water and Wastewater
Given that the company’s extensive experience in this area covers its entire history, this is probably one of those areas where the company’s reputation speaks for itself throughout the construction and engineering industry (Bentley, 2011).
Although Yorkshire Water is one of JN Bentley’s biggest customers in the water sector, the company also does work for Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, Scottish Water, Cambridge Water, Essex, Suffolk Water, and United Utilities. Most of the work undertaken by the company in the water and wastewater sector is done on a feasibility, design and construction basis by its subsidiary, Mott MacDonald (Bentley, 2011). In all these, the company is able to meet clients’ expectations with projects completed to the highest standards.
JN Bentley’s SWOT Analysis
A company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a powerful tool for reflecting on a business’s internal and external position (Ryan, 1995). As can be seen from figure 1 below, strengthens and weaknesses are linked to the organization’s internal position while opportunities and threats look at factors that are external to the organization. An organization must seek to maximize on its strengthens and look for ways of minimizing its weaknesses (Ryan, 1995).
Figure 1: Elements of a SWOT analysis (Ryan, 1985)
From discussions in the previous sections, JN Bentley Limited’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are as follows:
Strengths include the fact that:
- The company has a long standing history of excellent performance and its experience speaks for itself
- The company has a huge pool of staff with varied skills and expertise acquired over time
- The company offers a wide variety of services
- The company also has a stable financial base
- The company has a good network of collaborators
Weaknesses that can easily be spotted at JN Bentley include the fact that:
- A Lack of capacity building programs for employees
- Although there is an advantage in offering more than one service, the danger involved is that it may be a challenge to maintain high standards unless the company makes deliberate efforts to do so.
Notable opportunities include:
- Services such as solid waste management and water waste management the company offers are quite unique and very few companies will think of venturing into them. For such services therefore, there is no competition.
- The company also has quite a number of partnerships that can be used to its advantage.
- JN Bentley is also a highly respected company in the eyes of the general public.
- Opportunities to merge with other like minded companies.
Some threats to JN Bentley Limited include:
- First, there is the existence of other companies that are offering similar services. JN Bentley therefore, has to work really hard in some areas to make sure it can stand out from the rest.
- There is also a danger of partners and other collaborators stealing JN Bentley’s trade secrets.
Once the boundaries of an industry have been identified, the task that faces a manager is to analyze the competitive forces in the industry environment and to identify opportunities and threats (Hill & Jones, 2007). Michael Porter’s well-know framework, the five forces model helps managers with the analysis. His model that is shown in figure 2 focuses on five forces that shape competition within an industry.
Figure 2: Porter’s Five Forces Model (Hill & Jones, 2007)
As figure 2 shows, the forces are: the risk of entry by potential competitors, the intensity of rivalry among established companies within the industry, the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers and the closeness of substitutes to an industry’s products. The stronger each of these forces is the more limited is the ability of established companies to raise prices and ear greater profits. Within Porter’s framework, a strong competitive force can be regarded as a threat as it reduces profits (Hill & Jones, 2007).
Because of the presence of competitors in certain areas of JN Bentley’s operations, there is the threat of the company not being in a position to make profits as it intends to. On the other hand, the company is better placed to realize better profits in areas where it offers unique services and no competition exists.
Conclusion and Recommendations
As pointed out by porter, a firm can use various strategies to deal with the competition in the market and some of these can be very helpful for JN Bentley Limited. Whereas some of these strategies are for long term planning, others will apply in short and med-term plans.
One approach that may be adopted by a company is innovation (Porter, 1998). This may categorized under the short and medium term planning and will enable a company to come up with products that are different from those that are available in the market. In the case of JN Bentley Limited, some of its services are already unique. It will therefore be prudent for the company to continue offering these services and go on to strengthen their provision.
Another strategy that may benefit JN Bentley Limited in the medium and long term strategic planning is focus. Currently, the company provides quite a number of services. By so doing, it becomes difficult to focus on delivering quality in all the services. To ensure that the company is able to deliver to the very highest standard, it is important that the company only focuses on a few areas where it can deliver high quality services that can not easily be beaten by competitors.
As a long term plan, it is critical for JN Bentley Limited to position itself strategically in the market. This may include taking advantage of opportunities to merge with other players who are in the same industry so as to offer the best quality in the industry. So far, the company has merged with Mott MacDonald and deliberate efforts must be made to strengthen the association. So far, there are indications of the company’s profits increasing as a result of this merger.
Finally, companies exist to serve customers. As a long term plan therefore, it is important that JN Bentley Limited guarantees its customers high quality services. This has the benefit of locking in customers and killing their desire to want to move to competitors. As explained earlier, JN Bentley Limited delights in offering its clients very high quality services.
The company should therefore continue to ensure that the quality of services offered to customers remains high. This also means that the company will have to continually engage with suppliers to ensure that customers are not disappointed in any way.
Bentley, JN., 2011. JN Bentley Limited. Skipton, North Yorkshire: JN Bentley Ltd. Available from: <https://www.mottmacbentley.co.uk/> .
Hill, C. W. L. & Jones, G. R., 2007. Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach. Andover, Hampshire: Cengage Learning.
Porter, M. E., 1998. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors: With a New Introduction. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Ryan, B., 1995. Strategic Accounting for Management. Andover, Hampshire: Cengage Learning.