Established by Ringtown, County Westmeath native Jim Coffey in the early 1990s, J Coffey Construction has gone from strength to strength over the intervening two-and-a-half decades and is now one of the premier specialist building companies in the south east of the UK. We caught up with Jim to reflect on the history and current wellbeing of his progressive self-made operation and also to look at some of the landmark projects completed.
J Coffey Group is a collection of specialist building companies operating out of Harrow, Middlesex in the UK and committed to delivering the highest possible quality of service to customers across its four main divisions: construction, contracting, rail and plant. The group offers a comprehensive construction service throughout London and the south east of England through four separate trading divisions: J Coffey Construction, Main Contracting Division, J Coffey Rail and J Coffey Plant.
J Coffey Construction specialises in structural alterations, civil engineering, substructure, concrete works and builder’s works.
Westmeath native James Coffey initially established J Coffey Contractors in 1991 and progressive year-on-year growth prompted the formation of the J Coffey Group three years later. Since then, the company has experienced structured expansion, growing from a turnover of £1.3 million in 1997 to £60 million last year.
The Group employs up to 700 staff in construction management, professional and business support roles, its ongoing success based upon a reputation for the highest quality of project delivery whilst adopting a proactive and collaborative working approach. The high level of repeat business achieved and a client list that includes many of the UK’s top contractors speaks for itself.
Structural alteration, building fabric refurbishment and groundworks are undertaken in the heritage sector on Grade I and Grade II listed buildings and on more modern buildings in the commercial, rail, leisure, health, retail, high-end residential and utilities sectors. Projects typically range in value from £100,000 to £20,000,000.
The quality of J Coffey Construction’s service delivery and robust procedures have been validated by BM Trada, a UKAS-accredited organisation, for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. They are also accredited by CHAS, SAFEcontractor, constructionline, NHBC and Achilles.
The J Coffey Construction Main Contract Division provides a one-stop shop for managing and successfully delivering both traditional and design-and-build projects within various market sectors including commercial, retail and industrial, education, residential and healthcare.
Established in February 2010, the J Coffey Rail Division employs rail accredited and qualified teams to deliver civil engineering and building works to trackside environments. J Coffey Rail is self-sufficient, with its own plant company, J Coffey Plant Hire, allowing it to resource plant and equipment at very short notice, ideal for night time working and weekend possessions. Platform, drainage, site investigation and lighting works etc. have been carried out on a number of major projects including Reading Station, Croydon Tramlink, Kings Cross Station, Euston Station, Watford Station, London Bridge and Cannon Street.
London Bridge Enabling Works: J Coffey Construction was originally engaged to carry out arch raising and drainage installation for a new public toilet facility on London Bridge station. During this project thanks largely to the dynamics of works required to complete the Shard, preparations for increased passenger flows for the 2012 Olympics and the commencement of site works for the remodeling of London Bridge under the Thameslink, they were able to deliver the following additional works on site: strip out existing arch units / break out 1500m2 of existing RC and replace with new slabs & beams / repair Second World War bomb-damaged arch; install TCRs and UPS housings / install new steel frame & holorib plant deck in existing arches; install temporary risers on live platforms for the main redevelopment works at the station; complete major service and drainage diversions c/w structural alterations for new temporary ticket office.
In January, 2014, J Coffey Construction commenced work on a major 72-week, £15m masonry and structural strengthening programme at Battersea Power Station. The work package comprised masonry repairs to the external wash towers; masonry cleaning; temporary works installation; concrete lining wall construction to the inside of the wash towers; steel strengthening; steel removal and replacement; demolition of existing roof slab; formation of new roof diaphragm slab; installation of carthodic protection; and the installation of lightning protection.
Reading Station Area Redevelopment: The subcontract works package awarded to J Coffey Rail by CHJV involved the upgrades to the existing Reading Rail Station which were a part of Network Rail’s £895m investment to transform the railway in Reading. As the station is a major junction on the national rail system, dealing with around 800 trains and 45,000 commuters each day, it was an ongoing challenge for the team in reaching a number of milestones to achieve construction completion deadlines ahead of targets ensuring that the amount of disruption for commuters and station staff was kept to a minimum. Improvement and upgrade works to the station included building new platforms and entrances, lengthening platforms to create room for longer trains and better facilities.
J Coffey Construction was also employed to carry out major structural alterations to the core of the 31-storey Southbank Tower – formally Kings Reach Tower Waterloo, a £14m project. Other high-end projects recently completed include work around the Olympic Village and on behalf of London Cable Car.
Meanwhile, J Coffey Plant Hire maintains a comprehensive range of the latest top quality, industry-leading construction and demolition plant and equipment to be resourced and utilised by the group including excavators from under one tonne up to 25 tonne, skid steer loaders and dumpers, scissor lifts, telescopic forklifts and concrete pumps as well as a wide range of specialised demolition equipment such as robotic demolition machines, hydraulic track saws, wire saws, hydraulic busters and a wide range of diamond drilling rigs.
An incredible amount of hard work has gone into taking the family business (children Jamie, Shane and Ashling are all involved) to where it is today. Jim is joined in the running of the business by fellow directors and shareholders Tom Mitchell (from Clifden, Galway) and Eddie Barrett (a second-generation Irishman from London). Jim Moore from Mullingar runs the rail division.
“We knew how to cut our cloth to suit during the recession,” he reflects. “We pride ourselves on providing quality workmanship and we only use high quality, experienced people, who are all top class and highly-skilled. It’s the same as any business – unless you have the right people, you are wasting your time.
“I left Ireland on January 1st, 1988, with ten years’ experience in contracting. I started in subcontracting from Day One, as I knew a few people over here. Nineteen-eighty-nine to ’91 were bad years because the recession hit over here too, but we stuck at it and built the business up and became a limited company in the mid-90s.
“Today, concrete substructures and frames have become a big part of our business. We also do a lot of structural alterations on existing buildings and a lot of high-end residential, covering London, the south east and the south west as well over as far as Birmingham. It’s going well and business has grown year-on-year since we started. Even during the recession, we continued to grow.
“I believe the next few years in London South East should be okay and we should be able to grow the business some more,” he concludes. “The economy is picking up here at the moment so we will approach the future with optimism.”
J Coffey Construction Ltd
93-95 Greenford Road
Tel: 0208 426 4944
Fax: 0208 426 4966
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland magazine Vol 1 No 1, Autumn 2015