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'Full turn-key construction solution is vital for food industry'

31 January 2012

Darren Williams, MD of Project Link Design & Construction, tells Food Processing that being adaptable to their clients wishes is their greatest strength

Can you define who Project Link is and what it does in your own words?
Project Link is a dynamic growing business, offering a specialist construction service to small and medium sized clients, predominantly in the food industry and with a lot of experience in the seafood sector.

Can you describe how, when, where and by whom the company was founded?
In 1991 I joined Stancold Plc, a specialist cold room manufacturing and installation company in Bristol, as Sales Director. I quickly realised that clients very often wanted ancillary services such as flooring, drainage, refrigeration and lighting as part of the 'package' and therefore I set up a project management company to offer the complete package.

What is it about your process that gives you an edge over your competitors?
Project Link are a dedicated team who are able to react quickly to clients' needs and design changes. We have built up a solid client base in an industry where everyone knows everyone else, and successful contracts are talked about and the word spreads quickly.

How is the company coping in the fragile economic climate?
We have weathered the recession very well, mainly due to our speciality in the seafood industry which saw us undertake a full new factory build for a major processing company and this has led to enquiries and contracts from associated businesses.

Could you detail a case study of a food manufacturer with whom you've worked?
During 2011 we completed a major contract for A M Seafoods of Fleetwood, Lancashire. The extensive facility, grant aided by the Marine Management Organisation and European Fisheries Fund, incorporates low care raw goods reception chiller, high care cooking area with steam production, ventilation, and various production lines, chilling and packing areas, blast freezers and a holding freezer, including staff welfare areas, offices and all of the associated facilities to support this.

This contract required Project Link to involve itself with many aspects of the build not always faced in general construction projects such as upgrading the electrical mains supply, installing a new water main with a break tank and booster pump system to comply with a category 5 fluid risk and the siting of a 2500kgs per hour steam boiler with attendant steam piping hotwelland blow down facility.

Can you outline the hierarchy of your company?
Project Link run as a tight and efficient unit with a flat management structure. We are part of the Gilcrest Group of companies so have access to on-site manufacturing of specialist composite panels which are instrumental in the construction of many of our projects, from coldrooms and food production areas to offices and staff welfare areas. This also provides us with access to expertise in acoustic insulation and panelling, cleanrooms, modular accommodation units and bespoke panel solutions that can assist in our projects where required.

Do you think the lack of skills development is a problem for the food sector?
I think this is a major problem across all sectors but is particularly pertinent to the food sector as there has been a long tradition of using a foreign labour force which can sometimes marginalise the local work force unless they do have the appropriate training and qualifications to give them the 'edge' they need to get started.

What is your background with respect to the food and beverage industry?
Having spent over 20 years working solely in food industry construction I consider that Project Link are well placed to offer an experienced and proven quality service with a keen understanding of the difficulties construction in a 'live' food factory environment can cause.

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