The founder of one of the South West’s leading service specialists for affordable and public sector housing has praised his staff as the company marks 25 years in business.
MD Group, which employs 19 staff and 47 operatives out of its offices in at its offices in Clyst St Mary near Exeter, started life in a one-room office in Ashton Gate, Bristol in 1998.
A quarter of a century later, founder and executive director Steve Devlin has overseen the growth of a company which turns over £42 million, employing some 300 people based out of offices in Exeter, Poole, Bridgwater, Bristol and Abingdon.
The company has grown by 17 per cent in the past 12 months and is forecasting further 20 per cent growth in the next two to three years, as it aims for £50m turnover by 2026.
Today, the MD Group repairs, maintains and refurbishes well over 100,000 homes across the South West each year, with a client base of more than 30 local authorities and social landlords. Services include responsive repairs and planned works, disrepair services, passive fire protection, renewable energy services, compliance services and special projects.
Steve credits MD’s ongoing success to its people. “Our continued growth is a credit to the people in our team, the deep relationships we’ve built with our customers, supply chain partners and the residents whose homes we help to look after,” he said. “The business has grown and evolved, but these relationships endure.
“Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to have attracted some of the best people in the industry but I genuinely believe the current team – including those in Exeter – is the best our business has known.”
He said the forecast growth would provide more apprentice and training opportunities for local staff, increased internal development for existing personnel, new office and trade positions around the region and increased delivery of social value within the communities in which MD Group works.
“Our target is to organically grow turnover to £50m per annum through a sustainable, targeted bidding model which focuses on growth within our existing geographical coverage in the South and South West of England,” he said.
“To achieve this, we anticipate growing our core services of planned and reactive maintenance, compliance services and a significant increase in retrofit and decarbonisation work contracts – all within the social housing sector.”
The past 25 years have seen MD Group overcoming significant obstacles, met by four defining moments: in 2004, a focus on affordable housing in anticipation of a downturn in the private housing market; investment in the company’s technology OneServe to enable seamless integration with customer systems; the introduction of experienced leaders to the management team in 2015; and overcoming the Covid crisis.
“That was an incredibly difficult period for the business, our staff and our customers,“ said Steve, “but one where we supported each other, found new ways of working, and ultimately emerged even stronger.”
The MD Group’s motto is “Proud of what we do.” So, looking back over the years, what is Steve most proud of? Bidding against much larger competitors and winning on quality not price; long-term contracts with many of the largest affordable housing customers in the South West; a high proportion of repeat business; success in reducing the company’s environmental footprint; and steady, well-managed growth.
“Above all, it’s about the people,” said Steve. “Watching people learn, helping them develop their skills, stretch themselves, overcome challenges and grow as part of the team. That’s what means most.
“The secrets of our group strategy are the strong character and culture of the business, Integrity – shying away from rock bottom pricing that leads to equally rock bottom performance – a focus on the communities we serve through supporting employment and local supply chain partners, and the ability to stay agile, make considered choices.
“We have diversified at the right time, in the right directions without straying too far from our core expertise. We are excited about the potential for adding new specialisms to our core services. We are now expecting a significant increase in retrofit and decarbonisation work contracts and we’re looking forward to future growth.”