COVID-19 Statement from the Directors, 22nd June 2020:
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging businesses and people everywhere, forcing us all to adapt and rethink our priorities, and it continues to do so as the country carefully makes it way out of lockdown.
Within Athena PTS, we have been forced to rapidly make changes we had never envisaged, including the need to furlough a significant number of our team and adapting the way we work for those who remained active in their roles.
The following bullet points summarise some of the main events, actions and activities undertaken in the last few months in support of both the national fight against the spread of COVID-19 and business continuity:
- Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Monday 23rd March, swift arrangements were made for all those who could work from home to do so. Those who could not work from home were stood down. This resulted in our company facilities effectively being closed.
- Not being confident that the necessary mitigation and distancing measures would be implemented in an appropriate and consistent manner across all sites, we introduced a temporary cessation of construction site activities. Doing so was the only way we felt we could be confident that the health, safety and wellbeing of our personnel would be ensured.
- In parallel with the above actions, many of our construction sites and client sites were closed.
- We implemented the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) over several weeks, at one point having approximately 60% of the workforce on furlough leave. The CJRS really has been critically significant to both the company and the individuals concerned.
- Those who remained ‘at work’ have been working tirelessly to maintain ‘business as usual’ for our customers, in difficult circumstances and with increased pressures, with many individuals taking-on multiple additional responsibilities.
- Our Consultancy Services business unit has been successful in securing several new orders, delivering a 97% increase in departmental turnover to the end of May compared to the previous 3 months. During the period, the team has been undertaking electrical power system studies for two solar farms in Holland for a longstanding client of ours. This itself is a significant leap forward in our goal of establishing Athena PTS in the international market.
- Some sites remained open throughout the last few months and we have been tending to these, along with operational assets and other new installations, when called-upon. Each activity has come with its own challenges, which our personnel have dealt with as professionally and safely as ever, and all work has been conducted in line with UK Government guidelines and our newly implemented site operating procedures and working methods. Such activities include:
- Essential installation and maintenance activities on power generation plants and production facilities.
- Cable fault location and repairs on water utilities assets.
- Installing and providing ongoing maintenance to temporary supply generators at the
‘Community Recovery Centres’ that have been established at Kendal Leisure Centre and Furness Academy in Barrow-in-Furness.
- Our Sales team has seen an increase in enquiries in the last few months. Whilst this did come as a slight surprise, it was certainly very welcome and gives much optimism for the future. Better still is that the team has been successful in securing several new contracts in the period, both locally and nationally and with both existing and new clients.
- Audits for our ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management and National Electricity Registration Scheme (NERS) certifications audits were carried-out by BSI and Lloyd’s Register, respectively. Both audits were highly successful, with zero non-conformances having been recorded. This would be a fantastic achievement in normal circumstances, but it is even more pleasing just now.
Being quite sure that ‘normal’ is going to be considerably different for some time, we have been preparing ourselves for a new way of working.
In addition to the activities listed above, we have invested significantly in putting plans in place to ensure the continued safe and effective delivery of our services across the company. New site operating procedures have been drafted, various risk assessments have been carried-out and several risk-mitigation measures have been implemented, all to ensure that Athena PTS operates in a ‘COVID-19 Secure’ manner.
Our guiding principle is on taking care of our employees and safeguarding their health and well-being. Our plans will remain flexible and we will adapt to the evolving coronavirus pandemic and government guidelines as restrictions are relaxed further or, indeed, re-introduced.
With several construction sites having re-opened in recent weeks, the proportion of our workforce being on furlough leave has reduced to approximately 20% in a very short timeframe, with this number expected to reduce further in the coming weeks. This too came as a positive and welcome surprise as we had anticipated a slower return to full operations.
It has been a real challenge for everyone in the company, but it is a challenge that all have risen to with their usual positive drive and enthusiasm. We are sincerely thankful to everyone in the company who has demonstrated their professionalism, adaptability and understanding, during what remains to be a huge test for us all.
Our thanks also go to our clients, suppliers, sub-contractors and other organisations who have provided support, understanding and flexibility.
As we make our way out of the pandemic, we are pleased to confirm that the business is in very good health and that the future is one we can look forward to positively.
Neil Smith | Keith Bennett | David Shawcross | Mark Skeels