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Caithness Firm JGC Spotlighted In Latest NDA Newsletter

5th April 2013

JGC was founded in Thurso by the current Chairman Jock Campbell, who began supplying welding services to the NDA’s Dounreay site and the neighbouring Vulcan naval test base back in 1972.

The company has since expanded into other sectors including oil and gas, becoming more specialised in the process, and now has an annual turnover of £10 million-plus, together with a workforce of 130 people. Its family ethos has remained, however, with three of the Campbell sons, William, Robert and John, following their father into the business, while a focus on training and skills has been a key element in the JGC story.

Director Tim O’Brien said: “We take on at least four apprentices every year and have done so for 20 years. We see staff development and expertise as key to our success. We are family–orientated, aiming to look after our people and, I hope, we retain their loyalty. We do have several generations working here together - fathers and sons, for example – and are keen to ensure that continues.”

At Dounreay, JGC is currently involved with the building of the new active analysis lab that will be used to examine radioactive materials for up to 25 years, until the site reaches closure. Working as a sub-contractor in partnership with the main contractor Yorkon, JGC are manufacturing and installing the nuclear ventilation system, and providing mechanical and electrical services.

In addition to Dounreay, JGC is also working at Trawsfynydd site in Wales and Hinkley A in Devon, plus Ministry of Defence sites at Aldermaston, Devonport and Faslane. Export markets include the Far East and Europe, while two pieces of equipment have recently been despatched to Lithuania’s Ignalina nuclear plant which closed in 2009.

The company’s Scottish bases include a large trials and test facility, specialist
manufacturing workshop and a machining plant. Tim sees no disadvantage in being
located in one of the UK’s most remote corners: “It has never been a drawback, and we are often able to offer more competitive prices because we do not have the overheads of companies based in the South East, for example.”

Although active in oil, gas, renewables, utilities and general industrial engineering, JGC’s background is nuclear, working at all tiers of the supply chain. Tim noted that the wide range of regulatory requirements have grown much more stringent over the years, but believes that SMEs who persist with the bureaucracy will benefit in the long term.
“Access to nuclear contracts may sometimes be influenced by a perception that the requirements are too onerous and this can act as a psychological barrier, preventing businesses, especially SMEs, from attempting to pre-qualify, but it is worth persevering – once you have done it, it becomes much more straightforward on the next tender.”

This article is from the NDA Newsletter "Insight" number 13 2013 published in April 2013.
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