Strong supply chain relationships are increasingly important to the success of a project. We spoke to Richard Lawton, Regional Sales Manager – South at Sika Sarnafil to discuss the longstanding collaboration between Prater and Sika Sarnafil, what makes this partnership such a success and the benefits to the construction process.
1) Can you tell us a little about Sika Sarnafil?
Sika Sarnafil is well-known throughout the world for providing high-quality, long lasting single ply roofing systems. These waterproof membranes are suitable for most types of roof design in new build and refurbishment applications, whether it’s a flat, pitched, vertical, wave form, domed, concave or convex roof, we can provide a solution. With a nationwide network of 16 fully trained Technical Advisors, alongside our Technical Services Department and our Roofing Field Technicians, we provide robust technical back-up for our Registered Contractors, as well as architects and specifiers.
2) How long has Sika Sarnafil been a supply chain partner of Prater?
We’ve actually had a working relationship with Prater since the mid 1980's when Sarnafil first came into the UK market. Initially we didn’t have formal supply chain agreements within the industry so the more integrated relationship that we have today was introduced in 2007.
Our relationship with Prater is one of the longest standing we have as a business, especially for a company of that size. We’ve always valued long term alliances with other companies –some of our roofing contractors, that have worked across Prater projects, have been working with us for more than 30 years!
3) How did the relationship between Prater and Sika Sarnafil come about? What was the first project?
The relationship was started as the result of a number of major projects which brought both companies together through their design expertise. The Stansted Airport Passenger Terminal Building was one such early project and was a major milestone for both companies. The roof was quite a challenge – being approximately 40,000m2 in size – requiring a joint effort in terms of problem solving from all parties. Completed in September 1987, the membrane used was also one of the first generation of Sarnafil PVC membranes to be used in the UK. It was a flagship project in terms of innovation in roofing systems and collaboration between contractor and manufacturer.
4) What has been the project Sika Sarnafil is most proud to have worked on with Prater and why?
It’s tough to choose a single project – there are so many great examples and prestigious names to choose from. We’ve worked with Prater on some iconic buildings such as the main terminal at Stansted Airport, Terminals 1,2,3 and 4 at Heathrow, Gatwick Airport North and South terminals as well as the terminal bridge passenger connection Pier 6 project, Manchester airport, St Pancras train station and the Emirates Stadium to name just a few. It's hard, if not impossible to pick one that could lay claim to being the best project, however it’s an impressive portfolio that speaks volumes of the fantastic working relationship we have with Prater, one that we are very proud of indeed.
5) How do you work together on a day-to-day basis?
Prater is quite unusual in the way it does business, but it works incredibly well. As a nationwide firm, it operates through a number of regional offices with skills tailored to the needs of local projects. We have Sika Sarnafil Technical Advisors based around the country and each of them maintains a strong relationship with their local Prater office. At this level, the team ensures that they are having regular meetings about upcoming projects and adding value wherever possible.
At a national level and for very large scale projects, I am responsible for keeping an open dialogue with Prater’s pre-contract managers. When we meet, we take the opportunity to collaborate and share projects that may be of interest to one another. Sharing all the information we have allows both businesses to benefit and makes for a very consultative approach. It’s a way of working we’d love to see more companies adopt. Hopefully as the construction industry continues to evolve the Prater model will lead the way.
6) Do you think the relationship between Sika Sarnafil and Prater is a great example of how supply chains work together to benefit both parties?
Most definitely, the benefits for both supplier and contractor are numerous. As far as our brands go, we’re very aligned in terms of reputation in the industry and we both benefit by this association.
From our perspective, we know we can depend on Prater to keep us front of mind for any single ply membrane projects. For the majority of the time it is Sika Sarnafil that is specified, unless there is a specific client requirement. We will always ensure that Prater’s design team has the technical and design support it needs at the very beginning of a project and we’re happy to work with them on making sure the specification works in terms of performance and budgets. By supporting each other in this way, both companies get added value – and more importantly we produce better buildings, so the client and the end user benefit too.
7) What does a good collaborative relationship look like to you?
Learning from one another is a key element. Sharing resources and expertise leads to fantastic outcomes so we make sure we regularly update our contacts with new information. Recently we delivered a presentation to 12 members of the Prater design team in their Huntington office. By doing this, we ensure that everyone is always in the loop when it comes to our latest product innovations and any design considerations to consider. Similarly, Prater’s team will ensure we have full understanding of the way they bid and tender for work, so we can support this process wherever possible.
8) How important is trust within the supply chain to achieve industry-leading standards?
Trust is the backbone of any relationship and this is indisputably true for supply chain partnerships. Trust is built through open and honest communication, face-to-face contact and building relationships between individuals in the business. I know that any information I discuss with Prater when projects are in their infancy will go no further. We also trust Prater’s expertise completely when it comes to their design teams and the installation of our roofing systems – they understand our products completely. Its installers are always fully trained and the workmanship is exemplary, which helps maintain the reputation of our brand. In turn, we always go over and above expectations in terms of support with technical questions, design and pricing.
9) How do you see the relationship between Prater and Sika Sarnafil developing over the next few years? Of course we would love to see this relationship evolve even further, making the way we work together even more seamless. Embedding more people from within both organisations into the other across all departments looks to be the next logical step to achieve this. The results of developing our relationship will be hugely positive – not only in terms of growth for Prater and Sika Sarnafil – but on the built environment as a whole. Together we want to create buildings that will stand the test of time, are sustainable, meet and exceed regulations, and ultimately, make people’s lives better. Strong supply chain partnerships are key to delivering this.