UK Prime Minister Theresa May (center) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond (front, sixth from the left) visited adi Group on October 1, 2018.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and adi Electrical Limited Principal Alan Lusty (center) speak with one of the company's apprentices on October 1, 2018.
adi Electrical Limited, TEGG’s 2017 Contractor of the Year, was honored with a special visit by the UK’s top-ranking official, Prime Minister Theresa May, on October 1, 2018.
“This was a huge honor for adi Group,” said Managing Director James Sopwith. “We were contacted by the Conservative Party about a visit after 28 years of hard work, networking and doing the right thing to continue to grow as a company. It was a very special visit.”
Founded in 1990, the adi Group has organically grown to a $150 million business with more than 650 employees at its 11 UK and Ireland locations. The company has been a TEGG franchise since 2005.
During the hour-long visit to their Birmingham facility, Sopwith and Principal Alan Lusty met with the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond and Birmingham Mayor Andy Street for a short meeting.
Afterwards, Sopwith and Lusty took their visitors on a tour of the facility, where they met the company’s staff, including participants in its apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
Since its founding, the company has garnered attention for its increased focus on its apprenticeship program in 2014.
“In the UK, apprenticeship programs have tailed off, but we increased our focus in 2014 and now, about 5 percent of our employees are apprentices,” Sopwith said.
The company took its apprenticeship program one step further by creating a pre-apprenticeship program for 14- to 16-year-old students to learn and practice hands-on engineering skills. The fully accredited program, which is coordinated through students’ school, is integrated into their normal curriculum.
“We’re committed to continued commercial growth, along with increasing the numbers of our apprentices, but we also want to inspire the next generation of engineerswith our pre-apprenticeship program,” Sopwith said.
"However, we don't want to limit the exposure of this program, so we actively promote it to encourage other employers across the UK to introduce something similar in their businesses. To that end, we offer the whole program, free of charge, to any company who, like us, believe we have a responsibility to inspire and encourage our future workforce."
On her Facebook page, the Prime Minister praised the adi Group and its apprenticeship program.
“I met the wonderful apprentices at adi Group,” May wrote. “We’re going to give more people who work hard the opportunity to access high quality apprenticeships and the chance to succeed in a stronger, fairer country.”
Sopwith said the visit was surreal. Due to security reasons, he and Lusty were not allowed to say anything to their employees or anyone else until about 10 minutes before the visit.
“All we were able to say is that we might have a pretty important visitor, but nothing more,” Sopwith said. “It was a fairly major surprise for the 70 or 80 people who were in the office that day when the Prime Minister came walking up the stairs. There were quite a few shocked faces.”
The office also hosted the UK's national news media from across the country, which led to the adi Group receiving both national and international exposure.
While Sopwith said he was impressed with the media presence and security measures, he was most impressed by the personable nature of the visit.
“I thought they would come in for a short visit and have some photo opportunities, but they genuinely spent some quality time with us, which nont only generous, but also very human,” Sopwith said. “They spent about an hour here, which was quite impressive considering all they have to do.
“The entire day was a huge honor for our company, and something we’ll remember for a very long time.”