The A E Yates Group of companies has developed to offer a complete service for our customers’ civil and ground engineering needs. The stability and strength of the group, combined with a diversified offering across construction, provides customers with confidence in project delivery.
A E Yates Limited was established in Horwich, Bolton as a small local Public Works and Transport Contractor. Unfortunately, whilst our memories are long and stories have been passed down, we are a bit hazy about the years prior to 1946. We were formed in the same year as the British Red Cross was established as the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War by Lord Wantage.
The company constructed some of the original roadways on the Leverhulme Estate at Rivington early in the 20th century.
The company was acquired from the Yates family by Jack Whitehead and incorporated as a limited company in July. Initially capitalised at £12,666 this is still the called up share capital in the company’s accounts today! At the time of the purchase the company had five acres of land at Herbert Street near the Crown pub in Horwich which included kilns and a clay pit for brick making and had a lease on Leicester Mill Quarry at Rivington. This sound very grand but the works were all very small scale labour intensive operations.
“Head office” was an old railway carriage but this was later replaced with a three roomed timber shed (image shown not representative!). As well as carrying out minor civil works (mainly private street works) the company undertook some road transport. The quarry and clay pit were purely drill and blast and hand excavation work but the company did have several steam wagons for the transport side.
Unfortunately the first thing Jack did was clear the yard and sell the “steamers” for scrap, a pity as they would have been worth a fortune today. We don't have any photos of the steam trucks but an image of what must be one of our earliest internal combustion engine trucks is shown above.
John Whitehead, son of Jack, started working for the company in 1965 straight out of university and is still here as Chairman and majority shareholder.
A E Yates is a well known name in the local community and has supported activities over the years, including taking part in the carnival at Horwich during the 1970s
The company was growing cautiously recruiting additional staff as it did so. Most notable was Paul Boron joined as a junior Quantity Surveyor in 1977 - he is now Group Chief Executive. He had smashed his car and needed a job with a company car quickly! He was 'delighted' to be presented with a magnificent red Vauxhall Chevette E (for Economy not Executive) complete with red pleather interior and powered by the smallest engine in the range.
Meanwhile we moved on from our little shed at Herbert Street to a larger shed using a second hand sectional building further up the site. This building later saw a modern brick extension! We finally abandoned the Herbert Street site in 1991.
As time went by the nature of work undertaken, and A E Yates, changed according to the market and tender opportunities available and we started doing more and more main drainage work. This led to our undertaking tunnelling works, initially via subcontractors, and eventually acquiring tunnelling equipment to carry out tunnelling ourselves as both a main contractor and as a subcontractor. Increasing demand resulted in the formation of a stand alone company - see 1995 below.
We moved to our current home on an open 3.5 acre site where we built 12,000 square feet of offices and workshops. This property overlooks the Reebok (or whoever is sponsoring Bolton Wanderers today) Stadium and we can watch as this famous old club, one of the 12 founding members of the Football League, goes through the agony of survival.
The specialist company A E Yates (Microtunnelling) Limited was formed in 1995 and changed its name to A E Yates Trenchless Solutions Limited in 2004 as we widened the range of trenchless services we offered to include directional drilling and guided auger boring. This was really the start of the concept of the A E Yates Group. In 2019, as a reflection of the changing market, A E Yates Directional Drilling Limited became the Group's trenchless company.
A E Yates Limited Civil Engineering continued to grow, working predominantly in the infrastructure sector in the north west. Frameworks were starting to become more prevalent and the company succeeded in gaining a place on local authority, highway and utility company frameworks ensuring a solid pipeline (no pun intended!) of future opportunity.
The change from A E Yates as civil engineering contractors to the current group started with the setting up of A E Yates Trenchless Solutions and progressed with the acquisition of Steel Piling Installations Limited known as SPI and now trading as SPI Piling Limited in 2006. SPI had worked frequently as subcontractors to A E Yates Limited and when the founder of SPI wanted to retire we purchased the company from him.
Side Grip Piling was formed to sell piling attachments. We are the authorised UK dealer for Gilbert Inc. who have introduced the GRIZZLY MultiGrip™ vibratory pile driver into the UK construction market.
The next acquisition was Tritech Piling and Foundations, a Wigan based small piling contractor doing mainly CFA and tripod work. We have since changed its services to driven piling and vibro stone column piling, focusing on the housing and industrial markets. The company now trades as Tritech Ground Engineering Ltd.
We purchased a further 25,000 square foot building when the industrial unit across from our office became available. Today this is home to A E Yates Directional Drilling, Combined Soil Stabilisation, SPI Piling and Tritech Ground Engineering.
Getting a taste for ground engineering we acquired the assets of Combined Stabilisation Ltd. in February when the company went into administration and we formed a new company, Combined Soil Stabilisation Limited. Using the assets of the former Combined Stabilisation and with the injection of more capital from the Group, the company has been very successful since and is now (probably) the largest specialist soil stabilisation contractor in the UK.
We're not all about acquisition to grow the group. The Power & Waste division of A E Yates Limited was set up in 2015 and has become established in the sectors in which it operates. Working with power supply distribution network operators, onshore windfarm developers and waste disposal companies the division has grown year on year.
Completing our property adventures (so far!) we built a new pile storage yard in Leigh. We acquired the 3.5 acre site in 2017 and constructed a secure storage facility with gantry cranage that holds our 3000 tonnes stock of steel piles and sections.
Moving into the next generation of Whiteheads (although not as young as Vicky and Helen in this image in which Nick is not shown as he had yet to be born!). Group turnover and profitability has grown from around £50m in 2012 to over £70m today - a clear indication of sustainable growth. The companies continue to invest in people, plant and equipment to ensure future success and benefit for our customers. A comprehensive rebrand and website refresh also presented a more recognisable group feel to customers.
Securing a long term future. Proud to be employee owned. A E Yates Ltd. and its subsidiary SPI Piling Ltd. became employee owned companies when the Whiteheads sold 75% of the shares in A E Yates Ltd. to the employees. The other group companies remain in family ownership and all the companies in the A E Yates trading group will continue to work together to offer a complete ground and civil engineering service to our customers and clients.