NIFES at 70
Reflecting on a legacy of learning and growth with Gareth Jones
NIFES MD Gareth Jones shares his thoughts on hitting our 70th birthday. What’s kept us going so long, and how do we continue to thrive?
Having been with us for 17 of our 70 years, Gareth Jones is better placed than many to comment on our history and future. For our MD and Head of Property compliance, successfully weathering seven eventful decades is an immense source of pride.
Building on a heritage
It was 1953 when the Ministry of Fuel and Power set up the National Industrial Fuel Efficiency Service (NIFES). Our original aim was to help postwar industry become more energy efficient. Over time, we’ve grown beyond that core mission, into a multifaceted consultancy that supports clients across the breadth of their building stock.
These have been transformative years for both our sector, and the world. NIFES evolves to reflect changing trends, joining the Bellrock Group is part of that process. But throughout, people have always valued what’s in our DNA; energy efficiency, technical support, professional due diligence, and compliance.
For Gareth, this is critical. “Trust is our big driver. We work with 80% of the NHS and half of UK higher education institutions. These areas are in the headlines every day so if you lose their trust, you’ve lost everything.
To be working in these areas for so long is testament to who we are today, and to those who have come before us. It proves that, however the industry changes, it always comes back to those core areas where we really shine.
Many of our clients are under huge pressures themselves. Our values are rooted in helping to take the pressure off them; the clients we work with, need to know that their buildings are safe and that work is delivered to the highest standards.
This is why we protect the quality of our work. If a job takes us 10 days longer, that’s how long it takes. We won’t rush it, because that wouldn’t only let our client down. It would let down our predecessors. I speak to people whose grandparents worked for NIFES; there’s a real sense of legacy and heritage here.”
Spreading knowledge and sharing success
Our many years in business have been packed with learning. From our earliest days, we acted as an expert advisory body to the Government. That role continues today, we help bodies like the NHS manage their estates more effectively for example. We love sharing what we know.
As Gareth puts it, “Our expertise is derived straight from the number of clients we work with. We’re learning from every single one. So, in hospitals for example, we can help people drive their own agenda because we’ve seen what works elsewhere. The way I see it, our job is to get our client promoted, to help them be the best.”
What knowledge would he share to help a business last 70 years? Well, “A business should be agile enough to change around and move and see where the markets go. At the same time, it has to be stubborn enough to stick to its original values.
The market will continue to change; a lot’s different today, in previous decades, people focused on saving money, viewing us as in investment. They’d view it as putting X amount into a building now to save Y in the long run.
Today’s clients are more compliance driven; they view things through a different lens. Safety is rightly their biggest concern. They want to know that people are safe because their assets are safe and compliant, but also they’re not going to damage their reputation or get prosecuted.
Changing with the market has been important, as has giving our staff the freedom and agility to represent our values. We want them to be able to instinctively say ‘yes,’ so long as they’re able to do a quality job.
Whatever you do, stick to the same level of quality. Your people are your product, invest heavily in training. We do that, and we have some of the best talent in the industry, particularly in our Fire and Assets teams.”
To everyone across the business, Gareth has one thing to say:
”Thank you for being part of our brand, both past and present. It's a collective, we’re a product of our past. We’ll continue holding onto the ideals which have made us who we are for 70 years, so we can keep on trading for another 70 to come.”Gareth JonesManaging Director