Mick Flynn, Operations Director, Flynn, speaks with ROBBIE COUSINS about how embracing diversity, looking after the wellbeing of staff and being an early adopter of digital construction technologies have helped the main contractor sustain its success.
Flynn recently celebrated its 15th year in business. Having placed 19th in Construction magazine’s ‘CIF Top 50 Contractors’ last year, it is one of a relatively new generation of construction firms blazing a trail at home and increasingly flying the Irish flag in Europe, with a diverse portfolio of project types and geographic markets ensuring it minimises its exposure in any one field.
Mick Flynn, Operations Director, Flynn.
Mick Flynn, Operations Director, Flynn, says that the company’s success is down to its client-first culture and a service offering that is second to none. However, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes to maintain this success.
“On every project, we strive to collaborate with the design team and optimise our expertise to ensure that we deliver projects and programmes in key sectors such as commercial, office, healthcare, aviation, hospitality, data centre solutions and retail,” he explains.
“Over the past 15 years, we have built a strong and successful contracting business that has a talented and loyal workforce and an exceptional client base. While we recently celebrated 15 years of business in Ireland, we also celebrated our first year in the UK with the opening of our London office. Our success with a large number of data centre fit-out contracts, won both here and in the Nordic region, has also resulted in us opening an office in Copenhagen, from where we plan to grow our market share in the region over the coming years.”
Flynn carries out work across Ireland from offices in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway. In the UK, clients include U+I, Blackstone and Cisco. It is currently completing a data centre project for a confidential client in Denmark, and it has further data centres and mission-critical projects planned in Scandinavia and across the continent.
Projects recently completed and currently on site in Ireland include Fairgreen Student Accommodation in Galway; 2 Cumberland Place, a seven-storey over-basement office development in Dublin for Hibernia REIT plc; Shannon Airport Baggage Handling Upgrade; Pier 2 Underpass, Roe & Co, Dublin, for Diageo; Guinness Enterprise Centre, Dublin; and Barretstown Camp, Kildare.
Mick Flynn says 2020 will be a very exciting year for Flynn.
“During 2020, we are looking forward to continuing to diversify into new markets with our data centre and mission-critical work, and further develop our presence in London and the Nordic region. We will also continue to work closely with clients to understand their business requirements. By collaborating closely with the whole team, from the client to the design team, right through to our trade partners, and by optimising our delivery through the process, we ensure the ongoing successful execution of projects.
“We recognise the importance of adopting environmental initiatives to help protect the environment for all our futures. Across all our projects, we adopt waste management protocols, reuse where possible and limit the use of harmful materials on the environment.”
Diversity and Inclusion
Mick Flynn says that Flynn management has long recognised the critical importance of diversity within Flynn, not only gender diversity but diversity across all backgrounds.
“We are proud to be one of the first companies to sign the CIF Diversity & Inclusion charter, which demonstrates the commitment to diversity and inclusion within Flynn. Diversity and inclusion have become part of the fabric at Flynn, woven through our policies and our way of working. It begins at the recruitment and selection of new talent and follows through to our staff’s access to training and development and opportunities for promotion. It is a part of who we are and how we operate.
“We believe that an organisation’s recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion can significantly contribute to making it a richer, happier environment for all of our people,” he adds. “As a forwardlooking company, Flynn will continue to adapt and learn, embracing new ideas and thinking to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the Irish construction industry.”
Mick Flynn explains that Flynn’s operations are always being monitored and refined to maintain the highest delivery standards. But what does this mean on the ground and how has it impacted on how projects are delivered?
“Flynn’s business operations are always being monitored and refined. This approach ensures that we have a consistent delivery model that we continually review and refine with the objective of making the day to day activities for all of our people as simple as possible.
“We are really excited about our partnership with Procore,” he continues. “Procore is a cutting-edge piece of software that will make our site operations more streamlined. We see it as an essential investment in our staff. It makes our site teams more effective in their day-to-day operations and enables more efficient, collaborative communication with our design teams.”
BIM as a Project Tool
As the complexity of Flynn’s projects has increased over the years, so too has the demand for integrated BIM delivery. This has led to the adoption of lean practices through the access to and use of 3D BIM models.
“The introduction of pre-construction BIM coordination meetings into our workflow has been a real game-changer as it works to eliminate previously unforeseen clashes that may not have been caught on 2D drawings. For instance, Navisworks Clash Detection is utilised by producing a clash report for all disciplines on a project. This further reinforces interaction and collaboration between all team members.
“Flynn’s implementation of Procore also brought BIM into the field. This gives us an even stronger connection between our site teams and our office teams through the likes of 3D model observations, Requests for Information (RFIs), safety reports, and live quality inspections via on-site tablets. All reports synchronise to our common data environment (CDE) and give real-time reporting, all of which is paperless.
“These key changes are helping Flynn to refine how we identify common obstacles and key problem areas or trades that require more detailed coordination, which ensures strong project delivery.”
Flynn was an early lean adopter and has refined its delivery programme from project to project through its integration into the company’s operations.
“Flynn has always been a lean company; being adaptive to whatever our clients’ needs are and taking learnings with us as we grew over the years has been the cornerstone of our expansion,” Mick Flynn says. “Continuous improvement, eliminating waste, and respect for every project stakeholder is a necessity for any construction firm in this very competitive market in which we operate.
“Since we rolled out the ‘Last Planner’ system across our projects, we have seen the significant benefits of this system with improved buy-in from our design team and supply and trade partners. This, along with ‘Just In Time’ delivery policies, the implementation of ‘5S Housekeeping’; and ‘Everything on Wheels, Nothing Hits the Ground’ policies, has had a positive impact on sites.
“They help to create effective workflows for our trade partners and further improves health and safety standards across our sites. Our most recent projects that adopted these techniques will be handed over to our valued clients snag-free and ahead of time with zero accidents, something we are very proud of at Flynn.”
Since its establishment in 2004, Flynn has steadily grown its workforce year on year. At the end of 2018, it employed 160 people. Mick Flynn says that while providing opportunities for ongoing skills development and career progression are extremely important, the wellbeing of our people and helping them maintain a worklife balance is equally important.
“Understanding that the workload and needs of our people continue to evolve, we have taken steps to meet changing work practices,” he explains. “This year, we introduced work-life balance days in addition to the standard annual leave. These are days of leave that we encourage our team to take throughout the year. These extra days offer a fantastic opportunity for people to take a break during difficult times, which we understand can lead to anxiety and stress.
“Meetings are not set up outside of working hours, and on Fridays, we close our sites at 3pm so we can leave early. We spend time together and get to know each other, which naturally means we support each other with our work-life balance.
“We try to create a flexible and nonjudgmental environment where our people feel empowered to work as best suits them. We continue to be socially and environmentally responsible, and our CSR programme includes volunteer days and commitment to chosen charities each year. Each year, our people nominate our chosen charity, and they come up with a plan to raise as much as possible through fundraising days, sporting events and other activities. This year our chosen charity is Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, which does amazing work with very sick children and young people.”
Addressing skills shortages remains a big challenge for Flynn, as it does across the industry.
“We, as an industry, must get better at promoting construction as a great career choice. There is a lot of pressure on schoolleavers to enter third-level education. As a result, apprenticeships are not as valued in Ireland as they are in other countries. We must do more work to educate parents and young people about the fantastic career opportunities available through apprenticeships.
“Also, less than one in 10 workers in the Irish construction industry are female. This is a huge pool of talent that, as an industry, we are not successfully tapping into. We must get into our primary schools and remove the biases that are putting female school-leavers off careers in construction, while at the same time making our sites and offices more welcoming places to work, and so improve diversity and gender equality.”
Speaking about the future, Mick Flynn is very excited about the upcoming challenges that await Flynn.
“We as a company will continue on our journey of sustainable growth and diversification to ensure we can provide a great place to work for our people, and continue to build our brand with new and existing clients. Above all, our constant goal is to make Flynn a safe place to work for all of our people, clients, supply chain partners and neighbours,” he concludes.