Penny Fitzpatrick completed an MBA in 1986 and then joined her father, Pat, in runing Fitzpatrick, a building and civil engineering company. Established in 1921, the Hertfordshire company cut its teeth building wartime airfields and parts of the M1. By the early 1990s, competition was squeezing margins. Fitzpatrick was forced to make hard decisions and shed 20% of her staff, cut back low margin projects, and re-oriented the company towards the more lucrative area of industrial construction. She focused the Hertfordshire-based company on becoming a “bid constructor”, using in-house architects, engineers and builders to put together high-value bids and managing numerous sub-contractors once the bid was accepted. By 1995 Fitzpatrick was perfectly placed to exploit an upturn in the industrial sector, and to take advantage of deregulation in the area of highway construction and maintenance tendering. Profits have risen by 54% pa, from £899,000 in 1995 to £3.3m in 1998. Sales grew by 34% pa in the same period to reach £115.8m.
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