Preston-based Sapphire Utility Solutions was founded in 2013 by Michael Patel. It maintains essential infrastructure for both the utility and highway sectors. The company specialise in installing, replacing and maintaining clean water, wastewater, gas, digital networks and highways drainage infrastructure. It has grown to a team of more than 1,000 staff and hires local people through an apprenticeship scheme. It also provides opportunities for the long-term unemployed and former armed forces personnel.