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Who are your Construction Heroes?

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Tell us who the unsung heroes of construction are that deserve recognition

Construction heroes

Construction should be known for its talented and diverse workforce, according to the government’s industrial strategy.

Launching the strategy last month, business minister Michael Fallon set out a series of highly ambitious targets for construction and also criticised the sector’s current performance in areas such as the efficiency of its supply chain and its apparent lack of ambition in terms of overseas growth.

But we know that the industry is actually excelling in many instances, and that much of that success is led by the very same talented people the strategy suggests are not being publicly recognised.

To put this right, we’d like you to tell us more by nominating your construction hero - not established leaders or well-known figures in the sector, but unsung heroes who deserve acclaim.

Who do you think is performing exceptionally but remains below the radar? Who is going above and beyond what is required in their role to really make a difference? Their success could be happening in any area of construction but might be furthering sustainability, design, health and safety, innovation, opportunity for newcomers to the sector, community engagement or efficient delivery.

We’d like you to name your nominee and where they work and explain in fewer than 300 words why they deserve this title either by commenting on this story or by emailing building@ubm.com. Please include your own name and contact details.

Once you’ve done that, please tweet about your nomination using #ConstructionHeroes so we can start to give these people some recognition!

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Readers' comments (22)

  • We've had a number of nominations already for this, which is great. However, just a reminder that you can nominate via this comment box as an alternative to emailing.
    Thanks,

    Will Hurst,
    Assistant Editor

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  • We (Thomas Vale), would like to nominate our Future Enterprise Board as 'Construction Heroes' - they work hard in promoting the industry to young people and leading on corporate responsibility, charitable events, community engagement and leadership; importantly, they don't seek out praise as one of the members said recently "don't all young people want to do this kind of thing? Make a difference?".

    Established in 2011, the Thomas Vale Future Enterprise Board (FEB) is made up of 6 self-nominated young professionals who personally opt to help make a difference through a wide reaching corporate responsibility task in order to integrate with local communities, charities and social enterprises; a board which has been endorsed by peer groups including the UKCG, Constructing Excellence and University of Wolverhampton.

    The FEB have worked tirelessly over the last 2 years, helping to raise just over £45,000 for community based businesses which do not receive mainstream funding. From two large charity balls with over 600 industry decision makers attending combined or smaller events, their focus has always been to ensure that they make a difference to the communities they are working in.

    The have also supported other initiatives in helping to raise the profile of the industry; taking part and hosting the Construction Youth Trust's 'Budding Brunel's', training themselves as CITB Construction Ambassadors and hosting visits from Mark Prisk MP and HRH Duke of York, Prince Andrew. Likewise, they have worked hard to integrate with clients, professionals and supply chain partners to ensure that they are engaged with the business but more importantly, with people.

    In 2012, they secured £12,000 of monies to fund an initiative which they have worked in partnership with a local foundation, called 'TWIGS (Together We Invest in Gardening Services' which gives young disabled people the ability to gain qualifications in horticultural skills as part of the governments 'making places' scheme.

    They are very humble about the work that they are undertaking - so much so, that they think it is the 'norm'. But how many young people come together to make a difference just because they want to and how many do it all in their own time?

    Ok, so this isn't an individual nomination, but as a group, they are significantly helping to improve people's lives.and they don't even know it.

    Everyone at Thomas Vale is very proud of what they have achieved.

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  • I'd like to nominate Robert Klaschka, our Director at Studio Klaschka architecture and design for #ConstructionHeroes.

    Robert is known by others on the London BIM scene but I believe he deserves some formal recognition by the wider construction industry who probably don't even understand the contribution people like him are having behind the scenes. Adopting early BIM when he set up his own SME in 2001, Robert has since been developing his own understanding, knowledge and use of technology in the design and delivery of construction projects. As a small practice our project work to date has alone not been notable enough for any industry recognition - yet Robert has been learning from each and every one and implementing change within the office. More recently he's grasped the PAS 1192 standards and we're putting them to the test, recognising industry commonality and clear communication as critical to the success of technology in construction.

    I want to nominate Robert primarily for his extensive knowledge sharing and enthusiasm for BIM and because over recent years he has spent hours giving talks, chairing seminars, sitting on industry panels and advisory boards, assisting student projects and contributing to press articles, forums and social media. I would say that Robert is a key figure in the phenomenon that is #UKBIMcrew and is one of the primary reasons Studio Klaschka has 4,500 twitter followers despite being 5 people in size. In a world of Revit and AutoDesk I believe Robert has provided significant weight to the BIM platform debate as a Bentley AECOsim user and as Bentley Community UK & Ireland Chairman, he believes we all have the same goal and can work collaboratively.

    Our industry is currently full of marketers using the BIM buzz word. If someone wants a proper conversation about the realities of using BIM with someone who actually understands the background data in the software and the practicalities of rolling it out, then Robert is one of the people you could talk to. I am not saying he's the only one, I acknowledge there are other genuine players out there in the BIM community, but his contribution has been informative, reliable and delivered with passion.

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  • NOMINATION – Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce: founders of Clayworks Ltd (www.clay-works.com)
    Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce have thrown a grenade into the architecture and design sector with a sustainable interior plaster that also has superior performance and decorative qualities.
    Based in Cornwall and working with scientists at the University of Bath they launched Clayworks Natural Clay Plasters into the market in late 2011. The materials are poised to revolutionise the building industry with their eco and health credentials – and breath taking beauty.

    Clayworks replace the need for gypsum and cement based plastering products and being naturally pigmented, the requirement for any paint. Tests prove they have a similar performance rating with gypsum plaster but take 85% less energy to create.

    For 8 years, Adam and Katy took clay subsoil from the site for one off individual projects. They recognised that if they were to fulfil their mission of revolutionising the building industry to make it more sustainable and healthy, they had to make a fundamental shift to enable their knowledge to be ‘packaged’ and re-sold all over the world.

    The result is a superior range of standardised products, scientifically tested and able to be shipped globally. Although there are a few other clay wall finishes available worldwide, Clayworks is the only one that does not dust and that lays down smoothly: it is more like a conventional plaster in its application. Statements from the University of Bath endorse Clayworks as the highest performing clay plaster finish and hence it is now the preferred choice.

    Clayworks is also the only company in the world to produce its rustic finish that is in demand by global brands such as Nandos and Wahaca.

    Clayworks are the only natural clay plasters to be manufactured in the UK - to very intricate recipes - and shipped as dry mixes.
    The product has been used in restaurants, homes and retail interiors in the UK, Malaysia, Bahrain, and Dubai. Clayworks have an agent in Finland and are in advanced negotiations with major corporations to distribute in India and Nigeria.

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  • We (John Rowan and Partners) would like to put Paul O’Connor forward as our #constructionhero. Back in 1999 we received a letter from Paul asking for a job and while we had no vacancies we were impressed by his pro-activity and got him in to meet us.

    We feel Paul’s determination is what makes him a construction hero. After leaving school he started knocking on doors to find a job, sending out 50 letters and cold calls, attending 20 interviews and 12 assessments. Self confessed as not the most academic in school he has excelled in the workplace managing to achieve a master’s degree while working full time for us.

    Paul came to us at a time when we were just starting to work on the Government’s Decent Homes programme and we feel he made a huge impact in helping to deliver better housing across London. More recently he has spent a year out in Christchurch helping to rebuild the city following the devastating Earthquakes.

    14 years on, and now a Partner of the firm, Paul is still leading the way for us by mentoring the younger members of staff on the same path he has taken. It is a great example of where hard work and determination can get you.

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  • On behalf of Finning Caterpillar in the UK we would like to nominate our two Finning engineers who are out in the Antarctic keeping the Caterpillar D6N's running on the expedition. They reflect everything a 'Hero' should be battling through the harshest conditions on the planet keeping construction equipment operating and performing valuable Scientific research that will help us all.

    I would also like to nominate the construction engineering team at Finning who bespoke engineered the units. Find our more about the expedition at www.thecoldestjourney.org find out about the equipment and our Engineers Spencer Smirl and Richmond Dyke at www.ourcoldestjourney.com - true heros

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  • This submission is made on behalf of Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of the UK Timber Frame Association


    With much of the hard work in our industry currently going unnoticed, I would like to take the opportunity to nominate Gerard Lockey as one of our industry’s unsung heroes.

    Since becoming Chair of the UK Timber Frame Association’s Health & Safety and Training Board four years ago, Gerard has been influential in changing our members attitudes’ towards on-site working conditions and employee training.

    Initially, Gerard was responsible for the successful implementation of the UKTFA’s SiteSafe Scheme, which aims to reduce the risk of fire on timber frame construction sites. More recently, he has been instrumental in making education, upskilling and training a top priority.

    Gerard is currently working with fifteen UKTFA erector members to improve their business skills and knowledge; ensuring they are in the best position possible to capitalise on an upturn in the economy. The programme focuses on improving companies’ knowledge in a wide range of areas, from leadership, strategy and management of employees, to business planning, marketing and sales, with a view to making them ‘better businesses'

    Although the programme is still in its infancy, the results are already starting to show, with some members putting formal business plans in place for the first time. Gerard’s work with these companies is transforming the perception of the erector community within the UK construction industry, and in honour of this, he was awarded a Growth Recognition Award from the Construction Industry Training Board in April.

    What is most astounding is that all of this work has been carried out on a voluntary basis, with Gerard also a director of Regal Carpentry, a leading innovator in the timber industry. It is for these reasons – and many more – that I view Gerard as one of the construction sector’s unsung heroes, who continues to push the boundaries and drive progress forward.

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  • Harris Associates would like to put Lennart Jonsson, managing director at Senior Architectural Systems (SAS), forward as one of our #constructionheroes.

    Despite a recent prostate cancer diagnosis, which he has now thankfully been given the all clear from, Lennart has continued to be a driving force at the innovative British-based company he formed with his father-in-law, David Senior, in 1990.
    Lennart’s will and enthusiasm to push the boundaries of material choice, product performance and technology has continued to shine through, even during his illness.

    He is committed to diversifying the business and supporting his workforce, which has returned the favour and supported him during his cancer battle. SAS employees even took part in ‘Movember’ to raise funds for men’s health charities and show solidarity with their managing director.

    SAS’ market-leading Hybrid range was launched thanks to Lennart’s pioneering attitude and expertise. The Hybrid system is a high-insulation composite timber and aluminium window system, complimented by a matching door and curtain wall system.

    Lennart has a passion for developing new product areas, and Hybrid has been followed by further new systems and services, including a fibreglass range and a new, consumer-aimed range, called Homes by Senior, which provides beautifully engineered sliding folding doors, windows and curtain wall solutions.

    Lennart has shown his attitude is resilient and robust even when he is up against worrying health issues, and that is why he is a construction hero.

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  • anju  sarpal

    Recent Surveying BSc graduates, Conor O’ Connor and Ashley Davidson are self-made entrepreneurs. They’ve been busy building Construction Chat, an on line community for people wanting to work in the construction industry whilst studying at the University of Reading. The unique website facilitates exchange of information between students looking to progress in the construction industry and enables employers to get in touch with students. They are both now working on making it a full-time job, having had some great feedback from potential clients. Its first ever summer school for secondary school pupils was fully booked this year with schools keen to take advantage of the initative.

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  • I would like to nominate Mr. Alan Humphrey MRICS BSc (Hons). When Alan was 25 when he moved to Wales from London and risked everything to set up his own practice, at just 28 he is now a self employed Charted Building Surveyor who runs his own successful practice in Cardiff.

    Alan offers surveying services to mainly residential clients (Athena Property Consultants) but will often work with larger companies where needed. While I am Alan’s partner in an impartial opinion, Alan works extremely hard going above and beyond to ensure his clients receive the very best high level of service. It is so important to Alan that his clients get a positive experience from the construction industry. He spends a large amount of his time explaining the process and technical requirements of the construction process easing any worries and stresses they may have. Alan work’s long hours to ensure that his clients receive the very best service. I believe that due to the excellent service he provides much of the work he received is threw recommendation.

    In addition to all the hard work he puts in to Athena Property Consultants he is also undertaking a personal project. He is currently undertaking the refurbishment and conversion of a grade II listed former Welsh chapel to form a family home for our family. Not only has he undertaken the design and technical detailing works to achieve a sensitive restoration he has also undertaken the building works by himself which are still ongoing. These works have involved hand digging foundations, block wall building & first fix carpentry works.
    The restoration and conversion works have been followed by Endemol UK who produce the programme Restoration Home for the BBC, and our episode will be aired on Wednesday 31st July 2013 on BBC at 8pm.


    As Alan is self employed and does not have any colleagues he often does not receive recognition for the hard work and efforts he puts into his projects. Alan is too modest to accept he is exceptional at what he does and should be recognised for it. I truly hope that by doing this nomination he will appreciate how special what he has done and will continue to do is.

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